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Sauer's Castle –
935 Shaunee Road
Kansas City, Kansas
Do not trespass; respect the fence and the efforts to restore this grand mansion.
This castle is very tricky to find, but Tom and I were tenacious and we finally found
it, after getting a hint from a county worker where it was located. It is located
in a nice, neighborhood made up of a lot of curvy s streets, up on the hill between
the 69 and 35 Hwy.
Sauer's Castle is a 3 story, 18th century German Gothic inspired brick mansion built by
German businessman/entrepreneur, Anton Philip Sauer for his second wife Marie and
their 5 daughters. It has a tall watchtower and a walkway on the roof. The double
front doors are huge, being 10 feet wide as a unit, 10 feet high and 6 inches
The inside was /could be beautiful, with 12 foot ceilings, with an
impressive entry floor, which alternates walnut and oak. There is a 4 story staircase
which connects the floors, attic and tower together. The first floor rooms have
marble fireplaces. Imported chandeliers provided light in the rooms.
were expecting to see a glorious, Victorian brick mansion, being lived in by a
private owner, but were sorely disappointed. YIKES! Instead, we saw a German gothic,
fixer upper opportunity with a spooky countenance, which would be hard to live
next to or across the street from on a daily basis.
We asked a neighbor,
out for his daily stroll what the story was on this neglected mansion. Sadly,
this once magnificent brick mansion is in funky shape, looking like the neighborhood
haunted house, living up to all the ghost folklore, (some of it fables) attached
to it, sitting forlornly, yet majestically back on its hilly estate. The city
of Kansas City tried to take this property under the eminent domain stature, as
it sat on a section of Kansas City slated for an urban renewal project. There
were plans by the city to restore it to it's former glory, and turn it into a
bed and breakfast to earn money for its upkeep. The owner, who lives and makes
his living in New York City, did take the city to court and won.
owner, a descendent of the family who built it, had bought it with the best of
intentions back in the late '80s, planning to restore and renovate the mansion,
but found that it was harder to do than he thought. He faced a variety of problems,
such as a dishonest employee. The caretaker was caught red handed stealing $30,000.
worth of stuff from the mansion in 1996.
Being a mansion with a spooky appearance,
with no one living inside of it, has attracted vandals, and people breaking in,
to look around. This has been a real problem. Keeping a caretaker employed here
has also been a challenge because the caretaker had his hands full keeping people
off the property, until the 8 foot mother of all fences which surrounds the property
was installed, which has been a big help in slowing down/stopping trespassers.
In 2000, this owner did basic repairs to the mansion's structure, such as stabilizing
the front porch so it wouldn't fall off the rest of the house, replacing he mortar
between the bricks, repairing the balconies and replacing windows broken by vandals.
A sign in the front yard proclaims that the mansion is a historical landmark and
will be renovated and restored.
It is a shame that the owner doesn't live
in Kansas City. If he did, it would be easier for him to spend his spare time
fixing up the place. It would also provide him the opportunity to be on site frequently
and to develop a better working relationship with the city authorities, who are
miffed not only because he has made slow progress in renovating this mansion in
the 11 years he has owned it, but because he won his case in court against them.
The Kansas Landmarks Commission of Kansas City currently scrutinizes every improvement
he does manage to make on the mansion, to be sure it is authentic to the style
and time period of the mansion, which was declared a historical site in 1977.
Anton Sauer, his 5 children and his first wife, Francesca immigrated to New York
City in 1858. They spent the Civil War years in New York, building up his businesses.
In 1868, Francesca died, and Anton Sauer was ill with TB, which he had caught
in Europe. As his disease was progressing and for business purposes as well, Anton
moved his family to Kansas City, where he fell in love with his second wife, Mary
who herself was a widow with two daughters. Mary's family showed Anton the undeveloped
hill property, which he bought to be the new site of their new home, which was
big enough for all the children, plus the five children Anton and Mary would make
A lookout tower was built on the top of the mansion as well,
because this property was close to the old Santa Fe Trail, which was the main
highway for wagon trains and other not so nice folks traveling to the greener
grass in the West.
Sauer's Castle was finished and the family moved in
during the year of 1872, a home with all the bells and whistles, which were 25
years ahead of what was commonly offered in your standard mansion. Anton Sauer
succumbed to his disease in a second floor bedroom in 1879, leaving his wife and
family very well off financially.
Around 1930, Sauer's Castle got the reputation
of being haunted, which only grew as the years rolled by. By the time the Sauer
family sold the family mansion to entrepreneur Paul Berry, it was widely thought
to be so, which drew not only curiosity seekers, but vandals and would-be looters,
who Paul had to run off regularly. Paul lived there alone with his dog, trying
to maintain the mansion, being kept busy repairing windows busted by rocks, repairing
damage from break-ins and even surviving a physical assault. He lived here until
he too died in 1986.
In 1987, Bud Wyman and his son and daughter-in-law,
Cliff and Cindy Jones bought the mansion and owned it briefly for little over
a year, hoping to fix up the mansion and pay for it by giving tours to visitors,
dressed in 1800s attire. However, they sold it in 1988 to the current owner who
bought the estate, with a long-held dream of restoring the mansion.
HIstory OF MANIFESTATIONS:
Possible Candidates: Throughout the years, 5 generations
of the Sauer family lived and died in this family mansion. Besides Anton's death,
his wife Mary also died in the mansion in 1919, as well as other family members
throughout the years from natural and unnatural causes. There was one suicide,
one infant death, one child drowned in the swimming pool, and Anton's son, Julius,
was killed in a train accident, burned to death.
Occurrences which didn't
happen, but have circulated over the years as truth.
Despite the stories
being circulated about the mansion, there were no murders, no bodies were buried
here, and no treasure existed. There is no secret tunnel as the hill the mansion
stands on is solid rock. The suicide which happened here was an old man, who was
the second husband of one of the descendants, killing himself with a gun because
he was upset about his declining health. No woman hung herself in the lookout
tower as theorized by popular thought.
Another legend commonly reported
tells this tragic tale; That at the end of the Civil War, a woman( supposedly
Mrs. Sauer) who lived in this mansion went to wait at the docks for her soldier
husband ( some say Anton Sauer) to come home on the ferry which he said he would
be on, as his service was over. When he didn't show up, she went home and killed
herself, thinking he had been killed. He had merely missed the boat. When he arrived
home, and found her dead, he in turn killed himself. The original teller of this
tale had read Romeo and Juliet one too many times. Besides, the land belonged
to an Indian in 1859, Tom Bigknife, during this time period, and the land was
basically just an undeveloped property. The Sauers didn't come to Kansas City
Throughout the years, neighbors and the community have reported some eye witness 'paranormal occurrences.'
Lights appear in the lookout tower, and can be
seen floating around the property.
Laughter, crying, shouting, have been
heard coming from the house, when no one living was there. Doors opening and closing
by themselves have also been reported
An apparition of a woman is seen standing
and walking on the widow's walk, and standing in the lookout tower. This apparition
could be any of the Sauer women who lived here.
Supposedly on Halloween,
two apparitions ( a man and a woman) are seen dancing in the lookout tower. Perhaps
these spirits could be Eve and John S. Perkins, who was the one who shot himself
An apparition of a boy was seen at the mansion. Perhaps this is Julius
appearing to the living as the boy he was, when he lived here; a place he probably
A wide variety of ghostly manifestations have been reported
by folks who owned this property.
Perhaps one of the reasons
that caretakers haven't stayed for long, is that former residents from the last
century still walk the property, and keep an eye on the living.
of been reasons why the Jones family sold the mansion after living there only
a short time.
Cindy Jones was not faint-hearted. She always
carried a small gun with her in case she bumped into an unsavory trespasser.
She was prepared to handle the problems with outside people which were inherited
with the mansion. However, She found that handling the paranormal activities in
this place harder than imagined.
Cindy Jones had heard strange
noises and felt the range of emotions. from being a bit uneasy to being terrified
at times. She knew that she wasn't alone, and that they were sharing the mansion
with other unseen residents.
Cindy Jones, while in the attic area of the
lookout turret, heard noises in the attic, which couldn't be explained from natural
causes in the attic. When she and Cliff checked it out, no one was there.
reported that the fireplace covers would rattle hard all by themselves. She also
heard a strange melodic singing noise.
Her father-in-law also
had paranormal experiences not easily explained.
while Cindy was preparing for a friends wedding for an outside affair, her father-in-law
was busy taking down the old ceiling in a repair and renewal work project in the
library. Suddenly, an apport in the form of a wedding picture of one of the Sauer
great granddaughters fluttered to the floor. This relative had died in 1967 on
the same day as this wedding.
While the Jones family owned the mansion, many psychics came into the mansion to investigate, without modern equipment now used in ghost detecting. They felt that the attic was the center of the hauntings. Well-known, respected Kansas City psychic Maurice Schwalm found some evidence from photos which he says show the evidence of spirits.
Becky Ray of Paranormal Activity Investigators hasn't made up her mind yet, if these occurrences are figments of imagination inspired by the spooky atmosphere; the result of natural phenomenon or if the reported apparitions/paranormal occurrences are real. She is continuing her ongoing investigation, trying to get permission to go inside the mansion to either prove the hauntings with data gathered or give the mansion a ghost free rating, which would hopefully cut down on unauthorized visits from people fascinated with the paranormal, as well as vandals who throw rocks, etc., and give the owner and the caretaker some peace.
Check out her report at ghost-investigators.com
Yes, it seems so, if one believes the personal, eye-witness accounts, and the work of psychics done 20 years ago. It is quite possible that restless spirits still claim the mansion as home. Plenty of drama happened here, which can create hauntings. Perhaps some of the legends were made up from paranormal occurrences observed, if not from active imaginations inspired by this spooky house or misunderstandings as to what was observed. I sincerely hope that Becky Ray's investigative team can get permission to examine the mansion.
A neighbor interview by Julie Carr
Haunted Places: The National Directory
By William Dennis Hauk
Sauer's Castle page on GhostInvestigators.com * Sauer's Castle page on KansasHeritage.org * Sauer's Castle page on Shadowlands.net