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Bartow's wild weird 'Wonder House' is open for tours again

Beware the snake and giraffe in the basement
The Wonder House in Bartow.png
Posted at 2:49 AM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 07:32:49-05

One of Florida's first-ever tourist attractions is weird, wild — and once again open for business.

"The Wonder House" in Bartow is truly an architectural marvel, around 10,000 square feet of concrete and tile and sheer ingenuity.

All thanks to, and constructed by, an inventor named Conrad Schuck, a man who thought he was dying (he wasn't).

So in 1926, he dreamed, and built, big, really big, all without blueprints.

"[Conrad] was brilliant, truly brilliant," said Krislin Kreis, who owns the Wonder House with boyfriend Drew Davis. "But he was also very eccentric, very weird."

Sean Daly at The Wonder House

Schuck's inventive, playful nature is on display everywhere in the four-story estate. There's a rainwater cooling system flowing through the house, a third-floor koi pond, a moat, concrete bridges, secret tunnels and two basements.

Schuck and his family never actually lived in the house. But it nevertheless became a popular attraction for lookie-loos from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Kreis and Davis' love for taxidermy and skeletons, ancient weaponry and related oddities are natural fits with Schuck's gothic vision.

"I wanted to be an archaeologist growing up, so I guess I kind of get to live out my childhood dreams," said Kreis, who is constantly discovering new things about the Wonder House.

For instance, Schuck liked to preserve snakes, a lot of snakes, in jars. And fair warning: There's an homage to his passion lurking in the basement.

There's also half of a giraffe. Yes, a real giraffe.

To book a tour of the Wonder House, click here.