10 Legendary Homes That Were Never Finished

When construction crews break ground on a new home, they usually intend to finish it. But sometimes the process gets short-circuited, falling victim to social or political upheaval, financial strain, or death, and resulting in the abandonment of fabled, unfinished estates that never were to be. Click through to see a collection of regal residences throughout the world that, though never completed, have attained legendary status.

  1. Woodchester Mansion in Gloucester, England

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    Woodchester Mansion

    While most architects are renowned for their finished works, Benjamin Bucknall's magnum opus is a half-completed edifice. After the death of William Leigh, the wealthy merchant who commissioned Woodchester Mansion in 1857, construction on the 27-room mansion was abandoned in 1873. 

    Related: 15 100-Year-Old Houses That Haven't Aged a Day

    flickr.com via Kathryn Wright

  2. Woodchester Mansion

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    Woodchester Mansion

    From the outside, this Gothic Revival-style mansion impresses with its stately windows and gargoyle-festooned stone exterior. The interior, however, is suspended in mid-construction, with corridors that abruptly end, fireplaces that don't meet the floor, and scattered tools and ladders that haven't been touched by a builder for more than a century. Though never completed, the mansion is open for tours on weekends, from early spring to mid-fall.

    Related: 18 Small Towns with Strange Claims to Fame

    flickr.com via Angus WillsonMark Rosher, and Kathryn Wright

  3. Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California

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    Winchester Mystery House

    Rumor has it that Sarah Winchester, the eccentric widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, devised the convoluted design of this sprawling Queen Anne to confound evil spirits. 

    Related: The Secret Histories of 15 Grand Old American Mansions

    flickr.com via Doug Letterman

  4. Winchester Mystery House

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    Winchester Mystery House

    As if the mansion's upside-down columns, doors that open on to solid walls, and stairs that lead to the ceiling aren't peculiar enough, the Winchester Mystery House was also left with unfinished rooms and walls with loose nails when work on the 160-room abode was halted following Mrs. Winchester's death in 1922.

    Related: Weird or Wonderful? 22 Homes That Are Anything But Ordinary

    flickr.com via Donna Martin

  5. Longwood in Natchez, Mississippi

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    Longwood in Natchez

    When the Civil War began, construction on this grand octagonal plantation home in Natchez was halted. At the time, only nine basement-level rooms of the Oriental Villa-style structure had been completed, though a total of 32 rooms had been planned.

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    flickr.com via faungg's photos

  6. Longwood

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    Longwood in Natchez

    Longwood was commissioned in 1859 by Dr. Haller Nutt, a successful cotton planter. After he died in 1864, his family continued to live in the elegant basement rooms. In fact, Nutt family members lived there into the early years of the 20th century. Though unfinished, Longwood remains an enduring symbol of antebellum luxury and wealth. 

    Related: The 12 Most Infamous Goofs in Architecture History

    Wikimedia Commons via Elisa.rolle

  7. Versailles House in Windermere, Florida

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    Versailles House

    Construction of this 85,000-square-foot home inspired by and named after the Palace of Versailles in France has paused and restarted multiple times since ground was broken in 2004.

    Related: 11 Incredible Mansions That No One Wants to Buy

    Wikimedia Commons via 350z33

  8. Versailles House

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    Versailles House

    Owned by Westgate Resorts' founder David Siegel and his wife, Jackie, Versailles House is now slated to be finished by 2019. It is expected to stand as one of the largest single-family homes, and the fourth most expensive home, in the country.

    Related: 13 All-But-Forgotten Company Towns Around the Country

    Wikimedia Commons via Anna Frodesiak

  9. Bishop Castle in Rye, Colorado

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    Bishop Castle

    No road trip through central Colorado is complete without a stop along State Highway 165 at this monument to one man's determination and creativity. The towering stone edifice began as a cottage, but then began to take on the appearance of a medieval castle.

    Related: 16 Weirdly Awesome Summer Vacation Rentals on Airbnb

    flickr.com via Tony.Lazz

  10. Bishop Castle

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    Bishop Castle

    Jim Bishop has spent the better part of five decades erecting his idiosyncratic stone castle, and though an illness slowed him down in recent years, he still considers the roadside retreat to be unfinished.

    Related: 20 Weird and Wacky Destinations for a Family Road Trip

    flickr.com via Misty Faucheux

  11. Boldt Castle on Heart Island, Alexandria Bay, New York

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    Boldt Castle

    The general manager of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, George Boldt commissioned this six-story castle as a gift to his wife, Louise, in 1900. Upon her death in 1904, the grief-stricken widower halted construction.

    Related: 20 American Treasures to See Now—Before They Disappear

    Wikimedia Commons via Clément Bardot

  12. Boldt Castle

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    Boldt Castle

    After Louise's death, Boldt never returned to the island, leaving behind a partially completed six-story castle as a monument to his love. Over the years, the structure sank into disrepair, damaged by vandals, weather, and the passage of time. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property in 1977 and has been restoring it to the condition it was in when construction was halted. They also offer tours of the castle from May through October.

    Related: Step Inside 12 Hotels That Take You Back in Time

    flickr.com via Inhabitat

  13. Lyveden New Bield in Northamptonshire, England

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    Lyveden New Bield

    Constructed as the summer home of Catholic landowner Sir Thomas Tresham, Lyveden New Bield incorporates Catholic symbols and religious-themed friezes into its design.

    Related: You’ll Never Believe What These 6 Amazing Homes Used to Be

    Wikimedia Commons via Wehha

  14. Lyveden New Bield

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    Lyveden New Bield

    Following Tresham's death in 1605, the builders' devotion to the project dimmed. The never-completed Elizabethan residence was passed on to Tresham's son. In 2013, it was acquired by the National Trust.

    Related: 16 Iconic American Homes Torn Down Before Their Time

    flickr.com via Tusela

  15. Kellie's Castle in Batu Gajah, Malaysia

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    Kellie's Castle

    Civil engineer and planter William Kellie Smith commissioned craftsmen all the way from Madras, India, to help realize his grand vision of a home that incorporated Scottish, Moorish, and Indo-Islamic architectural elements.

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    Wikimedia Commons via Artboyz

  16. Kellie's Castle

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    Kellie's Castle

    When Smith died of pneumonia during a trip to Portugal in 1926, his wife returned to Scotland. Kellie's Castle, or Kellie's Folly, as it is also known, was never completed and is now a popular local tourist attraction.

    Related: 18 Castles You Can Buy (For Less Than You Think)

    Wikimedia Commons via Fairuskhafiz

  17. Villa Arnaldi in Vicenza, Italy

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    Villa Arnaldi

    Vincenzo Arnaldi may be the only house flipper in history to have turned a profit before the flip was even finished. In 1547 the wealthy Italian enlisted famed architect Andrea Palladio to restructure his property, an agricultural complex, to increase its value during a legal dispute with the property's previous owner. 

    Related: 14 Mansions You Can Rent Right Now—For Less Than You Think!

    Wikimedia Commons via Hans A. Rosbach

  18. Villa Arnaldi

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    Villa Arnaldi

    When Arnaldi reached a settlement with the previous owner, he stopped work on the renovation and chose instead to rent out the partially rebuilt structure.

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    Wikimedia Commons via Hans A. Rosbach

  19. Ajuda National Palace in Lisbon, Portugal

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    Ajuda National Palace

    A number of economic and political forces, ranging from financial constraints to the invasion of Napoleon's troops in 1807, conspired against the completion of this palace in Lisbon that was intended to house Portugal's royal family.

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    flickr.com via Kotomi_

  20. Ajuda National Palace

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    Ajuda National Palace

    Although the Ajuda Palace served as the official residence of the monarchy from the late 1800s until the exile of the royal family in 1910, the western wing of the luxurious neoclassical structure was never completed. 

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    flickr.com via Kotomi_

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