David Mast, the son of Jeane Mast, who owns Mudhouse Mansion along Mud House Road in Pleasant Township, sees the home as “just a farmhouse,” and one he was never particularly fond of. Mast told the uneventful stories of his experience in the home while it was being torn down Monday by Kull Excavating.
“That house is not my cup of tea,” Mast said, adding that it would cost millions to make the house safe and livable.
Mast said he’s never understood people’s draw to the home or where the ghost stories came from.
“We have a hard time getting people out of it,” Mast said, with neighbors stopping during the demolition to tell stories of his mother, Jeane Mast, waiting for trespassers in a lawn chair and armed with a gun outside the home.
The stories of the fiercely guarded abandoned mansion grew from there. Neighbors estimate weekly, if not daily trespassers to the home, depending on the time of year.
When Mast was in high school, he can recall sleeping at the house to scare off any trespassers, showing the legends of the house span generations.
The house has been featured in a variety of books and websites based on its reputation for being haunted.
To poke fun at the ghost stories, one of the construction crew members dressed in a white sheet and posed in each of the window as the excavator pulled up to the house to begin the demolition.
The mansion, complete with seven bedrooms, was demolished in about two hours. One wall was already buckling before the excavation crew arrived Monday afternoon.
Mast said his family purchased the home in 1919, which means it’s been in his family for nearly 100 years.
Everyone who stopped had a story to share. Either they knew someone who had sneaked a peek at the house or were the neighbors helping Jeane Mast patrol the area by calling the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office to keep people out.
Cindy Herd was one of those neighbors.
“I’ve never gotten this close to it,” Herd said as she stood in front of the half-torn-down mansion.
Herd said she always respected Jeane Mast, but after 23 years of reporting trespassers to police, she thought she had the right to come on the property with a select few people and watch the old farm house come down.
“It’s really bittersweet,” Herd said, with the dozen of onlookers from Mud House road trying to catch a glimpse of the demolition. Some people cut through Mast’s field to get a better look.
“I will be very glad that children won’t be in danger,” she said.
The three-story home, which is at least 140 years old, was filled with spongy, deteriorating flooring and mold. The house appeared in the 1875 Fairfield County atlas on a 270-acre parcel owned by William Pugh. It's still a 270-acre parcel today, David Mast said.
Over the years, the Mast family has heard many offers to buy the property, but no money to back up the offers. Mast said his father wouldn’t have sold it anyway.
“We’ll clean it up and start and plant corn,” Mast said. “I guess we’ll see.”
The house, Mast said, was a liability. It was full of mold and about to fall down, even without the help of an excavation team.
JJay Bowes, of Davis Services, was helping with mansion demolition and salvaging pieces they hope to sell on AmethystandIvy.com.
Bowes said a popular suggestion on social media is for the Mast family to turn the home into a bed and breakfast, but he doesn’t see that is as a viable option — neither did the owner.
“Just to make it safe, there’s really no way to touch it with $1 million,” Bowes said. “It would take $3 million to make a fully-functioning, safe bed and breakfast up to modern building (codes.)”
He said it would take less to tear down and rebuild than to fix the existing structure, which was built without plumbing. However, there were some rooms with electric.
The Mast family had considered tearing the old house down for years, but tearing it down also cost money. The neighbors were pleased to see it torn down by October, which is always its busiest season. Mast was just glad he won't have to patrol the area any more in fear of someone vandalizing the family house even further than it already had been. Or worse — someone getting hurt in the process.
While the mansion is gone from the rolling hills of Fairfield County's landscape, it's not gone from the memories of local residents who have seen it standing for decades. For those who never saw the remnants of Mudhouse Mansion, there will always be many stories to share.