Lucky Buyer of Castle-Like Riverside Terrace Wichita St. Mystery House ‘Mulling Over’ What To Do with It

2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston

More than a month after purchasing the duplex-turned-31-year DIY renovation-and-expansion-project that became the life’s work of its owner, former VA nurse Charles Fondow, buyer Nick Ugarov tells the Chronicle‘s Craig Hlavaty that he’s “still mulling over plans” for the 5-bedroom, 4-and-a-half-bath, 2-turret still-not-quite-finished home at 2309 Wichita St. near Dowling. Ugarov picked up the foreclosed deck-bedecked structure for $251,000, from a bank sale that closed on April 11th, according to MLS records. That’s $101K over the ridiculously low asking price the sales agent had placed on the property, a well-known and much-gawked-at oddity in Riverside Terrace that’s been described as a poor man’s version of the Winchester Mystery House.


2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston



Fondow’s ever-expanding dreams for the once-termite-ridden brick home — spurred by travels and studies of model structures in Russia and Green Bay, Wisconsin — were abruptly interrupted in early 2011, when he fell ill while on a cruise to Barbados. He passed away that March. Later that year, his abandoned housebuilding obsession went on the market for $325,000, but did not find a buyer. Later, the property went into foreclosure. It reappeared on the market in February of this year, with a vastly reduced asking price.

But the photos that accompanied the new listing made it clear that the house had weathered 3 years of just sitting there:





















Some of these rooms had appeared far more pristine in the earlier listing:

2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston (7) 2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston (4) 2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston (5) 2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston (3) 2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston (6) 2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston (2) 2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston (8)

Ugarov wasn’t the only prospective buyer for Fondow’s former home; MLS records indicate the property had been listed as “option pending” after an offer had been accepted at least once earlier. Ugarov’s real estate agent, Alfonso Parodi, tells Hlavaty that Ugarov owns “a handful of other unique homes in the area.”

Photos: HAR

Will It Stay or Go Now?

7 Comment

  • As much as I would like to see this place remodeled and remain, it looks like it is going to cost a LOT of money to make this place habitable. The lot next door is vacant and this area is just a block east from 288 with convenient access to the Med Center and Museum District. This area is going to start seeing some new development soon. I foresee townhouses in the near future…

  • A really good Haunted House this Halloween before any remodel or tear down might actually help it pay for itself.

  • Yay! Plus one point for the preservationist crowd today.

  • Curse of the high bidder

  • @Sadz – I second the haunted house idea!

  • $100k+ over asking? I’m not saying he over paid, but the agent really should have put the property on the market for a price more in line with what they were expecting. My guess is she got tons of offers over asking – which means she did a shitty job of putting it out there at what is close to the market price for that home.
    She might as well of put it up for $1 and just let people offer whatever they wanted.
    I hate when agents do that… And before someone says ‘bidding war’, my guess is she could have put it out for $275k or even $300k and gotten it vs. playing her little game and screwing over the current owner.

  • What happened to it? I went to the estate sale a few years back and it was in MUCH better shape.