Famed Wichita St. Mystery House, Still Under Renovations, Will Ditch the Mystery, Become Hotel or Meeting Venue, Says Owner

2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston

The Chron’s Craig Hlavaty reports from the scene of still-ongoing renovations to the bedecked and multi-turreted home at 2309 Wichita St., better known as the castle-like former duplex, orphanage, and daycare facility in Riverside Terrace that former owner and VA nurse Charles Fondow spent 31-odd years renovating and expanding as his own quirky residence, inspired by his sightseeing travels in Russia and Green Bay, Wisconsin. Fondow died in 2011, his life’s work incomplete. New owner Nick Ugarov, who picked up the property from a bank sale in 2014, has continued Fondow’s legacy with a multi-year renovation project of his own:


2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston

“Since 2015 Ugarov has added five new air conditioning units, an elevator, a commercial-grade water heater, paved the front yard for extra parking, and added 18 cameras inside and out for extra security,” Hlavaty notes. “Ugarov has tried to stay as close as possible to Fondow’s strange vision of what the home should look like.” Ugarov tells him renovation costs are approaching $1 million, and that the property is destined to become “a boutique hotel or commercial meeting space.”

2309 Wichita St., Riverside Terrace, Houston

But Ugarov and the team at his contracting company, Centerpoint Remodeling, aren’t just adding on to the structure. He says he wants to take away from it as well. “We want to move away from the mysteriousness and the spookiness,” he tells Hlavaty. “It’s a Houston landmark.”

Photos: Craig Hlavaty/Houston Chronicle

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