Kansas City Kansas
Paranormal activity is perhaps caused by deceased family members.
Sauer’s Castle is a 3 story, 18th century German Gothic inspired brick mansion built by German businessman/entrepreneur, Anton Philip Sauer for his second wife Marie and their 5 daughters. It has a tall watchtower and a walkway on the roof. The double front doors are huge, being 10 feet wide as a unit, 10 feet high and 6 inches thick.
The inside was/could be beautiful, with 12 foot ceilings, with an impressive entry floor, which alternates walnut and oak. There is a 4 story staircase which connects the floors, attic and tower together. The first floor rooms have marble fireplaces. Imported chandeliers provided light in the rooms.
We were expecting to see a glorious, Victorian brick mansion, being lived in by a private owner, but were sorely disappointed. YIKES! Instead, we saw a German gothic, fixer upper opportunity with a spooky countenance, which would be hard to live next to or across the street from on a daily basis.
We asked a neighbor, out for his daily stroll what the story was on this neglected mansion. Sadly, this once magnificent brick mansion is in funky shape, looking like the neighborhood haunted house, living up to all the ghost folklore, (some of it fables) attached to it, sitting forlornly, yet majestically back on its hilly estate. The city of Kansas City tried to take this property under the eminent domain stature, as it sat on a section of Kansas City slated for an urban renewal project. There were plans by the city to restore it to it’s former glory, and turn it into a bed and breakfast to earn money for its upkeep. The owner, who lives and makes his living in New York City, did take the city to court and won.
This current owner, a descendent of the family who built it, had bought it with the best of intentions back in the late ’80s, planning to restore and renovate the mansion, but found that it was harder to do than he thought. He faced a variety of problems, such as a dishonest employee. The caretaker was caught red handed stealing $30,000 worth of stuff from the mansion in 1996.
Being a mansion with a spooky appearance, with no one living inside of it, has attracted vandals, and people breaking in, to look around. This has been a real problem. Keeping a caretaker employed here has also been a challenge because the caretaker had his hands full keeping people off the property, until the 8 foot mother of all fences which surrounds the property was installed, which has been a big help in slowing down/stopping trespassers.
In 2000, this owner did basic repairs to the mansion’s structure, such as stabilizing the front porch so it wouldn’t fall off the rest of the house, replacing he mortar between the bricks, repairing the balconies and replacing windows broken by vandals. A sign in the front yard proclaims that the mansion is a historical landmark and will be renovated and restored.
It is a shame that the owner doesn’t live in Kansas City. If he did, it would be easier for him to spend his spare time fixing up the place. It would also provide him the opportunity to be on site frequently and to develop a better working relationship with the city authorities, who are miffed not only because he has made slow progress in renovating this mansion in the 11 years he has owned it, but because he won his case in court against them. The Kansas Landmarks Commission of Kansas City currently scrutinizes every improvement he does manage to make on the mansion, to be sure it is authentic to the style and time period of the mansion, which was declared a historical site in 1977.
German-born, Anton Sauer, his 5 children and his first wife, Francesca immigrated to New York City in 1858. They spent the Civil War years in New York, building up his businesses. In 1868, Francesca died, and Anton Sauer was ill with TB, which he had caught in Europe. As his disease was progressing and for business purposes as well, Anton moved his family to Kansas City, where he fell in love with his second wife, Mary who herself was a widow with two daughters. Mary’s family showed Anton the undeveloped hill property, which he bought to be the new site of their new home, which was big enough for all the children, plus the five children Anton and Mary would make together.
A lookout tower was built on the top of the mansion as well, because this property was close to the old Santa Fe Trail, which was the main highway for wagon trains and other not so nice folks traveling to the greener grass in the West.
Sauer’s Castle was finished and the family moved in during the year of 1872, a home with all the bells and whistles, which were 25 years ahead of what was commonly offered in your standard mansion. Anton Sauer succumbed to his disease in a second floor bedroom in 1879, leaving his wife and family very well off financially.
Around 1930, Sauer’s Castle got the reputation of being haunted, which only grew as the years rolled by. By the time the Sauer family sold the family mansion to entrepreneur Paul Berry, it was widely thought to be so, which drew not only curiosity seekers, but vandals and would-be looters, who Paul had to run off regularly. Paul lived there alone with his dog, trying to maintain the mansion, being kept busy repairing windows busted by rocks, repairing damage from break-ins and even surviving a physical assault. He lived here until he too died in 1986.
In 1987, Bud Wyman and his son and daughter-in-law, Cliff and Cindy Jones bought the mansion and owned it briefly for little over a year, hoping to fix up the mansion and pay for it by giving tours to visitors, dressed in 1800s attire. However, they sold it in 1988 to the current owner who bought the estate, with a long-held dream of restoring the mansion.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Possible Candidates: Throughout the years, 5 generations of the Sauer family lived and died in this family mansion. Besides Anton’s death, his wife Mary also died in the mansion in 1919, as well as other family members throughout the years from natural and unnatural causes. There was one suicide, one infant death, one child drowned in the swimming pool, and Anton’s son, Julius, was killed in a train accident, burned to death.
Occurrences which didn’t happen, but have circulated over the years as truth.
Despite the stories being circulated about the mansion, there were no murders, no bodies were buried here, and no treasure existed. There is no secret tunnel as the hill the mansion stands on is solid rock. The suicide which happened here was an old man, who was the second husband of one of the descendants, killing himself with a gun because he was upset about his declining health. No woman hung herself in the lookout tower as theorized by popular thought.
Another legend commonly reported tells this tragic tale; That at the end of the Civil War, a woman ( supposedly Mrs. Sauer) who lived in this mansion went to wait at the docks for her soldier husband (some say Anton Sauer) to come home on the ferry which he said he would be on, as his service was over. When he didn’t show up, she went home and killed herself, thinking he had been killed. He had merely missed the boat. When he arrived home, and found her dead, he in turn killed himself. The original teller of this tale had read Romeo and Juliet one too many times. Besides, the land belonged to an Indian in 1859, Tom Bigknife, during this time period, and the land was basically just an undeveloped property. The Sauers didn’t come to Kansas City until 1868.
Throughout the years, neighbors and the community have reported some eye witness ‘paranormal occurrences.’
Lights appear in the lookout tower, and can be seen floating around the property.
Laughter, crying, shouting, have been heard coming from the house, when no one living was there. Doors opening and closing by themselves have also been reported
An apparition of a woman is seen standing and walking on the widow’s walk, and standing in the lookout tower. This apparition could be any of the Sauer women who lived here.
Supposedly on Halloween, two apparitions (a man and a woman) are seen dancing in the lookout tower. Perhaps these spirits could be Eve and John S. Perkins, who was the one who shot himself here.
An apparition of a boy was seen at the mansion. Perhaps this is Julius appearing to the living as the boy he was, when he lived here; a place he probably loved.
Inside Personal Experiences
A wide variety of ghostly manifestations have been reported by folks who owned this property.
Perhaps one of the reasons that caretakers haven’t stayed for long, is that former residents from the last century still walk the property, and keep an eye on the living. There must have been reasons why the Jones family sold the mansion after living there only a short time:
Cindy Jones was not faint-hearted. She always carried a small gun with her in case she bumped into an unsavory trespasser. She was prepared to handle the problems with outside people which were inherited with the mansion. However, She found that handling the paranormal activities in this place harder than imagined.
Cindy Jones had heard strange noises and felt the range of emotions. From being a bit uneasy to being terrified at times. She knew that she wasn’t alone, and that they were sharing the mansion with other unseen residents.
Cindy Jones, while in the attic area of the lookout turret, heard noises there, which couldn’t be explained from natural causes. When she and Cliff checked it out, no one was there.
Cindy reported that the fireplace covers would rattle hard all by themselves. She also heard a strange melodic singing noise.
Her father-in-law also had paranormal experiences not easily explained:
For instance, while Cindy was preparing for a friends wedding for an outside affair, her father-in-law was busy taking down the old ceiling in a repair and renewal work project in the library. Suddenly, an apport in the form of a wedding picture of one of the Sauer great granddaughters fluttered to the floor. This relative had died in 1967 on the same day as this wedding.
Yes, it seems so, if one believes the personal, eye-witness accounts, and the work of psychics done 20 years ago. It is quite possible that restless spirits still claim the mansion as home. Plenty of drama happened here, which can create hauntings. Perhaps some of the legends were made up from paranormal occurrences observed, if not from active imaginations inspired by this spooky house or misunderstandings as to what was observed. I sincerely hope that Becky Ray’s investigative team can get permission to examine the mansion.
935 Shaunee Road
Kansas City, Kansas 66103
Do not trespass; respect the fence and the efforts to restore this grand mansion.
This castle is very tricky to find, but Tom and I were tenacious and we finally found it, after getting a hint from a county worker where it was located. It is located in a nice, neighborhood made up of a lot of curvy s streets, up on the hill between the 69 and 35 Hwy.
- A neighbor interview by Julie Carr
- Haunted Places: The National Directory
By William Dennis Hauk
- Sauer’s Castle page on GhostInvestigators.com
- Sauer’s Castle page on KansasHeritage.org
- Sauer’s Castle page on Shadowlands.net
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr