BARTOW, Fla. – Located in Bartow, Polk County, the Wonder House belonged to a poet and philosopher from the 1920s.
Conrad Schuck had moved with his wife and nine kids from Pittsburgh to build the house of his dreams.
A historic home unique for its architecture, Drew Davis fell in love with it as soon as his wife introduced him to it.
“Krislin just asked me one day, ‘Have you ever seen the Wonder House?’" Davis said. "And I was, (like), ‘No, what is the wonder house?'”
In 2015, Davis bought the 1925 house at an auction after it had been abandoned for several years. Since them, he and his wife, Krislin Kreis, have embarked on a 10-year project to bring it back to its glory days.
“I love the research aspect of it. I love going to libraries and looking through microfilm and going online and just digging for information,” Kreis said.
The Wonder House is designed in the shape of a cross. Each floor had a fireplace to create a cross ventilation system.
“If it was actually hot out, you would actually light the fireplace -- very counter intuitive. So what would happen when the fireplace was lit, the warm air would rise and it would actually suck air from outside so the effect was you had a constant wind in every single room,” Davis explained.
Among his famous inventions was a system of mirrors inside a fireplace.
“They were all in a track system, so you could actually turn a wheel and project all the colors all over the place,” Davis said. “The guy who built it was Conrad Schuck. He was just an absolute outside-the-box thinker -- just genius, eccentric, different guy. Everything he did about the house was unique."
The four-story house was built out of concrete over stone and reinforced with steel rails. The owners say there were also three escape tunnels. One was discovered after Hurricane Irma knocked down a tree and revealed an opening to one of the tunnels.
“It’s heyday was definitely the ’30s and ’40s, when it was at its peak. I read one story that it was doing 2,000 guests a week,” Davis said. “Conrad actually first opened the house up for tours probably in the late ’20s, early ’30s because he actually ran out of money when he was building the house.”
In June, Kreis and Davis once again opened the house up for tours.
“We’re trying to give it back to the community so they can come and see and relive memories, create new memories and see why it’s important to, you know, preserve a historical building,” Kreis said.
Click here to learn more about the history of the Wonder House and see tour schedules.