Imagine trekking through the backwoods of Missouri and stumbling upon a deserted mansion. Would you run for your life for fear of a deranged serial killer lurking inside? Would you wonder whether this eerie building is a shelter for zombies waiting for sundown? Would you peek through the windows and hope there is nothing gruesome lurking within?
Oddly enough, if you were able to explore this property you would be more likely to ask for an autograph than go running for the hills. Though this home looks as though it has been abandoned, it is actually a pet project of the rapper Nelly.
Shocked? Perplexed? Mind boggled? All of the above? We get it. Why in the world would a successful entertainer and musician choose to purchase a mansion located smack dab in the middle of an eerie forest in Missouri?
The isolation alone is worrisome, with no neighbors to call for help should something go awry, wild animals stalking you in the darkness of night, an escapee from the psych ward looking for his next victim, you get the gist. Aside from the terrors one's mind can conjure, there are logistical issues as well, I mean, what if you run out of toilet paper?
Trees for Days
As you can see from the photos, the enormous mansion is situated on the top of a hill and is completely surrounded by a huge forest full of trees as far as the eye can see. While it is stunningly beautiful, it is also just about as remote as you can get.
Aside from the isolation, the house hasn’t been lived in! Parts of it are still in disarray from the renovation and because there is no one there at night, the property would be pitch black. While nighttime hiking isn’t really a thing, not sure this would be a welcoming sight for someone who got lost in the woods.
Now we have only told you that the house is in Missouri so let’s get a bit more specific. The remote mansion and its surrounding property are situated in the town of Wildwood, 30 minutes or so west of St. Louis.
Ever heard of it? Well, most people haven’t. Nelly actually moved to St. Louis with his mother as a teenager. When he was in high school, he and some friends formed the group the St. Lunatics and performed in St. Louis as well as the surrounding areas. This may be part of the reason he was attracted to this home.
Sign on the Dotted Line
Nelly signed on the dotted line in 2002 and with keys in hand he came up with an elaborate plan for renovations. Mind you, the house was a relatively new build at the time, having been constructed in 1998.
For 1998 (and today too, I guess), this was considered a monstrous build, which was built using only the best materials so the purchase price was pretty steep. The mansion was listed for a whopping $2.5 million though Nelly hasn’t disclosed the price he actually paid. Now, keep in mind that this was listed in the Missouri real estate market that tends to run a bit more affordable than California or New York.
Not Your Average Home
Obviously, the real estate median price range for mansions varies from state to state no matter how fancy the property is. The $2.5 million price tag is highly unusual for Missouri as, per Zillow, the average home sells for roughly $183,000.
But...this is no average home, right? The square footage, surrounding property, amenities, and materials used all make it somewhat incomparable to the average Missouri home. So with the property being such a one-of-a-kind, why has it essentially been abandoned?
A Business Decision
Well, it turns out that Nelly wasn’t feeling nostalgic when he purchased the property. Instead, he acquired it with the intention of remodeling and then flipping the home with the help of a friend who is a licensed contractor.
As construction began, the bills started piling up while the renovation timeline kept expanding, as is usually the case when doing a remodel. Soon the construction came to a halt altogether and the home was left standing unfinished. As of now, it has been empty for nearly 20 years.
A Career in California
Now we all have to remember that Nelly actually works for a living and his everyday activities are nowhere near Missouri. His career hit a whole new level the year he purchased the mansion so it is reasonable to assume that he was quite busy making music.
The rapper released his second album entitled Nellyville in 2002 and within the first week, it hit number one on Billboard’s Top 200 Music Albums. That album was so hot that it has gone six times platinum so you know Nelly had better things to do in 2002 than concentrate on his mansion in Missouri.
A Stellar Year
While the album Nellyville was uber-successful, its lead single Hot in Herre was insanely popular, so much so that it was playing in every club across the world and won the rapper a Grammy for Best Male Solo Rap Performance.
To capitalize on his great success, he continued recording and releasing albums over the next two years. As if all of this did not keep him busy enough, Nelly also contributed to the soundtracks for Bad Boys II and Disney’s The Haunted Mansion. And, you know in his spare time, he was the guest performer at the 2004 Superbowl half-time show.
The Silver Screen
Apparently, Nelly wasn’t busy enough because by 2004 he decided to branch out creatively into the field of acting. Now his actual film debut was in 2001 when he portrayed a famous rapper (not a far stretch) named Prolifik in the independent film Snipes.
In 2005, the rapper got the opportunity to appear in the comedy remake of The Longest Yard alongside comedy legends Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. He must have enjoyed the acting experience because he also appeared in episodes of CSI: NY in 2008 and 2009.
A Plethora of Projects
The rapper took a break from acting for a few years but he was far from bored. Between 2008 and 2013 he dropped three additional albums; Brass Knuckles, 5.0, and M.O. He kept busy collaborating with other artists such as Pitbull, Fergie, and Gloria Estefan to name just a few.
By 2014, he had time to dip his toe into the acting pool again and signed up for a supporting role in the Indie drama Reach Me. Working alongside the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Kyra Sedgwick, and Kelsey Grammar, Nelly played the role of E-ruption. Again, you can see why the mansion was the furthest project from his mind.
Reality TV Came Calling
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Nelly also decided to try his hand at the ever-popular reality television genre. He joined the cast of the mockumentary series Real Husbands of Hollywood in 2013 and stayed on for all five seasons.
Reality TV must have agreed with him because, in 2014, he released Nellyville, a series that focuses on his career and raising his four kids. The show which is named after his second album ran for two seasons. It’s exhausting just trying to keep up with all of Nelly’s projects!
A Competitor at Heart
Now you may ask why not finish the mansion with all of the downtime from the pandemic? Even with the restrictions and precautions, Nelly has remained busy (safely of course). In 2020, Nelly partnered up with dancing professional Daniella Karagach to compete in the 29th season of Dancing With the Stars.
Though he was hesitant at first, this loveable underdog proved that he had the moves by making it all the way to the finale where he finished in third place behind Nev Schulman and Kaitlyn Bristow. Pretty impressive!
Portraying a Legend
Looks as though Nelly won’t have time to give his mansion some love in 2021 either as he has signed on to portray the legendary icon Chuck Berry in the upcoming movie Clear Lake. The biopic about the life of Buddy Holly will also include actors Colin Hanks and Diane Guerrero.
Music hasn’t taken the backburner either. In March of this year, Nelly released the new single Fully Loaded which leads fans to wonder if there may be another album coming their way.
Nelly’s Moral Dilemmas
In the last few years, Nelly has been keeping quiet. He’s slow descent was the cause of some scandals and controversies. Just to name a few of the, Nelly was issued a $2,412,283 federal tax lien, accused in rape in 2017 by fans and had some failed musical releases.
People magazine reported that Nelly was also charged with possession of drugs that the police found in his motor. Nelly had to participate in a diversion program and has 11 months of probation. It could be that these problems and scandals also interrupted the work on the mansion, as Nelly’s mind must have been on other things.
Cutting All Ties
So with everything Nelly has going on it makes sense that the mansion hasn’t been his priority. Nearly 20 years after the purchase of the house in the woods, the rapper has made a decision; it is time to put the dilapidated mansion up for sale.
With his work and family rooted in Calabasas, CA, managing a project as huge as the mansion in a remote part of Missouri no longer makes sense. Now all he has to do is find a buyer. Fingers crossed for you, Nelly.
A Grand Estate
Now that the house is up for sale, you may want to know a little bit about it. Saying this mansion is massive is actually an understatement. The six-bedroom, seven-bathroom property sits on a 12-acre lot and measures 10,799 square feet. The 12-acres surrounding the mansion obviously ensures privacy but also offers a panoramic view of the Missouri forest.
Aside from its massive size and acreage, the mansion also features a basketball court, a three-car garage, a pool, and plenty of open spaces for hiking, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing. Sold yet?
A Mediterranean Mansion
Ready to take a look at Nelly’s abandoned mansion? The photos give you a good idea of just how grey it can get on a winter's day in the midwest so imagine if you will, just how beautiful it would look in the spring.
As you can see the house was built with a Mediterranean aesthetic. The arched windows, the tiled roof, and the quaint veranda are reminiscent of the villas located on the coast of Spain. Now the snow and the grey skies don’t support the illusion but you can see what the builder was trying to achieve.
A Welcoming Exterior
Located on the left side of the house is a spacious garage large enough to accommodate three vehicles and have a workshop. The circular driveway and wide front steps lead up to a small porch perfect for some potted plants and a porch swing. Can you picture it?
While the small veranda on the right side of the house is a lovely feature, the huge selling point regarding the curb appeal is the windows. So many windows ensure the interior of the house will have plenty of natural light, however, you also have to think about your heating bill. So, do you think they are double-paned?
A Window Washer’s Dream
The windows alone must have cost the builder a fortune. The two giant pillars flanking each side of the entry contain floor-to-ceiling windows, there is a window above the porch, as well as wrap-around windows and french doors leading to the veranda. Certainly, a window cleaner's dream house.
The landscaping out front is a bit lackluster, however, it is the dead of winter so there isn’t much to see. It may be a good idea to plant some perennials to brighten up the curb appeal come spring.
A Grand Entrance
Entering the front door, you are pleasantly surprised by the amount of quality work that has already been done. The marble flooring in the foyer is stunning as are the arches. You also immediately notice all of the natural light that is coming in through the windows in the front of the house as well as the back.
So far so good, right? Looks as though they got more work done than we thought. It is honestly amazing that after sitting stagnant for almost twenty years that the house has held up so well.
It’s All in the Details
Now we have to bring your attention to what is above you when you walk through the door. That small balcony just screams Romeo and Juliet. Notice the archways, the high ceilings, the woodwork, and the small windows near the ceiling, these types of details will definitely win over a buyer.
Logistically speaking though, how do you keep the cobwebs off the ceiling? Do you bring in a small crane or a scissor lift? These are also things you need to think about when buying a house, right? Or are these not the problems of someone who can afford a house like this? Asking for a friend.
Now that we have moved past the foyer you can see that the area breaks off into three living areas, all of which are spacious and open to one another. I suspect the area in the corner would be a great breakfast nook, the area to the left could be a game room and the bright area in front of the massive windows could work well as a formal living room.
Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room. What do you suppose the red recessed dividers are? Perhaps a water feature? An indoor koi pond? A water slide for Nelly’s daughter’s Barbie? Interesting to say the least.
A Cozy Corner
Moving forward into the area that seems like a good fit for the formal living room, you will notice that there is a lovely fireplace with a mantel that is perfect for hanging stockings or displaying family photos.
While the fireplace is definitely a great focal point, these floor-to-ceiling windows are the true show stoppers. The view is pretty remarkable as well, trees and more trees as far as the eye can see. Looks like a really great spot to snuggle up in front of the fire and enjoy a glass of wine.
So Far, So Good
When I say floor-to-ceiling windows, I mean floor-to-ceiling windows. But you also have to take notice of the ceiling. The wooden beams accentuate the geometric design of the room but also make it feel cozy and warm. These types of touches make Nelly’s decision to buy this house understandable.
So, everything looks pretty polished so far. The light fixtures are in, floors and moldings are flawless, it is painted, and the windows are amazing. There is very little work that needs to be done on the ground floor, let’s see how things look upstairs.
A Rude Awakening
Entering the first bedroom it is clear that there is still a lot of work to do on this level. The fireplace, windows, and sliding doors look great but that is about it. The carpet has been ripped out and some tiling needs to be replaced.
There are certain areas where the walls have been patched, probably for electrical work, so the room is in dire need of a few coats of paint. The ceiling fan is a bit dated, most likely the original from 1998 but the natural light in the room is undeniable even on a gloomy day.
Oooof, the master suite is in need of a lot of repairs. As you can see in this corner, the sub-floor is exposed as well as what should be a pretty sturdy safe. They were either in the process of taking the old one out or someone has attempted to rob the house, let’s hope it’s not the latter.
Yes, there is plenty of debris and the walls and floorboards need some love and, more importantly, paint but keep in mind that a lot of the work that needs to be done is cosmetic so the cost to update these areas may not be all that expensive.
Closet With a View
When checking out a potential master bedroom it is all about the closet and this one looks like it is in pretty good shape. A closet organizer system has been installed offering the new owner plenty of shelving and rods to store their wardrobe.
It may not be big enough to hold all of Nelly’s hip hop brands, even so, it is spacious. The most precious part of the walk-in is the quaint flower-shaped window installed to let in some natural light.
Big Ticket Item
Bathroom renovations tend to be rather expensive so a potential buyer may want to pay close attention to their state. Let’s cross our fingers for Nelly’s sake that the contractors made the loos a priority.
Surprisingly, the en-suite of the master looks as though it is just about complete. The cabinets, countertop, and sinks have all been installed, the bathtub is fitted, tiled, and grouted as is the shower. As you can see they went for high-end marble floors which not only look amazing, but they also add a lot of value. Looks like all that needs to be done is to install the shower cubicle so the new owners can cross this big-ticket item off of their list.
Don’t Get Your Hopes Up
While the master en-suite looks amazing, walking into the next bathroom you can see there is a ton of work to still do. Aside from the debris and dust, it looks as though there are some plumbing updates that need to be tackled.
With a little elbow grease, the bathtub can be salvaged, however, without a faucet it isn’t of much use. The difference between the two bathrooms is night and day. Speaking of day, let's explore the second-floor outdoor space. With the views this house offers, a balcony is a must.
A Room With a View
While the master bedroom offers plenty of square footage, it also has bonus space with this massive balcony. Though the wrought iron railing is a beautiful accent, the view is what draws your eye. Trees as far as the eye can see as well as an aerial view of the enormous basketball court below.
The balcony itself offers a ton of space for a set of tables and chairs, a few chaise lounges, even a couch if you wanted to create an outdoor living space. While winter isn’t necessarily the best month to enjoy the balcony, on a warm summer evening, it is the perfect area to chill.
Three Car Garage
Let’s put the view on hold and head downstairs to the garage. For anyone who has experienced a Missouri winter, you know how important it is to park your car indoors. No ice on the windshield, no need to warm the car up for 15 minutes, and no additional wear and tear on your vehicle.
Not only can this garage house three vehicles, but it also has plenty of room for a workshop. As you can see Nelly is storing one of his toys in here but from the looks of it, this area can also use a little bit of work. Recycle those boxes and give it a good cleaning and you should be good to go.
Just inside the garage doorway is what looks like a dedicated laundry room. This space, in particular, is showing its age and could have potential buyers concerned. While the rotted window frame is an easy fix, the area with the missing tiles beneath the plumbing fixtures looks as though it could be covered with mold.
On the upside, the room itself is quite spacious. There is plenty of space for a washer, dryer, folding table, and cabinets for storage should the buyer choose to add them. Another added bonus is you can have a view while doing the laundry.
The Heart of the Home
The laundry room leads directly into the kitchen. Not only is the kitchen the heart of the home, but it is also a deal maker or breaker for potential buyers. Looking at Nelly’s, it looks as though they made some serious progress, the cabinets are installed as is this incredible marble island.
On closer inspection though, they may not be as far along as we initially thought. If you notice, none of the electrical outlets have been fitted, no hardware has been installed, and there are no appliances. Add those necessities together and you have a rather large price tag.
Use Your Imagination
As you leave the kitchen, you enter into the area with, what we can only assume, is a would-be water feature. To the left is a great space for a family room. Now, you have to use your imagination a bit here because much of the space is unfinished.
The family room has a decent amount of square footage as well as a fireplace and those enormous windows. Once you get some flooring installed, add a mantle to the fireplace, and discard those ridiculously large mirrors, you should be good to go.
Obsessed With the Ceilings
Yes, the family room does need some work but if you look up you will notice these amazing wooden beams accentuating, yet again, the architectural geometric design. There is no way for us to know if the beams were original to the house but whoever decided to put these in made a great decision.
What is interesting about this house is that every time you look up, there is something spectacular to see. Does it erase all the work that needs to be done from our memory? Sorry to say, no.
No Dark and Dingy Basement Here
Alright, it is time to see the basement. Never fear, there is no dark and dingy basement here. A spiral staircase leads the way to this fabulous space. When you reach the bottom you will be pleasantly surprised to find not only a finished basement but a space that is perfect for entertaining.
As you enter you immediately notice just how large of a space it is. There are not one, but two fireplaces as well as a wet bar tucked back along one wall. This would be the perfect location for a pool table, dartboard, foosball table, or even shuffleboard!
A Surprise Around Every Corner
As you meander through the lower level you really start to appreciate the grand scale of the house as around every corner is yet another living space. This room looks as though it is meant to be a home theater.
The screen is fitted over the large window and there is a cabinet and countertop perfect to store the popcorn machine and candy. Can’t you just picture Nelly and his kids sitting on their recliners watching The Longest Yard?
A Homemade Display Case
Tucked away in one of the corners of the basement is either a small room or a very large closet. It is actually hard to determine exactly what this space is meant to be. Either way, glass shelves have been installed everywhere, including above the door (a bit of overkill in my humble opinion).
While this may have been designed as a larger-than-life display case for Nelly’s Grammy Awards, this space may be better utilized as a wine cellar or an overflow pantry. Not saying that the home is lacking storage, there is literally more space than could ever be filled, but rooms like these are meant to be functional and should be defined for a potential buyer.
So, we have seen the majority of the house as well as its unfinished projects, let’s take a look at the grounds. As I said, the mansion is situated on 12-acres of land, much of which is a beautiful forest. The backyard, however, is a wide-open space with plenty of amenities and potential.
The backyard is home to a luxurious swimming pool that sits just above the basketball court which is down the slope of the hill. The amount of land surrounding these two amenities has endless potential. Even though the mansion is a bit dilapidated, this backyard could sway a buyer.
Though the mansion could sell for millions in California or New York, it is located in a small town in Missouri so the location had to be considered when choosing a purchase price. Because Nelly wanted to ensure a quick sale he dropped the listing price down to a measly $599,000, listed as a short sale, which means that Nelly was selling for less than what is owed on the mortgage.
Well, his strategy worked as he received an offer just one week after he posted the listing. The final price was not disclosed. Honestly, this is no surprise. Even though the house is in need of some repairs and finishing work, most of the renovations are in the end phase, only requiring cosmetic additions. Whoever bought this house got a smoking deal.