Bartow’s Historic Wonder House Abandoned, Falling Into Ruin
Decades ago, the Wonder House stood as a Bartow landmark. Postcards touted its state-of-the-art construction, and Depression-era sightseers paid a dime just to tour the engineering marvel.
But no more.
The house, built in the 1920s and 1930s, has become the casualty of divorce. Chuck and Helen Heiden bought the four-story residence in 2003 and had been renovating it, but they abandoned it in April 2011 after filing for divorce, according to city and court records.
They left behind a $180,500 unpaid mortgage, which is in foreclosure, and a Bartow treasure that now stands deserted and desolate.
“It’s certainly tragic that a house of that historical significance is falling into ruin,” said Lloyd Harris, a Bartow historian and chairman of the Polk County Historical Commission. “It’s another old home that, if something isn’t done, is headed for destruction. In years to come, people will wonder how we lost that treasure.
“Right now, it’s a treasure in the rough, but it would need funding. And these are hard times.”