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The "Haunted House" at Stevens Golf Course

Posted by Jim Barnes 
During the 1950's, and up until 1972, there was a dilapidated 2 story wooden mansion on a hilltop about 3 miles west of the courthouse, next to the Stevens Park Golf Course. The wildly overgrown 3 acre site was frequently visited by area juveniles, who came to see two "witches" who lived in this "Haunted House". The Middlebrook sisters were actually highly refined young society ladies whose family fortunes left them isolated without any financial support.
I am doing historical research on the Middlebrook family, and their "haunted house", which apparently was originally built by Dr. John H. Stevens in about 1871. The house was utterly destroyed in a mysterious fire one early morning in January of 1972 which killed 83 year old Cecilia Middlebrook, the last surviving sister.
Does anyone have any memories of the house, or stories (however faniciful) about it, its kookie inhabitants, or its taunting visitors?
Is this the house that sat adjacent to the #4 tee on Steven's Park golf course in the 60s?
Yes, I think so, but I'm not a golfer and I'm not sure. Also, the tees have been re-numbered over the years ("front" and "back" nines reversed).
The "haunted house" was at 1223 Plymouth Road, at the intersection with Marydale Drive, one block north of Colorado Blvd. It was just north (behind) the Christian Science church. The house stood at the highest point of the golf course, other than the clubhouse.
The site is currently marked by a street (and condominum group) named "Middlebrook Place", just to the south of where US Interstate #30 (the old Fort Worth Turnpike) crosses under Fort Worth Aveenue (sometimes called "the Fort Worth Cut-off&quotwinking smiley. The site is two blocks East of Hampton Road.
I remember driving by the haunted house many times in the mid to late 50s. We always heard the place was haunted. We actually saw one of the old ladies a couple of times. It was a good place to go by on Halloween, especially if you had a girl with you to scare. I hadnt thought of that house in many a year. Bill Strouse
david fisk
Re: The "Haunted House" at Stevens Golf Course
September 13, 2001 10:06AM
us neighborhood kids in 60s called it "Mary's Scary House"
Many times over the years we drove by "The Witch House". Growing up in Oak Cliff I recall taking dates by the house. It always seemed to work. My older brothers also would do the same in the late 60's.
My uncle who was blind used to listen to a police scanner late at night and he used to tell me that nearly every weekend the police were called out to the location. He also was the person that told me about the house burning down and that everyone thought it might have been some kids that were responsible.
In 1968 a friend and I were in the area selling candy for BBI and dared each other to go up and knock on the door. Finally working up the courage we both went and were pleasantly surprised when one of the sisters came to the door and bought a bar of candy from each of us. She paid with pennies. She even offered us some lemonade. This was the only time I stopped at the house but later on used to catch glimpses of the sister.
Thanks for the stories
September 14, 2001 11:11AM
I hadn't ever heard "Mary's Scarey House" before.
The Middlebrook sisters were certainly colorful characters. When the house burned down it was the front page picture the next day.
Visited once with some friends one day, it was scary looking. Shingles missing, unpainted wood clapboards. Looked like the Munster's place! We just thought it was scary, but uninhabited. Took double dates by there years later and one of the old ladies came out and scared us silly! Went back once, years later, on the way to meet friends for a round of golf, and the place was replaced by nice, new condos.
Along the same line, does anyone remember the "witches" and the LPC Towers bldgs on I-35 in Dallas? Actually. it was a grouping of three or four modernistic black stone designs in sort of a Stonehenge formation. However, from a distance (where you would keep the victim for their "safety), it appeared to be three or four hooded witches. They were pulled in the 70's.
Interesting story on the herd website-newsletter # 27 page 6.
I remember stories of what we called "Granny's Mansion" in the late 60's and early 70's. We were told that the inhabitant had a shotgun, and would fire on anyone who trespassed on her property. All we ever did was drive by and try to look down the drive to see the door, but I always heard of bad kids who would throw rocks and so forth at the house.
Later, I heard that the developers of the condominiums had been paying local kids to escalate the taunting in an effort to get Miss Middlefield to sell her property. There were rumors that this was how the fire started.
I remember, too -- and maybe this came from the news coverage after the fire -- stories about the grandeur of the house. A carriage house with carriage still inside, peacocks that roamed the property, etc.
I remember in the 50's my sister and her friends coming in one night and my sister and her other friends crying in pain. Her and some friends thought it would be fun and scary to go up and look in the windows.Bad idea, not only did Ms Middlebrook have a shot gun, but it was full of salt pellets. She got 2 out of 4 girls. One being my sister. She had to tell mom and she got in more trouble for bothering those poor old ladys. We lived just down Plymouth Rd at Virgina Manor Apts. My mom would see her going to the store pulling one of those grocery carts and go get in the car and take her, and take her back home, us kids would seat in the back seat not saying a word. Then many years later I was passing by and saw Ms Middlebrook outside and stopped and talked to her. I reminded her who I was and my mom, and she did remember me. Thank goodness. I told her how interesting the house was and how old it must have been. To my surprise she said would you like to see the house. Of course I would. She started walking around to the front walking around big round patches of cactus. These were everywhere, guess what they were for? Anyway the front of the house faced east and the back of the house was what we would see from Plymouth Rd. As we turned the corner I saw a long porch. She said we could go on the porch but not inside. I could still look inside and saw a long stair case going up to the 2nd floor. To the left was what looked like a dining room, I could see a table that looked like it ran the length of the room. I couldn't see the whole room because of the angle, but what I did see was incredible. She told me somethings about the house and it's history. This lasted about 15 mins and she all of a sudden said well it's time for you to go. Which I thanked her and stated leaving. I know when she said time to go she ment it. She walked me back around to the back and said if I like to come back sometime, she said I might show you the inside. I couln't beleive she was going to show me the inside. I told her I'd be honor. So with that I left. I think it was 2 or 3 weeks later the house burns down, with her inside. The house must have been magnificent in it's day. Such a shame. Ms Middlebrook was really a nice lady, she just had to protect her sister, and the past history of the house and the past history of the family. There's some books at the library about old houses in Dallas that has the house in them. I don't remember the name of the books. It shouldn't be hard to find it. I bet some of the people on the tread know more about it. Have more stories but would take to much space. thanks
Fred Ragsdale
Re: The "Haunted House" at Stevens Golf Course
October 23, 2004 12:23AM
Great input to the board, Michael! Thank you for contributing that personal involvement.
I once managed apartments on Plymouth Rd., on the West side, North of Davis, and then further North on the East side and had the creek in back, not far from where the road connected with Hampton. That was in the mid-1960s.
I grew up in Oak Cliff, further South, but had heard of the haunted house when in high school at Sunset. I've learned a lot about the house and it's occupants from this board and postings like yours. Thanks.
Fred
Fred, Your welcome for my story. I have a few more but it would be to long. There were some very strange things that happened around there in the 50's. Not only to me but to my mom as well. Thanks Michael
Middlebrook Sisters -- the book
November 02, 2004 10:45AM
The Dealey Library of the Dallas Historical Society has a copy of my compiled historical research notes, titled "The Middlebrook Sisters and their 'Haunted House'", totalling more than 300 pages of documentary evidence.
I'm always delighted to read more reports of people's experiences with the Sisters. Thanks for the fresh postings. The Sisters were certainly the Kessler-Stevens Park area's most famous residences, visited by hundreds. Stories, of course, vary. Next door neighbor Jane Singleton McDaniels, the Sisters' closest ally, told me that the police had repeatedly advised the Sisters to buy a gun, and use it, but that it was she (Jane, not the Middlebrook's) who bought the shotgun and used it on the hecklers, nearly fatally in one instance. Jane says the Sisters refused to buy a gun. But I remember the shotgun stories myself, when I was a youth in the neighborhood. Of the people who visited with the Sisters, no one ever reports anything but that they were kind and delightful ladies, though a bit "odd" sometimes.
No one (I have heard from) ever went inside the "haunted house". But, almost everyone who ever stood at the front door and looked inside still remembers a grand stairway. After long and detailing searching, I can find no photograph of the "haunted house" (except the news stories taken in the fire's aftermath of total destruction). If one is known to exit, I would certainly be interested in having a copy.
Incidentally, the Virginia Manor Apartments to the northwest of the Middlebrook Sisters estate was owned in the 1950s by a young real estate investor by the name of Trammell Crow. They became "Lincoln Properties - #1". The Crow corporation sold those units off many years ago though.
Re: Middlebrook Sisters -- the book
November 02, 2004 10:40PM
I must read your note. Where do I go to see them??? I do have other stories of things that happened around the house. I'd like to see if some of the things also happened to them. Thanks MB
Thanks Mike. The Middelbrook Sisters are really fabulously interesting characters.
My research notes are in the Dealey Library is in the Hall of State at Fair Park. An appointment with the Librarian (Rachel Roberts) is usally a good idea, though the Library is open for limited hours during the week. There is more information at the "home page" for this website:
[www.dallashistory.org]
Actually, most of the stories are from this Message Board, though I typed up a few of the other ones I picked up as well.
If you would like to read the books "Summary", along with the "Arson investigation report" (much disputed by neighbor Jane McDaniel), and transcriptions of Middelbrook Sisters' letters from the 1920s, you may do so by visiting:
[www.laurissa.com]
It is my researched opinion that the Middlebrook Sisters' "Haunted House" was originally the Stevens' family farmhouse (c.1872), modified in changes rendered during the ownership of J.T. Duncan (1889-1910). Addition reconstruction plans that I created may be viewed at:
[www.laurissa.com]
Re: The "Haunted House" at Stevens Golf Course
April 15, 2011 07:17AM
Thought I would bring this old thread back that Jim Barnes started back in 2001 about the Haunted House near Stevens Park Golf Course.....the Middlebrook Sisters lived there and it was a poplar spot back many years ago, I remember driving by it many, many times and I guarantee you it really looked like a big ole Haunted House, in 1972 it burned and sadly the surviving Sister was killed in the Fire.......anyone remember this old House........Bill Strouse
bug
Re: The "Haunted House" at Stevens Golf Course
April 15, 2011 09:36AM
Fascinating stories,horribly sad ending.

Thanks for resurrecting the thread, sure would like to see some pictures...
Re: The "Haunted House" at Stevens Golf Course
April 15, 2011 01:24PM
For the record, Jim Barnes inactive links to the Laurissa site can be accessed via Archive.Org's "Way Back Machine":

[replay.waybackmachine.org]
Re: The "Haunted House" at Stevens Golf Course
July 29, 2012 02:13PM
Kids n others were mostly horrible to those old ladys[also 2 german shepherds] Shooting fire works tormenting them,Very nice people.I remember going by the ruins one hot aaaaugust eve. and being absorbed in a very cold air in one spot.RIP
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