Bigging-Up a Bargain Mini Mansion

‘Stately Cape Cod style ‘mini mansion’ in North Carolina with 1.14 acres of land for sale for just £44,000; it is situated in a town that was the birthplace of the biggest ever American

Following on from our hugely popular feature on an Edwardian ‘mini mansion’ complete with a basketball court in the roof in Illinois for just £141,000 or £20 per square foot last week, we thought we’d go one better: Today, we share with you a late Victorian equivalent in the “rural, liberal” small town of Rich Square, North Carolina for an even more astonishing price of £43,900 or £16 per square foot.


Built in 1895 and extending to 3,400 square foot in total, the 2 reception room, 4 bedroom, 1 bathroom house on a plot of 1.14 acres is lauded as “stately” by selling agent Nancy G. Freeman of Freeman Realty and has previously been described as being of the “Cape Cod school of architecture.”


Though “ready for restoration,” the building includes the kind of wrap-around-porch one associates with American homes of that era, an original staircase, acid etched glasswork and wooden flooring.


Rich Square itself does not appear to be an especially notable place, but the settlement was the birthplace of an American who became famous as one of the largest men ever in human history in terms of both height and weight. Farmer and innkeeper Mills Darden (1799 – 1857) reportedly weighed as much as 1,700lb, was (allegedly depending upon whom you believe) 8-foot, 5-inches tall and wore a coat inside which three ordinary sized men could easily be fitted. His typical breakfast menu included “a dozen eggs, two quarts of coffee, a gallon of water, and 30 buttered biscuits.”  We’ll take that twice.


“The largest man in the world” Mills Darden is the most famous son of Rich Square and a plaque to him (right) stands in the town in his honour. Though this sign suggests he was 8-foot, 5-inches tall, other reports state that he was slightly shorter at 7-foot, 6 inches – either way he was bloody ginormous! When he died it “took over a hundred feet of plank to make is coffin” along with “16 yards of 4-4 cambric was used for the winding sheet; 17 yards of 34 flannel for lining coffin; three pounds of nails were used in making the coffin; 44-yards of ribbon were used for trimming and 4 boxes of tacks in fastening the lining and covering.” Pictures of this man – whose voice could supposedly be heard a mile away when he shouted – circulated on the Internet are mostly fake, though the one here (left) is believed to be genuine.

The Numbers – 200 East Jackson Street, Woodland, Rich Square, Northampton County, North Carolina, NC 27869, United States of America

January 2020 – The mini mansion is yet again relisted for sale for £43,900 ($54,900, €48,600 or درهم201,600) through Freeman Realty, a price reduction of 30.5% on its September 2001 asking price.

January 2018 – Relisted for sale again for the lower sum of £45,500 ($56,900, €50,400 or درهم209,000).

January 2016 – Relisted for sale again for £47,900 ($59,900, €53,100 or درهم220,000).

September 2011 – The mini mansion is first listed for sale for £63,200 ($79,000, €70,000 or درهم290,000)

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The entrance hall and original staircase of the ‘mini mansion’ are indicative that it was at one time a grand residence.
A sitting room that looks to be in perfectly good condition, though the furnishings give it the look of a “geriatric home” according to some leaving comments on the ‘Old House Dreams’ website.
This wood paneled room, equally, appears to be clean and tidy, though could do with taking out of the 1970s in terms of its décor.
Clearly, the last occupant of the ‘mini mansion’ had a fetish for chairs. They’re everywhere.
Yet more chairs are to be found in this additional sitting space.
Light fixtures were plainly also an obsession of the owner or occupant also.
The kitchen is perfectly clean surprisingly, but any buyer would, of course, rip it out.
On the website ‘Old House Dreams,’ those leaving comments generally whoop in delight about this bedstead. They reference it a “Jenny Lynn spool turned bed.”
Parts of the ‘mini mansion’ are in a serious state of disrepair; in this room, the ceiling has caved in.
An original claw foot bath tub is to be found in the house’s only bathroom.
Another view of the room.
The building has various later additions to the rear. They likely require demolition.
The exterior is clearly in need of a great deal of attention.
A view of the ‘mini mansion’ from the road.
The properties that immediately neighbour the ‘mini mansion’ 200 East Jackson Street, Woodland have been assessed as being worth £86,000 ($108,000) and £79,000 ($99,000) whilst other 4-bedroom houses in the area have sold for as much as £119,000 ($149,000).
Rich Square, Northampton County, North Carolina is situated just inland from the eastern coastline of America; major settlements include Norfolk, Virginia to the north-east, Durham and Raleigh to the west and Jacksonville to the south.
A YouTube video lauding Mills Darden.
Another YouTube video features another former son of the town of Rich Square, Charles Jenkins (1940 – 2017), returning to visit in 2005. Jenkins was a United States Army soldier who lived in North Korea from 1965 until 2004 after deserting his unit and crossing the Korean Demilitarized Zone. He died in Japan.  
Matthew Steeples
A graduate of the London School of Economics, Matthew Steeples is a writer and marketing consultant. He conceived The Steeple Times as a media arena to fill the void between the Mail Online, The Huffington Post and such organs as the New York Social Diary in 2012.


  1. Wrecking ball urgently and most definitely required!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Send the effing machine in!!!!!!!!!!! This rot infested pit is probably full of rats and the ghosts of the fatsos of America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who’d want to live in a place like this???????????????? The fact that no one has bought it speaks the truth because it is NOBODY!!!!!!!! NOBODY!!!!!!!!!! NEVER EVER!!!!!!!!! PULL IT DOWN; swing baby swing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. It is beautiful and that is why Rod doesn’t like it. Rod plainly is a very ugly individual. From what we’ve learnt about him here over the years he is a) Australian, b) misogynist, c) fat (so he should like this town’s most notable chap surely), d) spends his time drinking Castlemaine and e) is a marketing consultant (who seems to be the antithesis of a marketing person). What an awful combination!

  3. As a property professional, I would remind readers that it is all about LOCATION, LOCATION and LOCATION yet again. Without wishing to sound like Kirstie Allsopp, I would say that this place just doesn’t have it and in the condition it is in, it is effectively a building plot. It is not a protected building and as much as it has some lovely features, it looks likely that it is too far gone to salvage. As a plot of land, the price is far too high – hence why no one is biting.

  4. It could make for a lovely holiday home for someone. It is not that far from the coast and I am sure the rural hicks are lovely once you get used to them.

  5. That’s the USA:
    so much land and beautiful houses that you can have for nothing, if you don’t mind some backward, garbage locale.

  6. Yolanda sums it up, as ever. Despite some nice features, it’s beyond salvage. Apart from anything else, think of the cost of putting in another couple of loos. American homes have an unbelievable number of bathrooms, but amazingly this one has just the one.
    Rodders is correct on this occasion (I mean, even a broken clock is right twice a day), wrecking ball needed.


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