A lot of people own houses, but how many folks do you know that own an entire town? You could be that lucky person, if you want to buy Johnsonville, a small hamlet in East Haddam, Connecticut.
Spread over 62 acres, Johnsonville is a pastoral wonderland filled with rolling fields, pristine lakes, gushing waterfalls, and plenty of fertile farmland.
It also has immense historic charm and the kind of Victorian homes, churches and restaurants that harken to a bygone era.
It even has a general store, water mill, livery stable, schoolhouse and post office that look it was like they were lifted right out of Little House on the Prairie.
There’s just one little catch: The town is completely abandoned.
Built in 1802, Johnsonville was once a thriving mill community that primarily produced rope for fishnets. By the 1960s, however, it became a flailing Victorian tourist attraction led by businessman Raymond Schmitt, who bought the mill and other buildings from the Johnson family and transferred other Victorian structures to the town. In 1994, Schmitt shut down the attraction following a disagreement with zoning officials, and the once-bustling village became a ghost town.
When Schmitt died in 1998, his estate began selling off some of the town’s antiques and properties, leading some people to believe that the town is haunted by Schmitt’s ghost. But that just lends charm to the purchase because, really, who doesn’t want to own a haunted ghost town in Connecticut? Think of the Halloween parties you could throw!
In 2001, the property was acquired for $2.5 million by Meyer Jabara Hotels, who planned to transform it into over a hundred Victorian, single-family houses, but the economy dashed that dream. In 2014, it was sold in an online auction for only $1.9 million, but the bidder was unable to seal the deal, so now it’s back on the market for less than the price of an average co-op or condo in Manhattan.
If it looks eerily familiar, it might be because it’s been featured in a few movies, including the horror film Deep in the Darkness and the historic drama Freedom. Its biggest claim to fame, however, is that was featured in Billy Joel’s 1993 hit music video, “River of Dreams.”
You can find more information about the property by contacting realtor Sherri Milkie at William Raveis Luxury Properties, but you better act fast because if you’re interested you’ve already got some competition. According to USA Today, potential bidders include a local brewery that wants to set up a farm-to-table restaurant, a celebrity who wants to turn it into a health and wellness center, and, most suitably perhaps, a group of Wiccans who want to use it as a space for worship.