Approximately 15 miles east of Yellowstone National Park sits a structure known as the Smith Mansion. This rambling, five-story house built out of salvaged, wildfire-damaged pine was the passion of an eccentric engineer named Francis Lee Smith, who built the structure single-handedly.
Smith began the project in approximately 1980, intending on building a log cabin home for his family that blended in with the glorious Wyoming wilderness. His family lived in the house for a while, despite there being no electricity except that provided by an extension cord connected to a generator. A wood stove was the only source of heat. The family dining table was a large tree stump, with smaller stumps as chairs. Smith built no separated bedrooms in the house; instead, he, his wife and two children slept in sleeping bags on the floor.
This arrangement satisfied Mrs. Smith for a few years, until her husband's constant work on the house instead of family time pushed her too far. She divorced him in the early 1980s, took the children and moved to another city. A dejected Smith poured everything he had into the house, building addition after addition, without blueprints from which to work. In 1992, Smith lost his life to his obsession when he fell from a balcony while working on the house and died from his injuries.
Smith's chaotic building of a house with no planned ending is reminiscent of possibly mentally unstable personalities such as Sarah Winchester, heiress to to the Winchester gun fortune, who kept building her San Jose mansion until she died in an effort to assuage the spirits of those shot by Winchester guns. Yet Smith's ex wife and daughter both claim his furious construction was not the result of mental illness. Smith's daughter Sunny Larsen is currently the owner of the structure and is attempting to raise money for its rehabilitation. Visit her website and view the video below to learn more.