Midget Mansion

San Antonio has a number of unusual stories and legends and one of the most notorious is the “Midget Mansion.” It’s reported to be the scene of a brutal murder/suicide where an entire family was murdered. Residents of San Antonio are familiar with the legendary “Midget Mansion.”

The Tragedy of Midget Mansion

A retired Navy ship Captain and his wife built the house after the Civil War. For some reason, the couple only briefly lived there. They sold the property to another couple who were midgets. This family had two normal-sized daughters and servants.

The midget’s name was Gillespie and he became a renowned businessman in the 1920s. Unfortunately, his great success didn’t alleviate the harassment he got in the community. Several years later Gillespie went mad. No one knows why he did it, but one night he killed his entire family. He slit their throats and dragged them into a spare room. He sealed the space up. He then took a handgun and shot himself.

No one wanted the property after that. Decades later, it had fallen into ruin. Teens frequently broke in and vandalized the property. Eventually the place was demolished and is now luxury condos. 


The Truth about Midget Mansion

It is a great campfire tale that’s often embellished to make it more sensational. Sometimes a few of the victims were walled up alive. In that account, they left crime details written on the wall, often in their own blood.

The “Midget Mansion” was actually the Donore Manor. Several houses throughout San Antonio have been given the title, but the genuine house is gone today. There is no formal record of actual midgets living in the house. The structure was created with low ceilings and low-hanging fixtures, which could’ve been done out of necessity as much as practicality. Old homes with vaulted or cathedral ceilings were very difficult to heat. Many older houses have low ceilings so the residents could easily heat the rooms.

Other variations of the story state Gillespie cut the throats of his family and sealed them in. Some legends dictate that he used a shotgun to kill everyone, including himself.

There are also variants that state the midgets were cannibals, or the servants were the midgets and they killed the family for money. According to this tale, they killed one another when they argued about who would get a greater sum.

There is no existing documentation of this story at all. The Dunore Manor was never the scene of any murder/suicides. The legend of the Midget Mansion isn’t known to exist until the 1970s.

Logical theories declare the original builder was either a retired Civil War officer or Naval captain. He was not a “midget,” but he was shorter than normal at around five feet tall. His descendents moved away in the 1960s and the home fell into ruin due to neglect.

Imaginations remain active today as a new apartment complex stands where the old manor once did. Many complaints lodged against this new facility are similar to those made about paranormally active homes. Only 44% out of 157 tenants recommend the place, despite its relatively recent construction. The most common issues are electric malfunctioning, crickets or bees somehow entering apartments, plumbing issues, mold and strange voices carrying through the walls.

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