Why It's Special
I lived in Abilene Texas until I was about 9 years old. We were forced to move after my mother was laid off from Dyase Air Force Base and my father from General Dynamics. Abilene, to me, was a small quiet, content town. During my time there, I attended the same school, took dance at a local studio, spent the summers at the YMCA summer camp and was always doing something with girl scouts. Leaving was hard because at 9 I already had everything planned out. I had decided I was going to be a coger'et at Cooper High, have the biggest mum during homecoming and was only going to leave when it was time to go to Texas A&M. To this day I believe the move was for the worst and I think things would have taken a different direction had we stayed, maybe. Although I have basic memories of that time and place, there are two places in Abilene that have a special remembrance. One of them being The Paramount Theater, I have never seen another place like it, and The Abilene Mansion.
The Abilene mansion was located on Buffalo Gap Road, a road traveled daily by my mom, sister, and I. The greatest part of this road was the Abilene Mansion. Every morning I would ask my mom "tell me when it is coming up". Falling back asleep most morning, I would be awoken to, “okay Barbie, it’s coming up”. I would press my face against the window anxious to see the enormous palace. To me, at that age, that house equaled MAGIC. It was the closest thing to a castle in a fairy tale. In my mind it was my mansion or would be one day. It was so mysterious standing behind the rod iron fence and closed gates. It revealed very little, if any, light from occupancy. During the duration I passed the mansion, it was vacant and has been for most of its life. In my little girl mind that was ok. I would occupy it one day, bringing the gardens back to life and assuring every lantern and lamp post had fresh bulbs to brighten it’s beauty for everyone. I would sit out on the balcony, which wasn’t a balcony at all, but I didn’t know that, and have breakfast with my husband. I would entertain and have huge parties, which, in my imagination, where like a Cinderella’s ball, Entertained by live bands and fancy dresses. I found this part of my “little girl imagination” ironic when recently seeing pictures of the large blue ballroom in side of the mansion.
I wanted to share the history and pictures of the mansion, I thought to be so amazing, with others that will never travel to this small town. It probably means more to me than it does to you, but the architecture and design is magnificent to see within itself. I have not physical seen the mansion in over 18 years and since then it has suffered neglect, but I still find this place fascinating.
According to Abilene Reporter-News
For 15 years, the white mansion on Buffalo Gap Road sat slowly decaying as it was passed from one owner to the next.
And while its exterior white paint and decorative wood trim chipped away, public interest in the 12,000-square-foot home, one story, never waned. In fact, there's perhaps no other building in Abilene that has generated more interest and questions over the last two decades.
The regal home became an instant landmark following its construction in 1983.The home's original owner, Peter Kasimirs, was born in what is now Poland and lived and worked in Germany as a young man. He immigrated to Canada in 1952 without a penny to his name, but dreamed of working in the United States. He eventually followed his dream to Alabama, where he found his success in the hotel business.
In 1973, he and his wife, Pat, bought the Royal Inn in Abilene, Texas. They also bought an old house that had stood for years at 7302 Buffalo Gap Road. The Royal Inn thrived, and the Kasimirs decided to build a bigger home.
Pat Kasimirs still lives and works in Abilene. Peter Kasimirs died in 2006 at age 93. Pat Kasimirs said they planned to expand around the old house, but couldn't because the house's foundation was not strong enough to support the planned additions.
So in 1983, they tore down the home and started from scratch.
Peter Kasimirs loved European architecture, and Pat Kasimirs, who was from Alabama, loved colonial homes. So they compromised. "That's how the design of the house came about," Pat explained. "We kind of sat down together and combined what I liked and what he liked and designed the house."
Rumors circulated that the home was modeled after the Alabama governor's mansion, but Pat Kasimirs stated, "No way, It looks nothing like the Alabama governor's mansion. It does not look like the White House in Washington, D.C."
Yet "The White House" has been a common nickname for the sprawling mansion -- as has "The Elvis House." (It does not look like Graceland either.)
Kasimirs said the construction caused quite a stir in 1983, and people gossiped about what the house was going to be, suggesting everything from a museum to a place for illegal activity.
"There were all types of rumors," Kasimirs said. "You name it. It was hilarious from one day to the next. We would neither confirm or deny. We kept everybody guessing. There was always a lot of curious people."
She said no one could believe that a seven-bedroom house, covering more than 12,000 square feet on more than three acres of land, was simply going to be their home.
A Dream Come True
The house was a dream come true for her husband, said Pat Kasimirs, 65, and he was determined to build it with the best materials available. "We didn't cut corners at all," she said. "He had his hands on every part of it. The house is very well-constructed."
In 2005 the home cost $2.5 million. More recently, she said it was around $1 million.
The construction took several years. Materials were imported from Italy, Austria and South America, among other places, and much of the glass and crown molding was handmade.
"The glass that is in that house was handmade, hand-cut," Kasimirs said. "Local artisans did that. It was very time consuming." She said the beveled, leaded glass in the entrance hall is particularly beautiful.
"That hall is so fascinating," she said. "As the sun goes down, you get a rainbow of colors. It's just absolutely fantastic."
Pat Kasimirs said the library was one of her favorite places in the house. All four walls were covered in shelves from ceiling to floor, and the shelves were made of solid red oak.
At the end of the longest hall is a large blue room with a fireplace and a full wet bar made of solid mahogany with a marble countertop. The blue room served as their game room, and they entertained there quite a bit.
The kitchen is relatively small compared to the rest of the house, but it is covered with solid red oak cabinets all the way to the ceiling. It also has a rose-colored marble floor and marble countertops, Kasimirs said.
The kitchen leads to the formal dining room, which boasts beautiful stained-glass doors. From the dining room comes a foyer with doors leading to the indoor pool on the south side and doors leading to a more formal living room on the west side.
Throughout the home are chandeliers that Kasimirs said were imported from Austria and are Swarovski crystal.
The house also has a little apartment in the back, which the Kasimirs hoped to use when family visited. Their son ended up living there when he was home from school, Pat Kasimirs said.
The house also had a three-car garage, and Peter Kasimirs planted more than 200 evergreens throughout the three-plus acres. The grounds also had an outdoor pool and a fountain.
"It turned out to be a beautiful home," Kasimirs said.
The Dream Dies
The Kasimirs had lived in the house for six or seven years when their fortunes took a turn for the worse. Pat Kasimirs said their accountant made some poor stock market decisions, and the couple literally lost a fortune.
"We lost everything we had," she said. "It's just one of those unfortunate things. It was one of those things that could have been avoided."
The Kasimirs were bankrupt and did not have the money to keep their dream home.
"We did not give up the house voluntarily, I assure you of that," she said. "We continued to live there as long as we possibly could. We stayed there for a time knowing that foreclosure was pending."
In 1990, they were forced to leave. Before they left, they let the public see their beloved mansion. They had an open house and donated the proceeds to the local soup kitchen, a genitures act considering they had no money and fallen from prospering to poverty.
"It was a super-fantastic turnout," Kasimirs said. "More than we ever thought it would be. The house attracts people."
Kasimirs said she and her husband hated to see the deterioration in the house over the years, and in the later years of her husband's life, she would not even drive him by it.
His wife chokes up a little when she thinks about what the home meant to both of them.
"I loved the house," she said. "I enjoyed living there. We had some fantastic memories there."
The Wrong People To Purchase In My Opinion
Since 1990, the mansion has passed from owner to owner, many of them from out of state. Twice it's been repossessed by an out-of-state bank.
Champions Church, which has been around since 2000, purchased the building in April, and church leaders call the house "The Mansion" and say they plan to immediately restore it to its former grandeur.
I was not excited to read this. I guess they took it over in 2009. Many others were also unhappy to see it go to “another”, their words not mine, church.. It will be turned into a commercial property, eventually dwindling out the mystery and magic. I can not see a company or organization appreciating or cherishing it as the Kasimirs did. Unfortunately I can see them conforming/destroying the original architecture to fit their needs and wants for profit. Maybe not at first, but time will pass and they will do as they will.
"We're not doing any structural changes to the building," said Champions Church Senior Pastor Richard Humphries. "We are basically restoring it."
The Mansion will soon house the church's administration offices and several of its ministries. The facility also will be available to the community for weddings, business meetings and more.
The asking price for the home was way below the appraised value of more than $770,000.
Although the church paid less than market value, by the time extensive restoration work is figured into the totals, Humphries figures they will have spent the appraised value or more on the building, “that’s what they refer it to”. But it would have cost $1.2 to $1.9 million to build the same size facility from scratch.
Plus, the location of The Mansion made it a natural fit with the church's longtime goal of becoming an active, thriving part of the Wylie community. The church “already owns” the Wylie Swim Club, the land between the church and The Mansion and the lot directly behind The Mansion.
They started “the renovation” or as I call it, “the destruction” by removing the two pools. The church leaders did not want to keep them because they already own the Wylie Swim Club, and don’t think the pools fit in with the home's new role. “See, they are going to destroy it”
They also planned on replacing all the wallpaper and carpet.
The Church leaders had already started speaking of their profits saying “the huge entrance hall will be a perfect place for weddings and can easily seat 60-100 people”.
"The outside will be completely restored, and it will get a new roof," he said. "Then we will start to repair some of the interior."
The Humphries said they are aware that neighbors have had problems with past owners who tried to open the building to the public (which never happened, it is NOT zoned for commercial property) -- particularly with parking and traffic.
I am upset that the mansion is being conformed by a church. Sadly, I do not believe that they will keep their promise to restore it, but eventually conform it (as they started from the begging). I do not know the current state of the mansion. Or if the church was able to afford and keep the mansion. The most recent information I could find was dated 2009. If anyone comes across this hub that does live in the Abilene area, I would than appreciate an update.
sabah yousaf from pakistan on July 31, 2020:
wao liked your piece of writing,carry on
pdlwaste solutionsllc from Edgerton,USA on July 28, 2020:
Lifetime Abilenian on February 27, 2020:
I recall as a young child standing in the main entryway dancing with my grandfather, rather standing on his feet as he danced feeling like Cinderella at the ball. He & my grandmother, both deceased, lived there for a time... As long as it's still around I am happy.
Nathan Walker on April 04, 2018:
Hey guys, I actually do go to Champions Church, and have since 2009, when they bought the white house.
I’m not going to sit here and try to defend the church’s decision to acquire the house. However, I can tell you, the leadership of the church, which has changed somewhat over the course of the last nine years, does not do anything without what they believe is a God given purpose and intention, and in all the time I’ve been here they have always operated in faith, but also in frugality, not doing anything without intention. If you believe it’s un-Christian for a church to have nice things, please show me at least two places in the scripture (with context) where that is the case. Then go and tell the same thing to all the multimillion dollar mega churches out there.
Being in a land owning family, and personally working around the real estate industry, I was, personally, somewhat wary of the mansion (that’s what it is, a mansion) purchase when I first learned of it, and I would have agreed that the church would have been better served making further renovations to our current building. But when I personally got to know the leadership, spent time with them, and listened to their intention and their vision for the future of the church, I came on board with them, not because it was a cool big house, not because the church was after any kind of bragging rights, but because I believe in the people that make up our leadership. And until they do something to lose my trust, they will continue to have my loyalty.
Yes money is tight right now, for everyone, and for that reason the restoration did not go as the church had planned. This is no fault of the church’s whatsoever.
All that being said, and I’ll put this in as humble a way as I know how, I would ask that people, especially those with no knowledge of the real situation, cease slinging mud at Champions for doing what they believe God wants them to do.
David Kasimirs on April 18, 2016:
FYI -- I lived on the property before and after what it is today. I believe that there may be an unidentified burial area in the valley between the house and the church. There were ghosts and spirits that would manifest in the house, both before and after the new building. Some of the leaks i the roof were traced to the lowest point on the roof, where the water would then travel back up another beam and drip near the window of the main bedroom, by the closet/room.
Probably best that the pools were closed, since the larger outdoor pool was placed in what was the septic tank area. It was dugout and back-filled with gravel, with the plumbing, but age and lack of maintenance could make it cheaper and safer for the structure to fill remove the pools. The indoor pool area was so nice, it is a shame to think of it filled, tiled and non-organic.
The fruit trees and roses have been decimated by years of neglect and drought. The original plantings were intended to fill the side yard with fruit and nut bearing trees for decades. I know, because I remember digging the holes with my dad, Peter.
Some of the story is true, some is stretched to fit the imagination of the story teller. I remember good times with family and friends, growth, learning and transformation. There were some hard times and there were some not hard at all times. There are the times that I remember and those I wish I could forget... Life is to be lived, shared and enjoyed.
Debbie Dendy on September 16, 2014:
Well besides all the grammar !!!
Their were lots of kids that lived in
Memories that aren't even told.... The times of their lives spent there!!!
So sorry the whole story hasn't been touched!!!! God Bless Grandma!
Justin on September 15, 2014:
It could have been a better written article, had the writer used spell/grammer check once in a while.
Colleen on September 12, 2014:
What a hateful hurtful mean spirited narrow minded article! First of all, they have to make money with it or they wont be able to pay the taxes and pay for upkeep. Second of all it is being restored thoughtfully, not destroyed. It is being turned from a relic that sat neglected for almost two decades to something the community needs and can be proud of! They are turning it form an eyesore to a jewel! Some modern upgrades are being required by the town, and are not the idea of the church. Things like a sprinkler system will make sure that those who come to use the gorgeous facility for their wedding day aren't killed in a horrible fire! If you look at the pictures of how it looks now they are restoring it to its original style. If you people all think you had better plans for it you should have ponied up the money yourself - but since you didn't - you are in NO position to armchair quarterback how it is repaired and used!
Ruth Ray on October 15, 2013:
I realize this is an old post....I too have fond memories of this house. My father, Tom Ryan was an architectual engineer and licensed contractor in Abilene at the time. He was not only the architect, but the general contractor on the job and sept a year or two laboring with floorplans and materials over this. I recall him letting me enter after it was finished and we lived in a rather normal 3 bed house, so it was amazing.
Rich on June 03, 2012:
I have been working in Abilene recently and have driven by this building several times and wondered about it.
Having said that, the article was filled so many grammatical errors it was painful to read.
I always wondered about people that want to tell other people what to do with their property.
Nothing lasts forever and the builders were lucky to get to live out their dream but that has past and now this building, which is just a material thing is owned by another group that will do with it what they will.
And that is as it should be.
I love cool buildings but this is just the reality.
Christina on May 28, 2012:
Thank you so much for posting the history to this beautiful and enticing home. I moved to Abilene in 04 and have always had a fascination and a pull towards it. I've looked for the history on it and wished that church would've posted it instead of dreams from God and how it was meant shine his light upon it. I contacted the church and asked if I could take photographs of it cos I've always wanted to. I'm sure it'll come with a fee. But I'm glad someone has bought it so I can have my chance to feel it's energy, to be honest I've always felt like something was drawing me to it but its probably part of it's charm.
Susan of Abilene on April 15, 2012:
I stumbled upon this article and feel so fortunate; thank you for the time and trouble that you put into it. I've only lived in Abilene since 2006 and didn't know anything about the wonderful Mansion that we pass by occasionally except for the fact about the church buying it. I, too, was dismayed with the information afraid of what they would/will do with it. I'm a Christian and I don't believe that a church should have ownership of something so deep with monetary value besides what it means to the community. I'll try to remember to update you if I hear of anything new. Thank you again for the information and pictures. We've all had the dreams you had when passing by; it's still nice to dream about it. Oh and to the person who so blatantly criticized you and denounced you as a Christian; THAT was NOT a very Christian thing to do!!! Shame on you! Don't embarrass us who strive to do our very best to be good people and spread the word of Christianity as a blessing. I shake my head at you and pray that you ask for forgiveness and apologize to this kind person and thank her for the wonderful article she wrote.
Ashleyy Stapleton on January 10, 2012:
I don't go on Buffalo Gap road that much anymore, but when I do I love looking at the mansion. Last I went by I saw a New Car placed on these things in front of the house. Something about a raffle to win the car or something. I don't know. I'm a Christian, But I don't believe it's right that the church bought the mansion. I never saw it as a place that should be open to Everyone. It seems more of a Home for Magic, Happy endings. and A place to enjoy with your loved ones.
I hate that they took out the two pools! And their replacing the wallpaper? I thought they were more interested in restoring the mansion; Not redecorating it's beauty.
Abilene Is like this bible belt of a city. But Honestly, I don't think they should have bought the mansion as a place of worship. It's soo much more than that; It's everything. The last thing I want to see while I'm driving by the mansion is a big fat parking lot. before you know it there will be a huge Cross on the home. -_-
It's just not what I've always envisioned for the mansion.
FrankiesGirl6Yr (author) from South Carolina on February 22, 2011:
Ha!! And my reply, you must be from that Church and not very bright….
First to answer your question, I don’t know if Abilene is a Christian town, you currently live there, not me. Why are you asking me to convey your surroundings?
Second to address your ignorance; in one sentence you call my views "Religeous Thinking" which you spelt wrong it’s Religious and in the next "You must not be Christian", which again is suppose to be capitalized. So what am I? An unreligious Christian or a Religious anti-Christian? Whichever it is you are trying to suggest, how about suggest so that it may be understood by other readers.
And last, to address your assumption “You must not be a Christian”, if being a Christian by your standards, is to be like you, than no I guess not. What a representation of CHAMPIONS CHURCH. An announced Christian, who miss spells something that is so important to them such as RELIGION, and cannot denote what a teaching that they have “dedicated” their life to.
Do your self a favor and take a Literacy and Interpersonal Communications class so that you don’t continue to embarrass yourself and your church online.
INSPIRATION on February 05, 2011:
I also admire the mansion.. I would drive by and something drew my attention to it....It was so beautiful but then also left me feeling lonely...I couldn't keep my eyes off of it as I passed by....I to thought that it would be awesome to own the mansion....I am so happy that a church purchased the mansion to bring light to Abilene....Abilene is known for being a christian town....but are we????? Sounds to me based on what you have said about Champions Church is all religeous thinking. I have not heard anything positive from you...You must not be a christian....Thank God for Champions Church...
FrankiesGirl6Yr (author) from South Carolina on October 12, 2010:
I would love to return to Abilene, The last time I went back was when I was 12 (16 yrs ago). I would just like to take my kids to the Paramount, little zoo, and of course the mansion. I bet it has grown so much, I wouldn't recognize anything. Thats cool our parents worked at the same places, then again, I think the AFB is main job source there. Thanks for the read
American Romance from America on October 11, 2010:
The mansion is now covered with razor wire the last time I was able to drive by it, My own Dad was layed off from General Dynamics and I was born at Dyes Air Force Base, I too found the mansion to be fascinating as a child, I now live in Hobbs NM, and honestly forgot about it until you brought it up, I saw the mansion a few years ago when returning to Abilene for my Grandmothers funeral.