Take A Tour Of The Real Blood & Money Mansion That Still Haunts Houston
1561 Kirby Drive is a beautiful, historic mansion in an affluent Houston neighborhood. I'd consider myself extremely lucky if I ever got to reside there, in spite of its infamous past.
The crimes that happened at Kirby Drive have been detailed in books, movies, TV shows, and podcasts. It's a fascinating story of wealth, betrayal, keeping up with appearances, and ultimately a murder, or two, depending on your perspective.
The stately home once belonged to famed Houston socialites Joan Robinson Hill and Dr. John Hill. Joan was a very decorated equestrian, and John was a plastic surgeon. Their lives seemed to be particularly blessed with wealth, good looks, and popularity- until, of course, they weren't at all. And the house, particularly the music room, was at the center of the squabbles that escalated into murder. If you believe that a house can hold bad energies, maybe it wouldn't be too nice to live here after all.
John borrowed a lot of money from Joan's "Pa"; the man that adopted her as an infant. Pa adored Joan and wanted only the absolute best for her, having swatted away offers from Hollywood for her to model, and shooing away two previous young marriages. John borrowed a tremendous amount of money to build his dream- a music room beyond compare, complete with Baccarat crystal chandeliers, carved marble, 108 speakers, and the most expensive piano money could buy. Joan grew to resent the music room and everything it represented: John's neglect of her, and his focus on the frivolous:
During their 1968 separation, she had confided in Patti Gordon, a friend who owned a restaurant, that the music room had been central to their troubles. "He doesn't care about me or our son or anybody else. Only that god damned music room. I wish we had never started building it."
It seems that John only cared about two things: the music room and his mistress. In spite of his betrayals, Joan wanted desperately to keep her family together, contesting the divorce that John wanted so he could continue his affair. His mistress had grown tired of being the other woman.
What happened next is terrible and incredibly suspicious. At only 38 years old, Joan got progressively more and more ill, and in her illness was arguably neglected by her husband- did he let her languish in hopes she would die? Did he poison her in the first place? It was suspected that he gave her pastries that were injected with the bacteria that ultimately claimed her life. Even his mistress would attest to this in later life.
Pa fought long and hard to see justice in his beloved daughter's death. John would be the first person in Texas ever charged with "murder by omission" for his failure to provide her with adequate medical care, since investigators found it impossible to prove that John had poisoned her. The first criminal case against John resulted in a mistrial. John wouldn't live to see the second trial, as he was gunned down in a "robbery" or perhaps a contract killing at the Kirby Drive home. Did Pa pay to have John killed? Or did John fake his death to avoid prosecution? Both "conspiracies" have some decent evidence behind them.
1561 Kirby Drive was last sold in 2013. I hope the current owners have had a nice decade there.
Let's take a tour of this infamous, yet absolutely lovely Houston house: