Tucson’s Mysterious Manning House
The historic Manning House sits opposite a traffic circle along West Pso Redondo, near downtown Tucson, Arizona. When Levi Howell Manning built the mansion for his family in 1907, it was situated on 10 acres of fertile grazing pastures. Designed by architect Henry Trost, it is an eclectic combination of Spanish Colonial, Territorial, Italian Renaissance, and Prairie style architecture. It has been used for many purposes over the years, but rumors remain that it is haunted by either Mr. Manning or his son.
Levi H. Manning, son of a Confederate veteran, was born in North Carolina in 1864. While at home on summer break from the University of Mississippi, a fraternity brother and he played a prank that went awry when an elephant they acquired from a local circus escaped and went on a rampage around town. Manning’s mother advised him to leave before his father found out, so in 1884 he fled to Tucson, Arizona. He quickly rose to prominence, spearheading several business and development ventures before being elected mayor of Tucson on an anti-gambling ticket in 1905. One of Manning’s development projects turned the area around his home into an upscale subdivision known as Snob Hollow.
Levi Manning died in 1935 at the age of 71 and his son, Howell Manning, Sr., inherited the property. At the stately home, the Mannings employed a cook, maid, laundress, and chauffeur, and owned an Arabian stallion, cows, chickens, peacocks, and two fish ponds. In 1949, Howell Manning, Sr. relocated his family to the Canoa Ranch 30 miles south of Tucson because he considered the area to be too urban for his tastes. The ranch at one time encompassed over 100,000 acres.
This began a succession of owners, each making dramatic changes to the interior and exterior. The Elks Club owned the Manning House until 1979, when they sold it to the City of Tucson. The city then sold it to a Canadian developer in 1984. The Concannon family purchased it in 1997 for $2.2 million. They spent another $3 million on renovations and opened it as a meeting an events center, which closed in 2012. A struggle ensued over what would happen to the historic property, and to this day it remains closed.
According to the Tucson Weekly, Colleen Concannon once had an employee quit her job at the Manning House after seeing a hazy figure drinking whiskey at the bar. Others have seen the apparition of a man pacing up and down the hallways holding a candlestick. Faucets appear to turn off and on by themselves, and faces materialize in the bathroom mirror. Is this strange activity to blame for the Manning House’s revolving ownership and financial woes? Did the extensive renovations disturb the ghosts of Levi Manning and his family? These are questions to which we may never have answers, but hopefully this stately home and jewel of Tucson history will remain standing for generations to come.