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The Mafia House

Long before condominiums popped up along south New Smyrna Beach there was a lone house that was built on 127 acres of sand dunes overlooking the ocean. This was a very remote area in 1969 and people began wondering why anyone would want to built a house. The strange house covered 6,000 square feet and was more like a fortress with double-paned bullet proof windows, armored-plated doors, ten inch thick steel reinforced concrete walls, and a helicopter landing pad on top. If that was not enough to feed gossip, there were machine gun mounts on the roof and an underground shooting range.

The builder added to the mystery when he put up a chain-link fence around his property with no trespassing signs and refused to allow interviews or photographs of his house. The house sat on pilings and had two electrically operated drawbridges and an elevator that could lift a vehicle into the house. Large utility pipes were placed across the sand roads for extra protection against intruders. Locals could take their pick of rumors about the mysterious owner, some claimed he was part of the Mafia, or that he was the son of a wealthy doctor, or he was a rich oil company executive. Other stories say that he was running from something or that the house had connections to a government spy operation.

The truth is, no one really knew much about the owner until April 20, 1970 when he was found dead in the sand dunes and identified as 44-year old John Maeder of Mount Vernon, New York. The newspaper reported that he had been driving a tractor in the dunes when it tipped over on a 15-foot slope. Maeder’s head was crushed in the accident but near his body a nickel-plated pistol and three spent bullet casings were found by the investigators. Inside his house the authorities discovered several cases of ammunition, anti-aircraft artillery shells, and several guns. There was an inquest into his death which was ruled accidental. Even with all that, Mr. Maeder remains a local mystery.

The strange house has been dubbed the Mafia House by locals who often used it as a landmark when giving directions. “Go past the Mafia House two miles” or “on the beach in front of the Mafia House.” Over the past decades this once remote area has become solid with new beach houses and high rise condominiums. Today it is a little difficult to find the Mafia House, but it is still there sitting between two high rise buildings where it has been used for a club house. Several previous owners and renters of the weird house have reported seeing the ghost of Maeder in the house. Allegedly his ghost has been seen on the roof by people walking the beach. Locals seem to know all about this place; unfortunately everybody has a different opinion and there is still nothing to connect it to the Mafia.

Built By The Mob
That house they call the Mafia house has always been there. I think it was built by the Mafia a long time ago. There was a man killed there, I think he was shot by the mob but the reason it was built was so they could use boats to bring drugs in from ships at sea. Anyway that is the story that I heard. –ducky67

Built By A Rich Man
We always called it the mafia house but I don’t know that it had anything connected to the mafia. It was built in the sixties when all that area was undeveloped. I think there was a black beach down that way. The man who built the house, as I understand, was a rich oil tycoon and in the shipping business. It is true that he really put up a lot of security around there but that is expected if you are rich because you can’t tell when somebody might want to kidnap you for ransom. I don’t think there is anything evil about it. I do know people who say it is haunted but I don’t know about that.  –Adrian

Built By The CIA
It’s not a mafia house. That place was built by the government during the Cuban Crisis to watch the ocean around Cape Kennedy. It was a spy nest for the CIA that is why it has all that James Bond stuff like thick bullet proof glass and secret gun ports and those railing around the edge of the roof. That used to be a helicopter landing place and there were all kinds of antennae sticking up because I remember seeing that. There were a whole string of these houses down the coast. You go to Tybee Island in Savannah and there are some and down in Miami there are some.  –Robert B.

Built By A Drug Lord Or Something
We went by there one night on the beach. We were walking and it was after dark, kinda late and there were like these lights on the roof and when we looked we saw a man and he was all in black clothes and had this like gun or weapon and he was like guarding that place. Later someone told me that there is no one living there and that man we saw isn’t real. I mean he is a ghost of the man who built that place, he was a drug lord or something. It is creepy at night.  –kayla

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