If you thought rapper Flava Flav opening up a chicken restaurant in Clinton, IA was weird, wait until I tell you what Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold once tried to bring to the Hawkeye State...

It's (mostly) common knowledge that Tom Arnold is an Iowa native. He grew up in Ottumwa, IA (not far from my girlfriend, actually). In the early 90s, him and his then-wife Roseanne Barr decided not only to build a sprawling mansion in a tiny enclave in southeast Iowa, but also open a restaurant that would not only serve the community, but them during their sporadic retreats to the area.

The red point is where the mansion is located. Photo Credit: Google Maps
The red point is where the mansion is located. Photo Credit: Google Maps

A Look Back at Roseanne & Tom's Big Food Diner:

Back in 1993, Roseanne and Tom decided to open a restaurant called Roseanne & Tom's Big Food Diner in the small town of Eldon, IA (home of the American Gothic House). In an interview, Tom Arnold openly said of the food, "it's horrible for you, but people seem to like it." Various records and news articles of the time reveal it was a lot of loose, deli-meat sandwiches and fried food. About what you'd expect in Iowa.

An article from the Chicago Tribune reports that the gift shop was as big of a draw as the food. Roseanne & Tom's Big Food Diner sold $16 shirts, $14 hats, $7 coffee mugs, and a $7.50 salt-and-pepper shaker.

Roseanne and Tom's Big Iowa Mansion (That Never Was):

Photo Credit: maxpatch67, YouTube
Photo Credit: maxpatch67, YouTube

Roseanne & Tom's Big Food Diner was more-or-less the justification for the couple to build a sprawling mansion on 1,700 acres of farmland in the town of Eldon.

Per a recent article from Cracked, the couple learned that the only restaurant in town at that time closed at 6:30pm and didn't deliver. So, during their monthly retreats to Eldon, owning their own restaurant assured they'd have something to eat during their visits.

Utterly wild.

The mansion was to be a $16 million, 28,000-square-foot mansion, which would've been the largest single family home in Iowa at the time. Roseanne and Tom mocked it to be a "self-contained utopia," including a heated swimming pool in the basement.

However, a year later, the Arnolds filed for divorce despite construction on their dreamhouse already underway. The couple donated the 1,338-acre property to Indian Hills Community College Foundation, who then sold it to MJW Hawkeye LLC in Florida.

What's Left of the Mansion?:

Today, remnants of the home are still partially in tact. According to a real estate management company interviewed by The Des Moines Register in 2018, the project was too expensive to tear down, so what's left is a lot of concrete, crumbling walls, the outline of a two-acre pond, and a bunch of wiring because of the proposed heated pool.

Several homes now exist on the property nearby the once-proposed-mansion-turned-shack.

The Abandoned Mansion is a Tourist Destination:

Despite the fact that the home sits in the middle of farmland and is difficult to access due to the lack of roads, that doesn't stop tourists and abandoned property enthusiasts from flocking to it.

Satellite images as well as Google Maps renderings show just how far off the beaten path the property is, and contemporary pictures of the home show it's actively been consumed by nature.

Read more about Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold's mansion that-never-was on Cracked's website. You can also find out more information on Abandoned Explorers' website.

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