The stretch of U.S. 65 between Ozark and Branson has some of the Ozarks’ most impressive scenery. There are lush, rolling hills, distant horizons and, if you look east, one of the biggest homes in the United States.
A house currently under construction near Highlandville spans almost a full acre from wall to wall, on a 500-acre site. The ambitious project, nearly three years in and barely at the first floor, totals 72,000 square feet.
Putting that figure in perspective might require a few comparisons. According to the Census Bureau, the average new home size over the last five years was between 2,100 and 2,500 square feet. Springfield’s Pythian Castle is between 34,000 and 39,000 square feet, said owner Tamara Finocchiaro. Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ house is 66,000 square feet.
The White House, with three wings on six levels, totals 55,000 square feet.
As for comparisons to local private homes, there may not be any.
“I’m not sure it does compare,” said Todd Wiesehan senior planner with Christian County Planning and Zoning. “It’s a one-of-a-kind project.”
The blueprints attest to that.
Beginning with a 23,000-square-foot basement, the house’s ground level is only slightly smaller and the second story is a little less than 22,000 square feet.
Garage space alone accounts for 4,000 square feet.
Interior plans include two elevators; 15 bedrooms; 14 bathrooms; a two-story, 1,600-square-foot library and two-story, 1,970-square-foot great hall.
The master bedroom is 1,275 square feet.
Perhaps the only unsurprising parts of the massive project are the rumors.
“It’s all concrete, and I’ve heard it’ll have bulletproof glass and a concrete roof,” said Steve Johnson, neighbor to the Woods Fork Road property. “My wife was told it’s supposed to be a corporate retreat.”
At least one part of that is known to be true.
“The walls are all concrete,” said Sheriff Joey Kyle. “It’s large enough to fit two or three homes inside it.”
After hearing about the project, Kyle drove to the site to introduce himself and see it first hand.
The building permit application lists the cost of materials at nearly $6.9 million.
Johnson, who lives just yards from the gated and locked entrance, used to expect little traffic along the secluded road. Now, “hundreds” of construction trucks are the norm.
“One right after another,” Johnson said. “It’s been like that for over a year now. From what I’ve seen and heard, this place is unbelievable.”
So just who will live there? That’s hard to say with certainty.
Records show the building is owned by the Steven T. Huff Family, LLC, but exactly who Steven T. Huff is, is largely unknown. His brother, Joe Huff, Ozark, verified the ownership of the property but was reluctant to disclose any more information.
“The technology involved with the construction is proprietary in nature,” Joe Huff said. “it’s not information we are prepared to talk about right now.”
Joe Huff also verified that the structure is being built as a personal residence and identified himself as the “project manager.” However, available information online and in public records indicate Steven Huff is involved in technological engineering.
The property’s deed says the Steven T. Huff Family, LCC is located in Leesburg, Va. Available online records of political campaign contributions show a Steven T. Huff of Leesburg to be an engineer and chief technology officer of Overwatch Systems, Ltd. According to the Overwatch website, the company “delivers multi-source intelligence (multi-INT), geospatial analysis and custom intelligence solutions to the Department of Defense, national agencies and civilian organizations. ... More than 25,000 analysts in the U.S. Department of Defense and the larger intelligence community utilize Overwatch solutions.”
A company overview of Overwatch on the Bloomberg Businessweek website says Overwatch was formerly known as Sensor Systems.
Overwatch also owns the Medical Numerics company, which, according to its website, “enjoys powerful collaborations with the world’s leading medical imaging research organizations, including The United States National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, Yale University, UCLA School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, and Oxford University.”
The Medical Numerics website says Steven Huff founded Sensor Systems—now Overwatch—in 1993.
Whether the manor is soon to be inhabited by the Huff family or just owned by it, current P&Z restrictions guarantee only one family will live there. P&Z records from March of 2008 show the application was approved with the condition that “the structure can only be occupied by one family at a time.”
In a four-member family, that would equal 18,000 square feet per person.
Additional sources: U.S. News & World Report, www.whitehousehistory.org.