Garriott’s House: Moon Rocks, Shrunken Heads and Vampire Kits

Millionaut Richard Garriott aboard the International Space Station with five other lesser known professional space travelers.
Millionaut Richard Garriott (lower left) aboard the International Space Station - presumably without any shrunken heads or vampire medical kits.

Ever wondered how your average millionaire-software-developer-turned-space-tourist lives? Pretty well, it turns out. Steven Andrew has the answer. The Examiner writer visited Richard Garriott at his estate near Austin, TX.

Inside the house is stuffed with enough priceless art, rare curious, exquisite sculpture, and historical documents to make the curator of a world class museum faint with excitement and enough science and fantasy exhibits to leave this space-race science geek breathless. We strolled past the art of the ages, rooms full of automata — the video games, magic props, and intricate mechanical devices made by master craftsmans and watchmakers popular in the parlors of kings and tzars before the age of electricity.

Chief among these prized items are an original Sputnik satellite from the early days of the space-race, the physical, hand written specs and notes of space science pioneer Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky, and a display of specimens from other worlds and the machines that have visited them. I held dust from the Sea on Tranquility, played with an actual chunk of the peculiar substance develop for NASA’s Stardust Comet Sample Return Mission that has been accurately described as frozen smoke, and hefted a piece of the planet Mars in my hand (Shown right in Mr. Garriott’s left hand, his right hand holds two lunar rocks), feeling it’s weight and texture against my palm. I have to tell you, the latter almost brought to me tears. I had no idea it would hit me like that.

The house is laced with steep spiral staircases and secret passage ways which can be accessed by a clever array of old fashioned gizmos and high tech methods. One of those passages led down, into a series of small paneled chambers with a delightfully creepy feel full of ancient and not so ancient bones. Here there be dinosaurs, human skeletons, medieval swords and suits of armor, authentic shrunken heads, and real live emergency Victorian Age vampire killing kits; one shown right complete with holy water, bottled extract of garlic, and a pointy wooden stake ready to be driven into the heart of the undead.

And that’s not even the half of it. Read the full story.