Confessions in Stone
November 17, 2005 1:46 AM   Subscribe

American Castles. There are a few famous American castles: Bishop Castle (discussed previously here), Coral Castle, and Boldt Castle come to mind. However, this site lists them all; from the impressive to the mundane. If you're interested, you may be able to buy your own.
posted by ND¢ (44 comments total)
In "Confessions in Stone", from Stranger Than Fiction : True Stories by Chuck Palahniuk, the author delves into the motives of modern American castle builders. "I’m a pretty good sipper," one says. "I’m drinking some Black Velvet one night, and I called a friend on the city council, and I said, ‘I’m going to build a castle.’ And he said, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I am.’ And the next morning I wake up and thought … ‘I told him I was going to build a castle, so here I go."
posted by ND¢ at 1:47 AM on November 17, 2005

Cheesy battlements do not a castle make.
posted by uncle harold at 2:08 AM on November 17, 2005

And the yanks say *we're* quaint! Cute. I especially like the ones which are just houses (and bad ones at that), or made of lego. What do you mean that's almost all of them?
posted by nthdegx at 2:10 AM on November 17, 2005

Re your Bannermans castle link: " It remains one of a very small number of structures in the United States which can properly be called a castle." That's a bit better, and at least it has served a defensive purpose at some stage, sort of.
posted by nthdegx at 2:13 AM on November 17, 2005

We yanks have always been better at offense than we have defense.

The really great 'castles' on the dupontcastle site are less real castles, than someone's crazy idea of what a castle should be. Half illustration from a "Sleeping Beauty" children's book, half just pulled out of their asses. That is what I like about them.
posted by ND¢ at 2:23 AM on November 17, 2005

Holy freakin' crap... I was about to make my very first FPP this morning and the subject was going to be castles. I can't believe you beat me to it.

Oh well, here are a couple more castl-ey links I've recently come across:

Castles on the Web
(and their extensive discussion forums.)

Castle Magic has a pretty ugly web site, but that's probably because they're busy travelling all over the USA building real live castles. Check out the castle plans and Q&A pages (in the frames, sorry.) They are going to be featured on The History Channel's Big Build Show on Monday, Nov. 21 building a 24 foot high medieval tower in 2 weeks. The tower is only a small part of a much larger build they've been working on for almost two years now in Idaho.
posted by evoo at 3:07 AM on November 17, 2005

Sorry evoo. I am sure that it would have been a very good FPP. Those are interesting links.
posted by ND¢ at 3:11 AM on November 17, 2005

My wedding reception was held in a castle a little while back. I thought it would be hokey, but it turned out to be pretty cool.
posted by moonbiter at 3:46 AM on November 17, 2005

This castle was built by my good friend's Dad, and sits across the street from Vilano Beach in Northeast Florida. I've been in it many times; it's a truly amazing structure, and the pictures can't possibly do it justice. Its sense of weight and solidity is awesome, especially in an area where nearly everything is built of 2x4s and pink stucco. When the dead walk the earth, you can bet you'll find me holed up there.
posted by saladin at 4:39 AM on November 17, 2005

A castle finished in 1988 isn't really a castle is it?

None of these buildings are really castles. A few of them are nice houses, some of them nice enough follys built as millionaire playthings, but most are vile amusement park quality buildings that look like something you see Gene Simmons or some WWF Wrestler living in on Cribs.

How can the same word be used to describe this and this?? There is no comparison, the history is the relevant part, not the wrought iron hinges and turrets.
posted by fire&wings at 5:03 AM on November 17, 2005

Oh those americans!. There is nothing romantic about castles. They are the most concrete symbols of power and tyranny to come out of earlier times. I snort derisively with my european nose at anyone who thinks to build something similar with fondness and longing.
posted by Catfry at 6:05 AM on November 17, 2005

In southwestern Ohio, not far from Cincinnati, there is Loveland Castle, also known as Chataeu LaRoche because it is based on one in France.

It was built by one man, Harry Andrews, over a period of 50 years on the banks of the Little Miami River. All the rocks were obtained from the river.

Harry was a teacher/boy scout leader with a reported genius IQ and the castle site was originally a campsite for his troup.

I visited the castle many times during the 70's and 80's when Harry was still living. He was a fascinating man with a love of history and he loved to talk to visitors. The castle is now maintained by former members of his troup who call themselves The Knights of the Golden Trail.
posted by The Mermaid at 6:22 AM on November 17, 2005

The Pemberton Castle in Austin was recently for sale. It's not on the scale of some of the castles listed here, but it has an interesting history: the tower was originally a water tower. I'm sad I don't have a spare million or two to buy it.
posted by tippiedog at 6:38 AM on November 17, 2005

Looks like the Pemberton Castle is still on the market. Here's the link for Pemberton Castle. Only $1.9MM, or, as the page advises, only $10,052 Per Month (before taxes and insurance)
posted by tippiedog at 6:43 AM on November 17, 2005

Give me ten sturdy Normans, a battering-ram, a couple of longbowmen and the Papal battle-standard, and I'll show you how good any of those 'castles' actually are.
posted by Hogshead at 6:43 AM on November 17, 2005

Seton Castle in Santa Fe just burned down.
posted by hyperizer at 7:05 AM on November 17, 2005

There's a partly-finished faux chateau south of Denton here in D/FW. Who'd-a-thunkit.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:11 AM on November 17, 2005

"There is nothing romantic about castles"

Hate your past, everyone.
posted by nthdegx at 7:29 AM on November 17, 2005

I'll agree, most American "castles" are just ugly hodgepodges of architectual designs smashed together to the delight of some fool with a lot of money. There are also some beautiful great manor houses, like Biltmore, which are up there with some of the best of Europe.
posted by Atreides at 7:30 AM on November 17, 2005

My favorites castles are the ones smashed together to the delight of some fool with very little money, all of which he throws into building a ridiculous castle. Most of my favorite things are smashed together to the delight of some fool.

Speaking of romanticizing the idea of castles, I hate to reference the same author (who I'm not even that big a fan of) twice in one thread, but here are the aforementioned Mr. Palahniuk's thoughts (somewhat) on the subject: "A Castle to Live In"
posted by ND¢ at 7:42 AM on November 17, 2005

nthdegx, I actually think there are many good reasons for europeans to hate their past (I won't elaborate), but I don't think it is a good idea to be overly pre-occupied with it. The problem, as i'm sure you are aware is that for many (most) people the history of our ancestors or 'tribe' as such, is a very big part of what makes us, us, making it hard to ignore.
posted by Catfry at 7:46 AM on November 17, 2005

Thanks for the fun and interesting links NDcent. Always been amused by the Coral Castle story, a delightful mix of engineering and mystery.
posted by nickyskye at 8:00 AM on November 17, 2005

Even Reading, Pa, has a castle.
posted by jrossi4r at 8:12 AM on November 17, 2005

I think I'm withdrawing my 1st comment. I don't have a beef with the people who build castles, I just don't like it much when I see a different 'idea' of castles as the one I have myself.
posted by Catfry at 8:17 AM on November 17, 2005

It's missing the castle in or around Damascus, PA. I don't remember enough from my childhood to know where exactly it is or what it's called. Long shot, but any MeFites know about that castle?
posted by Eideteker at 8:24 AM on November 17, 2005

And by the way I'm also withdrawing part of my 2nd comment as I don't REALLY think europeans should hate our past. History is what it is, nothing to do about it. Having feelings about something you have no influence over or can never change is of no use.
MY idea of a castle is still not anywhere near romantic, but that has everything to do with their historic use, and nothing to do with their appearance or other factors having contributed to the image many seem to have of them.
posted by Catfry at 8:35 AM on November 17, 2005

I spent a night in Manresa Castle once. No ghosts but there was a hot tub.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:49 AM on November 17, 2005

Catfry, it takes a big person to be able to respect that people have a different 'idea' of something than you, and not be so bound by your idea of it that you insist on trying to convince them that your idea of a thing is right and their's is wrong. I realize that one's 'idea' of what a castle means is not that important, but I still think you should be commended on being able to see them from a different perspective.

I think that castles in America do mean something totally different from those in the rest of the world, because they were never used for any real purpose here. Therefore, we see a castle as something totally impractical. That is what I like about things like the Coral Castle and Loveland Castle (see links above) they are normal people looking at the world and saying, "I think that this would be a better place with 'x' in it". Then they proceed to make that vision a reality, often despite financial ruin and being labeled as crazy.

The desire to build a castle, for an American, is essentially the same as the desire to make any other art, but in a massive, bold, and not at all recognized as 'art' way. That is what I like about it. I think the fact that many castles in the rest of the world were built for practical reasons makes them wholly different (not better or worse) creatures. I also think that I just went on way too long, and way too pseudo-deeply about frickin' castles, but what are you gonna do?
posted by ND¢ at 8:56 AM on November 17, 2005

I'm glad ND¢. I also appreciate you taking your time to try to explain the fascination that the web sites represent.
posted by Catfry at 9:06 AM on November 17, 2005

Even Pflugerville, Texas, has a castle. Ha!
posted by tippiedog at 9:14 AM on November 17, 2005

The guy who built Bishop's castle was a metal worker in Pueblo, where I grew up. I remember being in awe seeing the place when I was a kid... though the guy who built it is a little "out there". In the 90s I think he would allow raves to be held on the property, unfortunately I never had a chance to attend them.
posted by karson at 9:16 AM on November 17, 2005

My favorite since I can see it across the way when it is clear. My hill is on the same level as the castle. If I drive there it takes about 15 minutes.
posted by bjgeiger at 9:17 AM on November 17, 2005

(also, it's the second time on mefi that someone has commended me on 'changing course' very rapidly, and I se the reason, but would also like to say that I personally would be very irritated with people doing it as frequently as I do, and I think that the only reason people actually are pleased with it is that it in general happens so rarely here. Ah well, thanks anyway ND¢). /derail
posted by Catfry at 9:18 AM on November 17, 2005

What a nice conversation between Catfry and ND¢. Thank you both for your mutual kindness, introspection, well wishing and honesty, made my day.
posted by nickyskye at 10:15 AM on November 17, 2005

I agree with you about European history, but it takes some special kind of cynicism to get political in a post about castles, be it interesting American interpretations, or the wonderful real things. Something can have a bloody history and still be wonderful. At least, it can in a pluralist society.
posted by nthdegx at 10:17 AM on November 17, 2005

I don't know if you think that I was getting political, but I would never agrue that European castles weren't wonderful. The Burg Eltz in Moselkern, Germany is particularly breath-taking.

For non-European castles, there are few structures on earth as beautiful as Osaka Castle.

I just admire the fact that American castles (or the American interpretations of castles, if you prefer) seem so nonsensical and eccentric. The fact that they are completely purposeless adds to their appeal for me.
posted by ND¢ at 10:36 AM on November 17, 2005

I would both never agrue or argue that point.
posted by ND¢ at 10:41 AM on November 17, 2005

That last comment of mine was for Catfry, really.
posted by nthdegx at 11:40 AM on November 17, 2005

This one is for sale.
posted by swift at 12:05 PM on November 17, 2005

Of course there are these most American of Castles (Cinderella's and Sleeping Beauty's, respectively). There's even one in Paris.
posted by kosem at 12:47 PM on November 17, 2005

nthdegx, It wasn't my intent to talk politics, and you can call me cynical if you like. I like the rest of what you say.
I actually really like castles and keeps and grand old buildings, and am fortunate to live in a country that is absolutely stoked with them.

There's something about the appearance of these buildings. They are built to last, built to withstand. Built so that if the inhabitants wouldn't want anything to do with the outside world, they could make it so. It is the ultimate dwelling to reaffirm ones independence.
Also the words from Palahniuk sound very true. Castles are reference points. They are anchors in the landscape. There's something very lasting about a stone fortress, no matter if it is just a ruin. sitting on top of a cliff, in a bend in the river, or anywhere prominent in the landscape offering a stategic advantage.

I guess this is some of the attributes that makes the building type so interesting to many, and probably some of the associations that people want to achieve when they try to build modern castlelike buildings.
And that is completely alright with me.
posted by Catfry at 1:01 PM on November 17, 2005

I was just at this one for a weekend, to me it's the epitome of American hubris from the size, length of construction (1919-1947 and left half finished, according to the owner's own words) and location (halfway to nowhere and even more so when construction began). Okay, we didn't sleep there since no is allowed to for 50 years but we stayed nearby and really enjoyed the tour.
posted by billsaysthis at 4:58 PM on November 17, 2005

billsaysthis: There is nothing particularly American about the hubris of building pointless things. History is rife with pointless structures built for hubris-like reasons.

I'm not saying many Americans don't have their fair share of overweening pride and hubris (insert self-congraulatory comparison to Pax Romana here). I'm just saying that it's not uniquely American.
posted by moonbiter at 1:08 AM on November 18, 2005

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