Thursday, February 3, 2011

Do You Want Your Own Castle?

(Photo by Donnie Shackleford)

As you turn left coming out of Blue Grass Airport, in Lexington, KY, and then left again onto US60, also called the Versailles Road, you drive in front of Keaneland, one of two of Kentucky’s famous race courses, (the other being Churchill Downs in Louisville where they run the well-known Kentucky Derby.) Continuing along the US60 leaving Fayette County and entering Woodford county you suddenly come upon an unusually site. A castle where you least expect it.

In the United States there are many castles, all of them, no doubt, inspired by and copied from European castles, but nevertheless castles of some sort. The website, Castles of the United States, list more than 300 “castles”. Of course most of them are nothing more than fancy residential houses.

It was rumored that Lexington’s Martin Castle even caught the attention of Queen Elizabeth and her entourage on her last visit to Lexington a few years ago and that her secretary made a rather unflattering remark by calling it "an Americanized Mickey Mouse castle." He is probably not too far off the mark.

Nevertheless, Martin Castle, for many years fondly known as “Woodford Castle” may not have the rich history of intrigue or scandal as say Hampton Court Castle in England or Versailles outside Paris, France, but it does have a history. A rather mysterious history. (Interestingly in Kentucky there is a town called Versailles, just 10 minutes drive from the castle and there is also a town called Paris not too far away.)

After an extensive trip to the Continent, visiting many castles, especially German castles, Rex Martin, a wealthy land developer in Lexington, KY, in 1968 bought about 50 acres along US60 to build a castle for his wife Caroline. The next year he dug foundations and started to build his castle, but by the mid 70’s it was still not completed. At this stage Martin and his wife divorced and for the next 30 years or more nothing happened. The half built shell just sat there. It seemed that just like old European castles this one would also take decades if not lifetimes to be completed. Whether he ran out of money or the split from his wife stopped any further progress in the building is unknown. In the meantime the wooded gates with gold-foiled lion heads kept visitors at bay and it created many country rumors and legends about the place. But no one really knew what was to happen with the property.

Martin Castle on fire in May 2004 (Photos by Robert Taylor) 

At several times during the three decades the place was up for sale but no one purchased it until after Mr. Martin’s death, when a lawyer from Florida, Thomas R. Post bought it in 2003 for $1.8 million. Mr. Post immediately started to rebuild the inside of the castle, but as the work neared completion in May 2004 it burned down. Arson was suspected but no one was ever charged. Post then spent millions of Dollars more and many years to rebuild and enlarge the original castle with the aim to turn it into an upscale, unique bed and breakfast inn. This was completed in 2009 and the castle, now known as The CastlePost has 50 rooms including a library, sitting room, game room and a dining room for 40 guests. Outdoors there is a 20-by-50 foot pool, tennis courts, formal garden and a large Chinese dragon fountain spouting water.

The castle after the fire.

But in November 2010 it was reported that if owner Thomas Post can get the right price, the castle will be sold again. The asking price is $30 million, negotiable.

So if you are in the market for your own castle and you want to relocate to the rolling hills and green pastures of Kentucky, make your offer. It comes with its own mysterious history. No ghosts though.

After restoration it is called The CastlePost.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ek gaan met my bank gesels! :)