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Apanagar via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kentucky’s $30 Million Castle

Apanagar via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Castle Post is a beautiful medieval-style stone castle completely enclosed by a stone wall with turrets on a 50-acre estate in Versailles. Versailles, Kentucky, that is, near Lexington. Begun as a labor of love, it’s now a bed and breakfast, and a lovely place to hold a wedding. But for decades it was a mysterious sight on the side of the road with no one at home.

Anthony via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

In the 1960s, Rex Martin and his wife Caroline Bogaert Martin traveled to Europe and were impressed by the many medieval castles they saw. How nice it would be to have one of their own! They bought 53 acres in Kentucky’s horse farm country and started construction in 1969. The building went slowly because the plans kept getting bigger, and the castle was still unfinished when the Martins divorced in 1975. Neither wanted to talk about the castle or the divorce, but the divorce papers mentioned “castle acreage” as part of their troubles. Much later, Caroline Martin reportedly said that she only wanted a house surrounded by stone walls, and originally they were looking for a small lot of just a couple of acres. But the project ballooned over time. “It just got larger and larger,” she said.

mr_t_77 via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

After the divorce, Rex Martin looked into turning the castle into a commercial property, such as a museum or an art gallery, but kept running into zoning ordinance problems. The residents in the area did not want to open their neighborhood up to commercial businesses, fearing high-rise construction and traffic congestion. Ultimately, he put a For Sale sign in front of the property and moved to Georgia. For decades, people called the number on the sign to inquire about the property with the still-unfinished castle, but Martin was not interested in returning calls.

Meanwhile, Martin Castle (sometimes called Castle Farm) became a landmark in Kentucky. People driving along Versailles Road (or Lexington Road, depending on which direction you went) were surprised by the sight of a stone castle with extensive walls and turrets along the side of the highway. But no one knew much about it. No one lived there, and no one answered the phone if you called the number on the sign. Martin Castle sat empty for more than 30 years.

Martin Castle before the 2004 fire.

Rex Martin never returned to the castle, and died in 2003. Miami lawyer and real estate investor Tom Post, who grew up in Lexington, saw the For Sale sign in 2000, and spent months tracking down the owners. He bought the property for $1.8 million from Martin’s heirs in 2003. He began renovations immediately, but an electrical fire in May 2004 destroyed much of the improvements and Post had to start over. He gave up his original plans to use the castle as a vacation home decided to make it a luxury bed and breakfast. By 2008, he had finished building a 50-room castle inside the walls.

Sarah Altendorf via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The hotel is now named Castle Post, which offers 10 luxury rooms and suites, and is available for weddings and special occasions. Rooms were as high as $3000 a night when Castle Post first opened, but business picked up considerably when rates were lowered to less than half the amount. Weekday rates are as low as $195 a night. There are four rooms on the second floor of the castle wall’s turrets, for extra privacy.

Navin Rajagopalan via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Castle Post was listed for sale in 2010 for $30 million, but there were no buyers. The castle was put up for sale again in May 2014 but was removed in September of that year. However, enough publicity was generated so that anyone with $30 million who wants a castle in Kentucky will be steered in the right direction. 

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
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This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]

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