Castle Inn Riverside goes on the auction block

11/12/2012 6:49 AM

11/12/2012 9:25 AM

The Castle Inn Riverside is up for sale and soon to be auctioned to the highest bidder on Dec. 18.

The last night bed and breakfast guests can officially stay in the castle is Dec. 31 – New Year’s Eve.

After 18 years, owners Paula and Terry Lowry are selling the 124-year-old castle to pursue their own retirement. Both are 65.

“We’ve been thinking about selling the last few years,” Terry Lowry said Sunday.

An advertisement by J.P. King – one of the largest real estate auction companies in the nation — was in Sunday’s Wichita Eagle classified section.

“A timeless estate on the banks of the Little Arkansas River,” the advertisement stated. “The Riverside Mansion is a 28-room residence with a commanding and elegant presence.”

The castle is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It is one of the most unique properties we have had in quite awhile,” said Caley Newberry, communications manager for J.P. King Auction Company in a telephone interview on Sunday. “It has beautiful details and lots of space. It has been very well taken care of. The Lowrys have made sure it is the best shape. I think it will generate a good bid interest.”

Only two other castles in the United States have offered people to stay in their luxury European-castle like settings, Lowry said Sunday. They include the Castle Marne in downtown Denver and the Castle on the Hudson in Tarrytown, N.Y.

The Wichita castle is zoned R-2 which besides residential would allow for different types of commercial ventures such as office or museum spaces.

Before any sale is completed, the Lowrys will have final approval of the highest bid price, Newberry said.

Built in 1888 by cattleman Burton Campbell, the stone mansion has through the years been nicknamed the “Jewel on the River.” It was designed in the classic feudal architectural style of castles in England and Scotland.

At the time it was built, Campbell was one of Wichita’s wealthiest residents, and he spared no expense in building the $90,000 castle.

The stately castle has a three-story stone tower with carved gargoyles and a two-story, 2,000-square-foot carriage house. The castle and carriage house both have slate roofs. The tower affords a striking view of the Little Arkansas River and the Wichita skyline.

The castle includes nine fireplaces; woodwork of walnut, mahogany and cherry and white oak floors. The original hardware was purchased from a New York factory. Lamps and light fixtures were imported from Europe.

The Lowry’s are only the castle’s fourth owners. Realtor Walter Morris bought the castle in 1910 for $25,000. Maye Crumm became the owner in 1960 when she bought it for $45,000.

Before the Lowrys purchased the castle in 1994, the castle had been the subject of some controversial stories as Crumm alternated between selling it, suing the city and demolishing it. Shortly before the Lowrys purchased it, there was a grass-roots effort by area preservationists to buy the castle and turn it into a museum.

The Lowrys purchased the castle for $300,000 and did more than $3 million in renovations. It was in a “state of disrepair,” according to a news release, and the Lowrys rebuilt the carriage house and reinforced the structural work in the main building.

“I love this building,” Terry Lowry said Sunday. “There will be some tears shed when we let go. But this is a new chapter in our lives. We have had thousands of wonderful guests through the years and I expect we will be pretty busy in the next six weeks as we decorate for Christmas. I hope whoever buys it will revere it as much as Paula and I have.”

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