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Wichita couple searches for castle’s next owner

Historic Campbell Castle for sale for $3.5 million

The historic Campbell Castle, also known as the Castle Inn Riverside, is back on the market again after failing to sell during previous listings. (Nov. 1, 2016)
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The historic Campbell Castle, also known as the Castle Inn Riverside, is back on the market again after failing to sell during previous listings. (Nov. 1, 2016)

One of Wichita’s most historic properties – the Castle Inn Riverside, also known as Campbell Castle – is up for sale.

Again.

For only $3.5 million.

Too pricey? Not for a historic cattle baron’s castle that fronts the Little Arkansas River and offers panoramic bird’s-eye views of the city from its rooftop.

And it has 17 bedrooms, 19 bathrooms and 19 fireplaces.

Current owners Paula and Terry Lowry are busy this week with last-minute details to ready the 128-year-old castle at 1155 N. River Blvd. for listing with J.P. Weigand & Sons Real Estate and with Hoffman International Properties in Dallas.

Plans are to open the castle at dusk on Nov. 26 for tours, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. If there is enough interest, the castle might be opened for additional tours through the Christmas season.

“You could not replace that building, could not even come close to rebuilding that property at that ($3.5 million) price,” said Debbie Rich, listing agent for J.P. Weigand.

“The value is there. We just have to find the right buyer.”

The castle was built in the Romanesque style, which was popular in the late 19th century and was used with churches, courthouses, libraries and schools and some houses. Characteristics are rough-cut stone, decorative brickwork, arched openings and cylindrical towers with conical roofs.

“To me, the best selling point is that it is a landmark for Wichita,” Rich said. “There is nothing else like it for counties around.

“It is such a unique property that could offer so many different opportunities.”

It could make a great attorney’s office because it is close to the Sedgwick County Courthouse, Rich said.

Or a boutique hotel. Perhaps a restaurant.

“You look at the buildings in downtown that are being worked on, and they don’t have half the character that this does on the inside,” she said.

Highlights, history

The story of the Castle Inn Riverside began in 1886 when cattle baron Col. Burton Harvey Campbell began the construction of an outrageously expensive $90,000 castle, which would be about $2.1 million in today’s money.

But his was not the only castle in Riverside.

In 1887, James Oakley Davidson built a mansion for his bride. His pink sandstone structure at Riverside and Buffum, near the Arkansas River, was an eye popper, featuring 13-inch-thick walls, arches of massive stone, a copper canopy, gables and polished granite columns.

Inside, huge oak stairs led to rooms finished in oak and featuring fireplaces and painted glass.

The Davidsons sold their house in 1908. One of the later owners was G.W. Kirby, and the house became known as the Kirby Castle. It was razed in the 1960s and replaced by apartments.

The Castle Inn Riverside is the lone surviving castle.

Campbell designed his castle in the classic feudal style from Scotland. It boasts architectural details salvaged from around the world. The foyer contains a 650-year-old Grecian fireplace, Spanish chevalier lamps on the staircase and newel posts and pieces of fretwork that were reportedly carved by a prisoner in an Irish debtors prison.

Above the east entrance to the castle, carved in stone, is the word “Salve” – Latin for “Welcome.”

In the foyer, the main staircase was imported from London and is reported to be 250 years old.

One unique feature of the castle is the three-story stone tower with carved gargoyles.

The castle includes nine original fireplaces. The woodwork on the floors, baseboards, library cabinets, paneling and crown molding is of walnut, mahogany, cherry and white oak. The original hardware was purchased from a New York factory. Lamps and light fixtures were imported from Europe.

When the Lowrys renovated the castle in 1994, they turned the second and third floors into an 11-room bed-and-breakfast inn with a fireplace and a bathroom in almost every room. The castle’s carriage house has three more guest rooms and an exercise area.

The castle and its carriage house have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973.

The Wichita castle is zoned R-2, which allows residential and some commercial use.

This is not the first time the Lowrys have listed the castle for sale. In 2012, it was listed in a live auction that lasted more than 90 minutes. Although several bidders expressed interest in the property, none of the bids were accepted by the Lowrys.

The Lowrys are 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.

“It is very important not only to Paula and me but to the residents of Wichita,” Terry Lowry said. “It is an important part of Wichita history.”

Recently, the Lowrys celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Both are in their late 60s.

“We need somebody with the energy we had 25 years ago to come in here and turn it over to them,” Terry Lowry said. “It has been a lot of work. We will be very sad to leave it.”

Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336, @beccytanner

Tour of Castle Inn Riverside

Currently, the Campbell Castle at 1155 N. River Blvd. is being decorated with Christmas lights in order to have an open house tour at dusk on Nov. 26.

Tickets are $10 each and include hot chocolate and cookies. Tickets will go on sale at eventbrite.com website within the next week.

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