Chip and Joanna Gaines of “Fixer Upper” TV fame have put their celebrated Texas castle up for sale in Waco.
The auction bidding for Cottonland Castle, sometimes called the Waco Castle, will open at 4 p.m., July 20.
Stone replicas of European castles are scattered all over the state — at least five can be found in Austin — but this one is dusted with the enchantment of that celebrity couple who is transforming Waco into a national tourist spot.
If you can’t afford to bid on Cottonland Castle, plenty of castle-like structures around Texas are worth lingering views from the curb. Some are open for tours or can be leased for special events. (More on those options below.)
What’s for sale in Waco?
Many of Gaineses’ early fixer-up projects were fairly modest redos. As time went by, however, the couple took on larger enterprises, such as their downtown Waco lifestyle center known as Magnolia Market.
According to Magnolia Realty, this mansion at 3300 Austin Ave. in the Castle Heights neighborhood includes four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms as part of more than 6,000 square feet of floor space.
Its history is quite complicated. For one thing, it didn’t start as a castle.
During the cotton boom of the late 19th century, Waco was a center for all aspects of the cotton business. Significant buildings shot up all over the city.
In 1890, stone contractor John Tennant started to craft a new home out of leftover stone from a downtown project. He sold the unfinished house to cotton broker Ripley Hanrick in 1906, but continued to work on it himself. Together, they abandoned the mansion in 1908.
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Civil War veteran Capt. Alfred Abeel purchased it in 1913 and hired developer Roy E. Lane to finish the frame and add more castle-like elements, modeled after a small German castle on the Rhine.
“In 1941, Irene Pipkin, whose family owned the Pipkin Drugstores, purchased the home and moved in with her daughter and son-in-law,” writes Amanda Sawyer on the wacohistory.org website. “When she passed away, the castle passed to her daughter, Pauline Pipkin Garrett, Waco’s first female pharmacist. Pauline and her husband Barney Garrett resided in the home for many years.”
Cottonland next passed through the hands of the Austin Avenue Methodist Church, which used it as a youth center, the Jack Schwan family and others. Yet almost every owner found it too costly to maintain.
Chip and Joanna Gaines purchased it in 2019 and completed the remake in 2022.
They aired the renovation process on Magnolia Network last year, then opened the place up for tours. “Now, they’re ready for someone new to write the next chapter in this historic home’s story,” according to the Magnolia Reality site.
Five castles in Austin
Kids dream of living in castles. When they grow up, they discover that the original medieval fortresses were often dark, dank, drafty and hard to keep up. Castles in Texas, built more recently, tend to comport with modern standards of comfort, health and upkeep, which is not cheap.
If you are new to Austin, you might not already know these landmarks:
Bouldin Castle (715 W. Mary St.): Built of limestone, this castle began as San Jose Catholic Church, then served as an Orthodox church before being outfitted with a turret, moat (actually a lap pool), dungeon (really an underground studio) and banquet hall. I’ve been to some parties here and the interiors are quite lovely.
Castle Hill (1111 W. 11th St.): Perhaps Austin’s most visible castle, this former military academy perched high on a hill above Shoal Creek has served many roles, now the offices of Castle Hill Partners, a private investment firm. The Austin History Center Association held a reception there not long ago and I can confirm that it has been decorated expertly and sensitively.
Chateau Bellevue (708 San Antonio St): Like the Cottonland Castle, this 1874 landmark mansion was not originally built in a castle style. Most of that look was added by a later owner. For almost a century, it has been home to the Austin Woman’s Club. For a while, it was also a dormitory. I’ve attended many events here and always jump at the chance to return.
Formosa (304 E 44th St.): Although small compared to other Austin castles, this studio for sculptor Elisabet Ney must have towered over the raw land north of Hyde Park when it was built in 1892. Now the Elisabet Ney Museum — packed with Ney’s art — it by far is the easiest of these Austin castles to access.
Pemberton Castle (1415 Wooldridge Dr.) A Dallas class recently wrote a full report on Samuel Edward Gideon and his fantastical private home that began in the 1890s as a farm cistern, turned into a sales office for the Pemberton neighborhood in the 1920s, then was transformed into a castle by UT architecture professor Gideon during the 1930s and ’40s.
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Five castles elsewhere in Texas
Some Texas castles are located on private land far away from preying eyes. I picked five that normally can be reached easily by the public. (Falkenstein Castle is temporarily closed.)
Bishop’s Palace (1402 Broadway, Galveston): At 19,082 square feet, this definitely is a palace. Built between 1887 and 1893 for the Gresham family, the mansion survived the 1900 hurricane. The Catholic Diocese of Galveston purchased it in 1923 as a residence for the bishop. Tours of the museum go back to 1963, which is around the time I first gawked at its Victorian interiors. The Galveston Historical Foundation now gives self-guided tours daily.
Castle Avalon (10900 Texas 46, New Braunfels): Used as an events center, especially for weddings, this castle is named for an island from the King Arthur myths. I’ve never been there, but it looks pretty romantic in images.
Falkenstein Castle (7400 Park Road 4 South, Burnet) Currently not open for public tours or drive-up traffic, this is one of several extravagant Hill Country castles. It was modeled after drawings by scene designer Christian Jank for Ludwig II, who also commissioned the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
Lambermont Estate (950 E. Grayson St, San Antonio) Yet another events venue, this castle was built in 1894 as the residence of Edwin Holland Terrell and his family. Terrell had served as American ambassador to Belgium during the 1890s and he commissioned architect Alfred Giles — who added the castle elements to Chateau Bellevue in Austin — to design his home in the Belgian mode.
Newman’s Castle (Off Old Highway 36) Mike Newman dreamt up this castle and bakery near Bellville. The castle handles parties, weddings, wine tastings and other special occasions. It is open for tours six days a week with advance reservations.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Chip, Joanna Gaines’ castle project in Waco one of many Texas castles