ADAMS CASTLE

Adams Castle is a 32-room mansion styled like a French castle. It was constructed in 1928-29 by real estate tycoon Harry Stormfeltz at a cost estimated to be over $1 million. The property is surrounded by an iron fence.

I received E-Mail that said:

We live in Michigan and have driven by Adams Castle. It is between 15 and 16 Mile Road. And it is on Adams Castle Road on A cul-de-sac. I believe it is off Crooks Road. I have learned from a college class long ago, that it was moved from England slowly. It is huge with a gated drive way.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

The castle is located in Birmingham, MI. it was brought piece by piece over here on a boat. it is located off crooks road betwwen 15 and 16 mile roads. it sits at the end of adams castle court. there is a newspaper article that i have been looking for that gives every detail on the castle and how it came to be. if i find it i will let you know so you can update your site. you may also want to put on your site that if anyone gets a chance around christmas time to drive by it. it is always lit up with really pretty christmas lights.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I enjoyed your brief article on Adams Castle in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I grew up in the house next door and can inform you that your two rumours are all wrong.

The house was built by an up-scale real estate developer named Harry Stormfeltz in the late 1920s. The architect was Richard Marr, and well-known upscale home architect in the Midwest in the early 20th century. He also designed many of the spectacular homes for the Fisher Brothers (the automotive Fisher Brothers). The home itself is designed in the French Norman Tudor Style. Originally the house was a country home, with its property extending for over 10 acres. The other homes in the area also had similar acreages.

Sad to say, the fields and meadows are now gone. With the expansion of Detroit's suburbs and accompanying escalation of land prices, the property of Adams Castle is now probably only two to three acres.

The house was not transported, bit by bit, brick by brick, stone by stone, over from England. Frankly I cannot recall any of the Castle's features being imported from France and England, like what was done for the Ford House in Grosse Pointe. Though this is a nice story. Arguably, the most appealing rooms of the Castle are the domed stairwell in the castle's main turret and an intricate Chinese room that served as a guest bedroom.

Mr. Stormfeltz soon went broke after completing the castle. Like Gatsby, he made pots and pots of money quickly during the 1920s by building high-class homes that populate the upscale Detroit suburbs of Birmingham and Grosse Pointe. However, risk can cut both ways - he built homes on speculation, and had to much inventory when the depression hit in 1929.

Still its a nice house and the current owners maintain the castle quite well.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

Like some of the others who commented on this castle, I grew up near by. I believe you have the location slightly off. The castle is on Adams Castle Ct., off of Adams Road between 16 mile (Big Beaver) and 17 mile (Wattles).

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I also grew up about four houses away from the back side of Adams Castle and the House has a Bloomfield Hills mailing address but is technically in the Charter Township of Bloomfield. It is not within the city limits of Bloomfield Hills albeit close by. It is on Adams Castle Dr. which is the second street north of 16 mile (Big Beaver) to the left if going north (heading west). You can see it from Adams Rd. if you look to the end of the street if driving by. The old driveway used to have access to Kensington Rd.

If you drive down Kensington north from Big Beaver and go down the hill you can see an old stone bridge in the woods to your right (during winter only) which was used to cross a branch of the Rouge River. Just before Iron Gate Rd. you can see the remnants of the old stone and iron gate that was used to access the driveway from Kensington. Iron Gate Rd. was named after the gate and that is the street I grew up on. If you visit the house don't try to get inside the iron fence as it had a laser security system around the perimeter of the property when I was young. I did set it off when I was a kid and the police were there immediately.

Later I received E-Mail that said:

ADAMS CASTLE IS ONE FAMILY'S CROWNING GLORY
DETROIT FREE PRESS
By LYNN MORRISON Free Press Special Writer
Date: Thursday, June 28, 1984
Page: 1B OAKLAND NORTH

Edition: METRO FINAL
Section: FTR

A man's home is his castle. This is especially true for Don Bortz and his family, who reside in the well-known Birmingham landmark called Adams Castle. "A friend of mine, Harry Stevens, used to own the place," says Bortz. "When I heard he was considering selling, I went right over to see him. "It was May 8, 1976. I remember that because the date was significant. I presented him with a contract of purchase, which he refused to sign. "He kept throwing the contract on the floor, and I kept putting it back on his desk. We spent nine hours negotiating and hammering out details before we got the job done. "Though I'd arrived at his house on Saturday afternoon, it was in the wee hours of Sunday morning when the deal was completed. I phoned my wife and said, 'Happy Mother's Day, Val. I just bought you a castle.' "

The mansion couldn't be in more caring hands. For the last eight years, the Bortzes have devoted themselves to the considerable task of refurbishing, restoring and furnishing their 32-room home, returning it to its original splendor.

THE CASTLE was the brainchild of wealthy real estate agent Harry Stormfeltz, who hired architect Richard Marr to "build the most impressive house in Oakland County."

Construction began in 1926, and the home on Adams Road was completed in 1929. Following instructions to spare no expense, Marr (often accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Stormfeltz) made several trips abroad and to New York importers, where he selected fireplaces and mantels, rare stained-glass and leaded- glass windows, lighting fixtures, curved oak gates, walnut doors, handmade tiles and Italian marbles.

Architectural plans were revised several times to accommodate treasures from Europe. Artisans and skilled craftsmen were commissioned to execute the sculptured plaster ceilings and cornices, murals, fountains and tile work. Finding qualified people to handle renovation and repairs has been a problem, says Val Bortz. "When we moved here, the fountain in the breakfast room was not working. We had four or five plumbers who attempted to fix it, without any luck. "Finally, we were able to locate the plumber who had originally installed it, and he corrected the problem. We were also fortunate to find an Italian artist . . . an old world craftsman, to execute a ceiling painting and restore the grotto with layers of gold, bronze and copper leafings."

THE CASTLE'S vast interior includes a solarium called the Marble Room in which the floors and walls are marble and the molded plaster ceiling is silver-leafed. Bortz's library is dominated by a large, antique, hand- carved oak mantelpiece. "In order to install it, we had to rip out the old fireplace and build a new one to the proper dimensions," Bortz said. Other unusual features include a poker room, a ballroom and a bar. In spite of its immensity, Bortz says that every inch of space is used by the family, which includes Bortz, his wife and twochildren."We have never closed off any portion of the house and keep it almost as active as when the bachelors were here." Bortz was referring to 13 young bachelors who leased the castle in 1947. They called the castle Meglo Manor and, with a staff of servants, lived a fast-paced, royal lifestyle of endless parties. Some moved and some married, but there was always a waiting list of eligible bachelors anxious to take their places. The bachelors were in residence for eight years.

STAFFING THE castle is a problem, says Val Bortz. "Obviously, this isn't the sort of house you can run by yourself. Finding and keeping good help isn't easy in today's world. "We had the same difficulty finding decorators who could deal with the improvements and furnishings we've added. Many of them simply didn't understand what we were trying to accomplish. "Fortunately, we've found a kindred soul with interior designer Wallace Newton. He knows that a house like this is a living entity, and he understands what goes into it."

Although it's a lot of work, maintaining and improving the house is a labor of love for the Bortzes. "We don't even go away for vacations," says Bortz. "When I have time off from work, I like to be right here. It's the best place in the world."

Security for the castle and 3.6 acres of grounds is provided, in part, by the two royal members of the household, Duke and Baron. The German shepherd and Doberman pinscher serve as guard dogs as well as pets. "We also have a sophisticated security system around the property," says Bortz. "It's the same as those used at federal penitentiaries. If the beams are disturbed, alarms start ringing everywhere." "What we can't stop," adds Val Bortz, "is the constant parade of gawkers and sightseers who gather outside the gates. Some of them come with tons of camera equipment, blocking the drive while they photograph."

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

Donald and Valeria Bortz wanted to let you know that they will be decorating the castle for the holidays again this year (2003). They expect the decorations to be up from December 4th through January 4th.


Most people only dream of building a castle.  If you want to make your building dreams a reality, you'll need careful planning and a budget.  Even building something as simple as a deck requires a shrewd attention to detail.  


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