MARTIN CASTLE


CASTLE POST


Martin Castle before the fire.

Martin Castle (now Castle Post) after being rebuilt.

I received E-Mail that said;

There is a Castle located in Kentucky. It is on Versailles Road between Lexington and Frankfort. It is a fabulous structure initiated by an individual who had a lot of money in the "coal boom" of the 1970's. Regrettfully, he ran out of money and did not complete the structure. It is currently for sale, I am told.

I received more E-Mail that said:

I have some info on the Kentucky "castle". It is excerpted from the book entitled "Kentucky - Off the Beaten Path - A Guide to Unique Places" by Zoe Strecker, First Edition, The Globe Pequot Press, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, page 4.

"Just west of Keeneland on Versailles Road is a castle surrounded by stone walls and mysterious rumors. According to the rumors a slew of celebrities have owned it, including Lee Majors. The truth is that the original owner and builder, Rex Martin, still owns the property but is looking to sell it. He and his ex-wife had the castle built to be a residence in 1969. Inside the turreted wall is a 10,400-square-foot, six-bedroom house complete with a huge library and swimming pool. Add chickens, goats, and peasants and you'd have a medieval village fort."

As a Lexington native, I can give a little more general information. It is actually located just across a neighboring county line called Woodford County (Lexington is in Fayette Co.). It is situated in beautiful horse-farm country not too far from the Lexington Bluegrass Airport and the Keeneland Racetrack. Rumor has it that it is on the market for approximately $3 million, but I do not know the name of the real estate agency with which it is listed. The Lexington Chamber of Commerce may have more info (not sure). It does look more like a fort, with the main residence surrounded by fort-like walls. It does not have an "old" look, being built less than 30 years ago. Hope this helps.

I received more E-Mail that said:

This castle was built 25 years ago by Lexington, Kentucky home builder, Rex Martin. He and his new bride honeymooned in Europe, where she fell in love with castles. Upon there return to Lexington he built her this replica of a castle, but they divorced before it's completion. No one has ever lived here - It's remained unsold and for sale - Price unknown.

I received E-Mail that said:

Hi Just an update. I looked into buying the Martin Castle and found it next to impossible to get any information on it. Apparently it has a for sale sign but he doesn't really want to sell it due to his broken heart. That is the response that I got from two real-estate people in the area.

Later, I received an E-Mail from Ray Stewart saying:

I noted that you need some additional information on the Castle in Versailles, Ky. So here it is.

VERSAILLES -- They say a man's home is his castle, but one feudal stronghold for sale in Central Kentucky has had trouble finding a permanent resident. Since it went on the market in November 1988, the property that's known as "the castle" on U.S. 60 between Lexington and Versailles has sat vacant, unfinished and unsold. A sign near the front gate still says "SALE APPOINTMENT ONLY," and gives a phone number to call.

But questions remain about how serious the castle's owner -- Rex Martin, a publicity-shy developer in his late 60s who now lives in Florida -- is about selling it. Potential buyers have had difficulty eliciting responses from him or his representatives. "You have to wonder why they keep the sign up there," said David Allen, a neighbor to the castle.

Today, the Woodford County property valuation administrator's office lists the fair cash value of the land and buildings at $800,000. They were assessed at $754,000 five years ago. The asking price for the property isn't known because Martin could not be reached for comment. Records at the property valuation administrator's office lists Martin's address as Punta Gorda, Fla., just north of Fort Myers. But directory assistance has no residential telephone number for Martin.

With its dozen turrets, four corner towers and 12-foot walls, the castle is at once a forbidding sight and a vision of whimsy. Unruly bushes grow out of the western battlements, and white cattle graze in the surrounding pasture. Signs posted at the front and side gates to the property warn trespassers to stay away. But every day tourists stop and pull out cameras to take snapshots of the unexpected sight among the rolling horse farms. "It seems like every motor-coach group that comes through has a question about it," said David Lord, executive director of the Greater Lexington Visitors and Convention Bureau. "And every group has an idea of what to do with it."

The property even warrants an entry in The Insider's Guide to Lexington and the Kentucky Bluegrass. The third edition of the guide, published last year, says the castle "has been the subject of more speculation than any other building in the Bluegrass, and it's great fuel for a child's imagination." Children aren't the only ones curious. But few people have been beyond the castle's walls, and perhaps fewer still have ever received a response from Martin. "I've tried many times to reach him," said Allen, a lawyer who lives next door to the castle property, and who is interested in buying or leasing a portion of the castle land. "I've left messages. I've written letters. I get nothing back. Absolutely nothing."

One person who did earn a return call from Martin was Lexington real estate agent Ken Silvestri, who has always been interested in selling the castle. After calling the advertised number once a day for 20 straight days in 1992, Silvestri finally got a return call from Martin. "When I talked to him, he just seemed non-interested in any sale of the property," Silvestri said. "But I think if somebody were really interested in buying and had a real solid offer, yeah, I think he would sell it. I think he's burned out from all the inquiries and from a lot of the wackos who call."

The story behind the castle is as follows:

Rex and Caroline Bogaert Martin got the idea for the castle during a vacation in Europe. The Martins initially had trouble finding suitable acreage for the new home, but finally purchased 53 acres along U.S. 60 and Pisgah Pike. Plans were drawn in 1968 and ground was broken the next year. But in 1975, while the castle was still under construction, the Martins divorced. Whether the castle's progress had anything to do with the separation is part of its mystery. Divorce records give only an oblique reference to the castle acreage.

When finished, the castle was to have seven bedrooms and 15 bathrooms. There was supposed to be an Italian fountain in the driveway, and tennis courts. But the castle was never finished. In the mid-1980s, a turret on the southwest corner tower tilted. It was repaired, and several smaller turrets were erected within the castle walls.

In 1990, Rex Martin had prospective buyers who wanted to use the castle as a museum or an art gallery. He sought to change the zoning of nearly 36 acres from A-1 agricultural to P-1 for professional uses. At the time, Lexington attorney Bill Jacobs, who represented Martin, argued that the character of the neighborhood around the castle had changed and that the property was no longer usable as a residence. The professional zoning would have allowed the building's use as a museum. Residents of the Pisgah community, a historic district north of the castle, opposed the rezoning, saying Martin's request was too vague. Shortly thereafter, Martin withdrew the request for the zone change. In a July 1990 letter to the chairman of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission, he wrote: "I would like to express my desire to have this petition re-addressed by the commission at a time when I have a definite purchaser and a definite usage."

Over the years there have been rumors that the castle would be used as a tobacco museum or a hillbilly museum. But members of the Pisgah Historic District would scrutinize any rezoning attempts because they don't want a high-rise building or other commercial property that would detract from the area's stone-walled horse farms, Allen said. "We would like for him to do something with it in keeping with the district," said Toss Chandler, a member of the Pisgah Historic Community Association. Lord, the visitors bureau director, said people have had all kinds of suggested uses for the building. "A lot of them see it as having something to do with children or that has a children's focus," he said. Others have suggested that it might be a good site for a medieval-style restaurant similar to those of Medieval Times, a chain that features jousting knights, sword-fighting and four-course banquets.

In the meantime, the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce will continue to field inquiries from visitors. Many want to take a tour through the castle, or ask whether they could hold wedding receptions there. "We get as many questions about that (castle) as anything," said Janet Menser, Woodford Chamber executive director.

By the numbers

4 -- Number of corner towers.
10 -- Approximate number of years the property known as "the Castle" on U.S. 60 has been on the market.
12 -- Number of turrets.
20 -- Number of consecutive days real estate agent Ken Silvestri, who has always been interested in selling the castle, called the advertised number before finally getting a return call from the owner.
62 -- Average number of days during May that a residential property in Central Kentucky was on the market.
$800,000 -- The fair cash value of the land and buildings today as listed at the Woodford County property valuation administrator's office. They were assessed at $754,000 five years ago.

LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER
Sunday, June 13, 1999

The castle: Property's story doesn't read like a fairy tale
The years come and go, but ``the castle'' remains.

By Greg Kocher
------------------------------------------------------------------------
It stands on a hill overlooking U.S. 60 between Lexington and Versailles, a silent sentinel keeping watch over the cattle that graze around its ramparts. Little is known about its past, and its future remains cloaked in mystery as well. The castle ``has been the subject of more speculation than any other building in the Bluegrass, and it's great fuel for a child's imagination,'' said 1997's The Insider's Guide to Lexington and the Kentucky Bluegrass.

Its dozen turrets, four corner towers and 12-foot walls still prompt motorists to stop and take snapshots. But a sign warns that trespassers will be prosecuted. Owner Rex B. Martin could not be reached for comment through a Woodford contact. Tax records in Woodford County list his address as Punta Gorda, Fla., but there is no telephone listing for him there.

Rex and Caroline Martin got the idea for the castle on a trip to Europe. Plans called for seven bedrooms, 15 bathrooms and an Italian fountain in the driveway. Ground was broken in 1969. The Martins divorced while the castle was still under construction. It was never finished.

Today, the 50.5 acres of land and buildings are valued at $800,000 for tax purposes. Martin's 1998 property tax bill was nearly $4,595, according to the Woodford County tax records. In 1990, prospective buyers wanted to use the castle as an art gallery or museum. But neighbors opposed the rezoning that would have allowed that use, and Martin withdrew the request. Once Kentucky native Lee Majors of The Six Million Dollar Man fame was said to have bought the castle. That was untrue. Another time, actor Sylvester Stallone allegedly wanted to film a scene for a movie there. Never happened.

All kinds of uses have been suggested, such as a tobacco museum, a medieval-style restaurant and even a site for re-enacting the whole knight-in-shining-armor bit. For now, it is merely a conversation piece for passers-by. ``They want to know, `What is it?' '' said Janet Menser, executive director of the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I reviewed your website on the Martin Castle in Lexington. My husband and I have driven past there many times and said, "Wouldn't it be great if they made it a bed and breakfast" or "It would be great as a luxury high-end hotel when it came time for people to come in for the Derby", or "It would be a great place to have Renaissance Faires", or "It would be fantastic if they would just open it to the public for tours (at a cost, of course)", but to just let it sit there and go to ruin is such a tragedy. It looks lovely and could be used in so many wonderful ways. I wish Lexington would just buy it and use it in some productive manner.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I just reviewed your web page about Martin Castle in Kentucky, and just an update.

The castle is still owned by Rex Martin who now resides in Florida but is in poor health. When contacted his ex-wife whom the castle was built for she said that she just wanted a house surrounded by ten foot walls and it just got a little carried away. Rex Martin has had the castle for sale for several years, but few have been inside. It is unfinished on the inside and has had many potential buyers. The area has once been considered for a Medieval style restaurant but the area is considered residential zone. The castle is for sale at 948,000 dollars.

Later, I received E-Mail which explained that:

The property is now owned by a man whos last name is Allen, (the lawyer mentioned on your page). Rex Martin has recently built a mansion on an island in Georgia, complete w/ drawbridge, but it's not a castle. There are people living in trailers behind the castle to watch it, there are "no trespassing" signs posted everywhere. I understand the price asked for the castle is 4 million dollars. .

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

There was a recent story by WAVE-TV in Louisville, KY
Carrie Harned Investigates Woodford County's Mysterious Castle
By Carrie Harned WAVE-TV

In the heart of the Bluegrass, you expect to see horses grazing in rolling pastures, but just off U.S. 60 in Versailles sits one of Kentucky's biggest mysteries: a castle that has been closed off from the public for more than three decades. Now our Carrie Harned unveils the truth behind the castle walls.

Little is known about the Woodford County castle, but Kentucky history specialist Ron Bryant says "it's had a jaded past."

Cypress wood gates with lion heads trimmed in gold foil keep would-be visitors at bay. And that secrecy has given way to plenty of legends. It's been rumored that Rock Hudson and Lee Majors wanted to buy it. But in truth, the story of the castle is one of love. However, there would be no fairy tale ending for the castle's owner, Rex Martin.

"Rex Martin did supposedly build it for his wife, Caroline," Bryant explains. "They were in Europe, she saw some castles -- especially German castles -- and she was taken with them."

So in 1968, Martin, a wealthy Lexington developer, bought 50 acres along U.S. 60. The following year, he broke ground for the castle. By the mid-70s, however, with the castle still under construction, a divorce was in the works. Records give only a vague reference to the "castle acreage" as to why the couple split.

Bryant says that "Mrs. Martin was interviewed at one time and was asked to talk about the castle and she demurred; she said, 'I'd rather not.'"

And so the castle sits, just a shell, unfinished and unused for over three decades. Tax records offer a glimpse at what was meant to be. Inside the 12-foot walls sits a 10,400 square foot, two-story home with seven bedrooms, seven baths, and three dining rooms, complete with central air, heat and a swimming pool.

According to Bryant, "the big towers were supposed to be used for a cabana or an office."

Over the years, the castle has become a favorite place for tourists to snap photos and it has even caught the attention of Queen Elizabeth and her entourage. But the queen's secretary's assessment was anything but royal. He was quoted as describing the castle as "an Americanized Mickey Mouse castle," and that they "expected Donald Duck to look over the ramparts at anytime."

In fact, from the concrete curtain wall to the symmetrical layout, Bryant says the castle is very ... un-castle-like. "The cupolas which are on the towers, the turrets if you will, on the four corners are of aluminum and every so often the wind will blow them off, and they do not hold paint at all."

In the past, the castle has been up for sale, but placing a bid has proven as elusive as finding Mr. Martin himself. The land is only zoned for residential use, and the current tax assessment values the castle and property at $963,400.

Rex Martin is now in failing health. When we contacted Mr. Martin's son, who lives out of state, he told us the family has no plans for the castle. Out of respect for his father, he also denied our request for a tour.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I'd like to correct something. Rex didn't run out of money. He was building it for his wife and she divorced him so he stopped. My uncle helped build everything and I've been inside. My favorite thing in it is the white limo. It was shipped over from England and Uncle Bill drove it all the way to Kentucky.

It's not really as neat on the inside as the outside, but I still like it. Uncle Bill said they made the decorations above the doors by covering styrafoam with plaster. The outside looks like blocks but it's really solid concrete. The tower things on the main buildings have been walled off so you can't get in. He even gave my sisters and I some of the lion decorations on the outside. There are tons of those left over.

{{Castlefinder note!}} I received E-Mail from several people informing me that Mr. Martin, the builder of Martin Castle has died. I am sorry to hear this, he was obviously a man of great vision. A newspaper story is here:
"http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/6467796.htm"

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I am very interested in the castle on Versailles Road in Lexington Kentucky. About 2-3 months ago on the evening news, they had mentioned that the castle was being looked at by a lawyer out of California. It was said that he was thinking of buying it to turn it into either a bed in breakfast hotel, or a museum. I don't never if he ever purchased it or what came of it, but it had a price tag on it of over 1 million.

Later, I received e-Mail that said:

I know about the castle along the Hwy beteen Lexington, Ky. and Versailes, Ky. there is a notice posted on it near the gate that says something to fact that there is "NO TRESPASSING PURSUIANT TO KRS 511". I talked with a member of the State Police and he informed me that there had been a burgerly at the castle.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

Here is an update on Martins Castle in Versailles Ky. The castle was purchsed by Thomas Post a lawyer out of Miami. As of the end of February, you have been able to see work going on inside the castle. Cranes and construction crews have been working on it. Post stated that he has plans to use the castle as a residence for one- year to get the feel of it, and then he hopes to have big names in entertainment come and visit. Derby time he also stated it would be used. Charity events may also be in the works.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I am planning a day-trip with my family to visit Martin Castle so I researched it's exact location. I thought others might be interested in the below link:

http://terraserver.microsoft.com/addressimage.aspx?t=1&s=10&alon=-84.65259206225&alat=38.045837281666664&w=2&ref=A%7cMartin+Castle+in+Versailles%2c+Kentucky&Lon=-84.65259206225&Lat=38.045837281666664

It is from Microsoft's TerraServer Satellite Imagery Database and is dated April 10, 1993. You can use the site to pan/zoom around and see exactly where the castle is.


On Tuesday morning I started receiving E-Mail messages about the fire at Martin Castle. Over a period of three days, I received more than 60 messages about the fire. Reading the messages and the associated stories actually brought tears to my eyes. Just when Martin Castle was about to get a new lease on life, it caught fire. We can only hope that the owner will rebuild.

Photo by Charles Bertram.

Some of the links I received via E-Mail are here:

http://unusualkentucky.tripod.com/martincastle.html

http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/8637179.htm

http://www.whas11.com/topstories/stories/051004cckkWHAS11castlefire.1acf61504.html

http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/8645437.htm

http://bb.castles.org/Post00545.php

Later, I received several E-Mails telling me that the fire looks like arson. Here is one of the messages with a link:

Here is some more info. on the Martin castle. As we all know it caught fire, it was declared an arson. Here is a link to the news story from my home town of Lexington, Ky. http://lex18.com/Global/story.asp?S=1901780

It is a tragedy, We really hope it gets rebuilt.

Later, I received e-Mail that said:

Iím sure others are keeping you up to date but here are a couple of interesting links:
http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?sectionId=45&id=30593
(some of the most dramatic images of the fire on a horizontal shot)

and more info on the arson verdict
http://departments.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?sectionId=46&id=30977

I just received an E-Mail with great news.

Just thought you would like to know that this castle is being rebuilt after the fire that destroyed it. Here is a news article about it http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/local/10930929.htm

And another message:

I just wanted to let you know that Martin Castle is being re-built. Thomas Post who bought the castle for $1.8 million filed a building permit to re-build the castle on Versailles Rd. The foundation has already been poured.

Later, another message:

Update on Martin Castle. It is going to be re-built to look like like it originally did. It is going to have 12 ft. wooden doors, which will open up to 30 ft. ceilings, solid stone walls and massive chandlers. It will have a dining room that will seat 40 plus people, and a ballroom. The castle will have mid-evil type splendor. The 4 corner turrets are going to used as office, children's play area, a greenhouse, and a cabana to complement the Olympic sized pool behind it.

On 5-11-05, I received E-Mail that said:

I wanted to share with you the latest news on Martin Castle in Versailles, KY. It's going to be rebuilt and turned into a tourist home for overnight guests. Here is a link to the news article: http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/11549213.htm

On 7-21-05, I received E-Mail that said:

This article has further details on the Rex Martin Castle near Lexington, KY.

Castle owner buys Crescent Hill FarmThe owner of the Woodford County castle said yesterday he plans to turn a nearby farmhouse into a tourist home. Thomas R. Post of Miami purchased Crescent Hill Farm on Shannon Run Road from the Stilz family, long-time Woodford County residents. He paid more than $3.5 million for the 200-acre property.

The full article will be available on the Web for a limited time: http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/12174224.htm

(c) 2005 Lexington Herald-Leader and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

On 6-24-07, I received E-Mail that said:

Here is a web-site with photos of what the martin castle in KY used to look like from the inside.
http://www.sellwithhale.com/lexingtoncastle.html

On 8-28-07, I received E-Mail that said:

Yesterday I took a group of seven Goldwing Riders to the "Kentucky Castle" on Versailles Road in lexington, Kentucky. It is currently owned by Mike Post, an attorney originally from Lexington, KY, currently living in Miami, FL. He bought it in 2003 from the estate of Rex Martin. While I was there I asked the point of contact there, Julie, about some rumors I had read. Two rumors: Lee Majors was never an owner and William Shatner was never an owner.

In 2004 there was a fire at the Castle, the Arson investigation believed it was caused by a welder's work.

When I set up the trip in July the castle was scheduled to open in November 2007, but is now scheduled to open in April 2008. They hope to have a bit of a B&B setup as well as hosting special events.

The castle is remarkable, but we were not allowed inside due to insurance reasons. I peeked inside and one could tell it was not complete but it was nearly complete.

On 8-17-08, I received e-mail that said:

I just found a website for the Castle Post in Versailles KY. It is going to be used as a bed and breakfast and is set to open soon. I lived in Lexington for 10 years and I am very excited to see it finally in use and open to the public (for a price)!
http://www.thecastlepost.com/index.html

On 9-19-08, I received e-mail that said:

Thought you would like the latest information on the former "Martin Castle" I think it is ok to publish this link on your website this time since it is coming from the Lexington Newspaper.

http://www.kentucky.com/211/story/527468.html

As you can see in the video and pictures, it is going to be grand.

On 10-17-08, I received E-mail that said:

The website for the Post Castle(former Martin Castle) has just undergone a new facelift: http://www.postcastle.com/default.asp

On 11-24-08, I received e-mail that said:

Hello! I thought I would drop you a note in light of recent events.

Yesterday, [11-22-2008] the owner of the CastlePost in Kentucky held a celebratory ball in honor of it's owner and the completion of the interior of the Castle. I was fortunate enough to attend.

When I arrived, there were several photographers taking photos, so I am sure that the website will have a new photo gallery soon [there is already a small one up with a few interior shots]. To say the least, this castle is extraordinarily lavish. The castle was absolutely breathtaking. Not a single detail had been overlooked. There were hardwood, marble, and lush carpeted floors throughout. Each room had extravagant wood paneling that had been carved and guilded in gold. Chandeliers hung from every ceiling, and often times there was more than one.

The entrance hall had a grand staircase, three huge crystal chandeliers, coats of arms along the banisters, and murals of cherubs painted on the gilded ceiling. To the right of the Entrance Hall was the music room. Inside was a grand piano, a harpist and very fine old world style furniture. Next to the Music Room was the Ball Room. It was primarily white with gold guilding with three chandeliers, and a large hearth at the end of the room. During dinner, there was a small Jazz group that entertained us.

In addition to these things, there was a library, dining hall [which had been temporarily turned into a bar], and a game room that had pool tables, card tables and a wet bar.

It was clear that the owner spared no expenses in the rebuilding of his castle. It is not yet open to the public, but will be soon. All that is left to do [besides a few more details in the interior] is landscaping the expansive grounds and sweeping front driveway.

The castle is truly magnificent, and when it opens to the public, I am sure that it will become a wonderful tourist spot.

On 11-26-08, I received e-mail that said:

I just wanted to write and give you an update on the Martin Castle in Versailles Kentucky. I was watching the Daily Buzz (News program) on Nov. the 25th and heard the castle was almost done with construction. After the fire someone did rebuild it and turned it to a bed and breakfast. Aparently for a nights stay is pricey. They are looking to open it right around the time of the Kentucky Derby.

On 12-6-08, I received e-mail that said:

Here is the latest video picture of the inside of the Castle:

http://www.heraldleaderphoto.com/2008/11/24/castlepost-media-tour/

On 11-21-12, I received e-mail that said:

I came across your website on castles tonight while researching the possibility of renting a castle for a family reunion. I came across your post on the Martin castle in Versailles, Kentucky and noticed that it had not been updated in a while. I was the on vacation in April of last year and drove up to the castle. It looked the way people have described it in your post but it appeared to be empty at the time. There was a sign posted on the gate stating that it was available for tours but I was unable to get any answer at the phone number provided on the sign. I have since lost the phone number and I have not been able to obtain any information on it.

Back to "Castles of the United States"

A special thanks to Mert Lemon for sending the after photo.