This past weekend, we were in downtown Decatur running around with errands to complete when up on a hill, behind the Baymont Hotel we were staying in was a building that resembled a castle. I pointed it out to Terri and she excitedly said "Let's go see it!". So we head out toward the structure, not knowing how to get there, but we weaved our way in and out of streets north of town until we were at the intersection where the building stood stately above the Decatur skyline.
We drove up to the property and surprisingly it was in fairly good shape. The grounds were freshly mowed, fresh cut tree limbs were in front of the property and a lone worker was trying to get a piece of equipment running in close proximity to the entry gate stately marked "El Castile". We got out and shot a few pictures of the property from the angles we could get to while adhering to the signs that said "Private Property, keep out" every 15' feet on the fence that surrounded the property.
We spent about 10 - 15 minutes there taking pictures and admiring details of the structure that are rarely seen in Texas, much less the United States. After our weekend in Decatur was over and we returned back to Cleburne, I spent a little time researching the building and came across some very interesting information.
"El Castile" or "The Castle" was built in 1883 by cattle baron Dan Waggoner and was once headquarters to the vast Waggoner ranching empire in North Texas. The house boasts 16 rooms and a full basement with 8 wood-burning fireplaces. It is constructed of fossibiferous limestone decorated with hand hewn wrought iron on the roof and balconies. The entrance hall has a grand staircase winding to the second floor with Texas star motifs decorating the walnut & oak stairway and other woodwork throughout the house. Massive interior doors stand 16 feet tall, 3 have stained glass. The Victorian library that displays wrought iron is in glass fixtures from Denver.
The house has a large dining room, 8 bedrooms, 5 marble baths and a huge kitchen with a copper sink and fixtures. The house was the model for the home in the movie "Giant". The home Thistle Hill in Fort Worth was a wedding present to Dan's Daughter Electra in 1902. El Castile was purchased by Phil Luker Sr. in 1944 and remains in the Luker family to this day. It is privately owned and not available for public viewing.
But, if you want to see a building that was built for "Texas Royalty", albeit from the outside only, take a trip up to Decatur, locate the square and drive straight north on East Main about five or six blocks and take the time to look at this timeless structure. I'm glad we did, because honestly, I didn't know anything about El Castile until this past weekend.
There are outstanding architectural structures all over Texas and El Castile is only one. I hope you get the time to visit this place. I don't think you'll be sorry.
The Impulsive Texan
"I may not get much done, but I sure am slow"...