Kentucky Castle Being Rebuilt - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Kentucky Castle Being Rebuilt

By Carrie Weil

(VERSAILLES, Ky.) -- Who knew bricks and mortar could create so much controversy, lure and legend? But a piece of blue grass real estate has done just that. WAVE 3's Carrie Weil has the the story behind the walls of the Kentucky Castle.

Hardly hidden on a sprawling 55 acres in Versailles -- but steeped in secrecy -- the "Kentucky Castle" is a landmark with a story.

"For castles it's had a jaded past," said Kentucky historian Ron Bryant.

For three decades, it has inspired intrique -- and even some disgust -- with not everyone wanting a medival monstrosity nestled in horse country.

But the foundation of the castle was once built on love.

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

So in 1968, Martin, a wealthy developer, broke ground along U.S. 60 in Woodford County. But by the mid-70s, the marriage was over.

That's when construction of the 10,000 square foot home with seven bedrooms and baths, three dining rooms and a swimming pool stopped.

And the rumors began.

"It was going to be bought by any number of number of movie stars," said Bryant said. "Rock Hudson was supposed to buy it, Lee Majors was supposed to buy it."

A "For Sale" sign appeared in 1998, and buyers came calling. Real estate agent Tom Bierderman said he tracked Martin down -- after three weeks of trying.

"He did call back and said 'I'd love to show you the place, and I'd be happy to.'"

The catch:  the potential buyer would have to wait seven months.

So photos were taken, for tax records, and then stored away. They now offer the only glimpse inside the castle's walls.

Martin died in 2003, still the king of his unfisnished castle, and perhaps still with a broken heart.

But a few months later, a new chapter was started in the Kentucky Castle tale. Another elusive man, this time a Miami attorney, dropped nearly $2 million to make the castle his, inspiring new headlines.

Six months later, the castle was in flames. Firefighters fought the blaze through the night and into the next day, when sunlight revealed the extensive damage and cast a shadow of suspicion: investigators determined that the fire had been deliberately set.

Now the castle is being rebuilt, and visible progress is being made each month. The once off limits fortress will soon be a home for many, with 16 bedrooms -- including one in each turret. And there will be plenty of space for parties and receptions.

Without a doubt, the Kentucky castle has been the talk of the town for years. Even Queen Elizabeth and her entrouage looked it over during a visit, although their assessment was less than flattering. Calling Kentucky's castle an "Americanized, Mickey Mouse castle," and saying they "expected Donald Duck to look out over the ramparts at any time."

So with ridicule, love, loss, tragedy and triumph in its past, it looks like the castle on a Bluegrass hill may just get the happily ever after ending every fairy tale deserves.

The latest word on the castle re-construction is that it's set to open this fall. As for the fire, the mystery continues. Police have no leads in the case.

Previous Stories:

Online Reporter: Carrie Weil

Online Producer: Michael Dever

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