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Tiny castle finds new home in Herington

Stonemason buys Lincolnville landmark, will restore it on his own property

Staff writer

A longtime Lincolnville landmark was moved to a new home Saturday.

A playhouse-size stone castle stood for 90 years on the outskirts of Lincolnville, where it was visible from US-77. The granddaughter of the stonemason who built the castle said family records show that it was built in 1930. A brass plaque uncovered during work to remove the castle said it was built in 1936.

The castle has been sold to Herington stonemason Larry Lawrenz, who moved it to his own property and will restore it.

Lawrenz said the castle is in good shape considering its age. Although the foundation was deteriorating, the structure had not begun to shift.

Another castle in Herington, built earlier in 1929, stands in the lawn of 310 Kansas, a home once owned by longtime Lincolnville physician John DeMand. That castle was restored several years ago.

The castles were built by stonemason Carl Swanson, whose work helped pay for medical bills he owed DeMand.

Swanson’s granddaughter, Donna Rogers, said DeMand’s brother-in-law, Lorenzo “Boots” Lindau owned the house where the second castle was built. DeMand, who died in 1963, had the castle built as a gift for his brother-in-in-law.

Lindau’s wife, Mary, came to Kansas on an orphan train and was adopted by Henry Wight, Lincolnville historian Judy Houdyshell said.

Linda Green, who owns the property just south of Lincolnville where the castle stood for nearly a century, said there were originally three castles.

The third castle was built in Marion, but no longer stands.

Roberta Reffitt, Green’s daughter, said the castle is in need of repairs to its foundation, and the family doesn’t want to have the expensive work done.

“At this time my dad needs to not take care of it,” Reffitt said. “I just wanted to have it preserved.”

Lawrenz is more than willing to care for the old landmark.

Lawrenz saw the castle a few years ago and stopped to look it over.

“To me, this is a Picasso,” Lawrenz said. “To me, it’s just a piece of art. When I went and looked at it, it brought tears to my eyes.”

Lawrenz said he made the family an offer to buy it, but at that time, they weren’t interested.

Two years ago, the family changed their minds.

“They shot me a price,” Lawrenz said. “I’m going to move it to 923 US-77. I’ve got a pad already poured.”

Lawrenz declined to say how much he paid for the castle.

Lawrenz said the castle will be restored to “brand new” condition and will still be visible from the highway. The cost to restore the castle would be prohibitive if it were not for the fact he can do the work himself, he said.

The tiny castle will stand in front of Lawrenz’s 102-year-old home.

Besides uncovering the brass plaque, Lawrenz said he discovered a 54-foot deep hand dug well below it. The well has 20 feet of water in it, he said.

“I think that well goes back to the Homestead days,” Lawrenz said.

Last modified May 14, 2020

 

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