Once Upon a Time, in Warsaw Township ...
WARSAW TOWNSHIP—At the far western edge of Goodhue County sits a partially completed castle atop a small hill. It's made of stone and concrete, the front wooden door is festooned with British iconography and a good sized garden awaits its first crop — but the throne room, bathroom and every other kind of room is empty. Without furniture or electricity.
This tiny kingdom is in transition and it's ready for a new owner to come and sweep it off the market.
Though this unique structure is destined to stand for 300 years, its origins have been shrouded in mystery since the locals first took notice over two decades ago.
Casey Fluegel grew up down the road from the castle and drove past the work site every day for 10 years.
"You would never see a lot of construction company trucks," Fluegel said.
"It was usually when we would drive by at night there would be one or two lights on and someone up there working. Odd hours working. I think that's why it was a long process."
A castle dropped into any neighborhood would certainly turn heads, but especially in this area, Fluegel said, it's novel.
"The community, it's a lot of farmers so you would never —," Fluegel paused, "it's very odd.
"I can't imagine how much it would be to complete the castle, is the biggest thing, and for our area there's no land to promote crops or anything with it."
The castle has been on the market for less than a year and it is described as having three bedrooms and three bathrooms on 6.2 acres. The current asking price is $400,000.
Stacee Draz, a real estate agent with Red Wing Homes for Sale, said when it comes to listing unique homes, the best approach is often to understand the story of the seller.
"There's probably nothing like that in the state," Draz said.
In this case, she'd like to know "where their vision came from, what their background is. Because clearly this guy's super talented. And what their plan is. Were they planning to live here? Build a B&B?"
It stirs the imagination to try and understand the origins of perhaps Minnesota's only castle. But, as it turns out, the answer is quite simple and without much detail.
The thing that transformed a little tree-lined hill on a simple country road into an unforgettable landmark is "thought process."
The creator of this medieval masterpiece is Gary Arntson Sr., a resident of South St. Paul. He said that his experience as a craftsman led him to wonder what it would be like to build a very sturdy structure. So he designed this castle, got an architect to sign off on the plans, and he built it up slowly in his spare time using a very small crew.
He did intend to live there one day with his wife, but has since abandoned the project due to illness. Still, he would like to see the work continue with a new owner.
Arntson said he feels fulfilled by the work he's put into the castle. But his real "happily ever after" might come if the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office can catch the trespassers who have made repeated efforts over the years to break into the building and steal equipment from his work site.
Sheriff's deputies said that the property is on their "frequent patrol" list but there hasn't been enough evidence to connect anyone to 12 reported cases of damage to property, burglary and theft that have occurred at the castle since 1997.
"It's kind of magical," Fluegel mused. "It would be interesting to see if it was complete, how it would be to the times."