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Years ago, Mike Newman, owner of a bakery in downtown Bellville, bought some land just outside of town (where he is a member of San Bernard Electric Cooperative). Then he did something that made his parents think he was crazy: He spent eight years erecting a 3,400-square-foot castle—and then he moved in. He surrounded the turreted structure with a moat and installed a working drawbridge and a catapult that can shoot big rocks about 100 yards. Naturally, we had a few questions. Here are excerpts from our interview.
Q. What possessed you to build a castle?
A. I bought 20 acres of land in the country and was going to put a house on it. But nothing really struck my fancy. There’s nothing wrong with a trailer house, but I didn’t want to put a trailer house out here. The idea of the castle came up one afternoon when I was talking with a friend. That afternoon I drew some designs on a napkin. I played with that idea for several years (before the first concrete slab was poured in 1998). It’s worked out well. It’s a way for me to promote my bakery and the Bellville area.
Q. Can people come and visit?
A. The castle is open for tours of groups of 10 or more. The typical cost is $12.50 per person, which includes lunch and a tour.
Q. What kind of groups visit?
A. People come in by the busload. It’s popular for weddings. And, this summer I started working with Murder by Chocolate, a Houston group that stages murder mysteries on weekends. There’s a mock siege of the castle, and someone is kidnapped and murdered. People can participate and get into costumes and follow scripts. And I serve a medieval feast with a whole roasted pig and all the fixings.
For more information, go to http://newmanscastle.com or call (979) 865-9804.