Kentucky (Tall) Tales: The Versailles/Lexington Road Castle

The Castle Post in Versailles, Kentucky also known as the Versailles Road Castle

Note: We’ve been collecting stories — curiosities really — about Kentucky. The things not found in history books or in visitors’ guides. The things that are rumored, whispered about and told as (sometimes) far-fetching tales by locals. Sometimes they’re totally true. Sometimes they have to be taken with a grain of salt … making them all the more fun.

Everything But the Moat

The rolling hills of bluegrass and picturesque Thoroughbred horse farms that line the road connecting Versailles and Lexington, Kentucky are the same beautiful and iconic images of central Kentucky that you’ll find on postcards at local gift stores. But it isn’t these charming views that cause traffic to noticeably slow down as you top the last hill before entering Fayette County, it is the stone turrets that come into view. If the Bluegrass region’s green hills didn’t already resemble the landscapes of western Europe and the United Kingdom, the stone walls, turrets, and drawbridge of The Kentucky Castle—known locally as simply “The Castle” or sometimes “Martin Castle,” for its previous owners—certainly give the feeling that you’ve traveled across the Atlantic, or even back in time.

As far as neighbors can determine, this castle is void of any knights in shining armor, and the clusters of people standing outside its gates are tourists taking pictures, not villagers arriving for market. And while this Versailles castles’s history isn’t as rich (literally or figuratively) as its counterpart in France, sordid rumors of its past are nearly as entertaining.

First and foremost, the castle began as a labor of love. Rex and Caroline Martin were taken with old European castles they saw while on vacation in 1968. When they returned home, they purchased the 53 acres off U.S. 60 in Woodford County, Kentucky, just outside of Lexington and broke ground on their dream home in 1969. The Martins’ finished estate was to have seven bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, four corner towers, a dozen turrets, 12-foot-high walls, a drawbridge, an Italian fountain in the courtyard, and tennis courts out back. But before the castle could be completed, the couple divorced, and Rex stopped building, leaving the 10,400-square-foot, two-story home unfinished and empty.

In 1988, Rex put his castle on the market with a For Sale sign posted on the gates that announced showings by appointment only. The castle was up for sale on and off for the better part of two decades, but as the story goes, countless real estate agents who showed interested in the property never received any response from Rex.

Rex died in 2003 without ever selling the castle.

Later that year, Thomas Post, a graduate of Lexington’s Lafayette High School and the University of Kentucky, bought the property for $1.8 million and announced plans to convert the castle into a bed and breakfast so that locals and tourists would finally have an opportunity to peek behind the walls they’d’ been speculating about for years. But in 2004, the house inside those gates caught fire, burning nearly the entire main building to the ground. Locals who caught wind of the fire (including these two roadtrippers who were in high school at the time) gathered along Versailles Road late into the night as the iconic structure went up in flames.

 

The new owner rebuilt, completing construction in 2008, and converting the property into a hotel. The Castle has since sold again and is known today at The Kentucky Castle, a luxurious hotel and event venue. Inside, a great hall with thirty-foot ceilings, solid stone walls, and elegant chandeliers welcome guests. The castle also includes a library, a large dining room, a gourmet kitchen, a sun-lit breakfast room, and twelve extravagant suites.

The Kentucky Castle is located at 230 Pisgah Pike in Versailles.

Cover image of My Old Kentucky Road Trip: Historic Destinations and Natural Wonders Want to learn more about Kentucky’s famous attractions? Pick up your copy of My Old Kentucky Road Trip: Historic Destinations and Natural Wonders at your local bookstore or order from Amazon. From the parkways to the back roads, these two Kentucky natives are exploring our Bluegrass State!

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25 thoughts on “Kentucky (Tall) Tales: The Versailles/Lexington Road Castle

  1. The cause of the fire was never determined, but it was not lightning. There was no weather at all that night. If I recall correctly, it was ruled an arson, but without a main suspect? Or, perhaps it was an electrical fire, but arson was suspected? I can’t remember, but lightning was not involved.

  2. Traveled past this on a regular basis in the mid-late 90’s. My kids came up with the idea that this was Santa’s summer home. It’s a wonderful memory from their childhood 🙂

      1. I used to live behind the farm on Pisgah pike in1974,I always wanted to see the inside of the castle still haven’t,there was always construction going on there.
        It’s true that Johnny Depp mother lives near by my son-in-law painted her home.I like the ideal it is offered for weddings but its very pricey.a real life fairy tale..

  3. Your lead in of the article promised juicy gossip and rumors and delivered none of that including the rumor when I lived there at the time that the castle was being built for the owners lover.

  4. Once upon a time as a child I went there with my dad to make a service call for the caretaker. He lived in a trailer sitting on the grounds. For the life of me I can barely remember it. I do remember how different it looks from the back compared to the front. I would love to see it now because it was unfinished back then. All I could then about was that I expected a castle and it was just a construction site.

    1. People are in and out of it asking about having a wedding or other events there. They have a farmer’s market there once a week. You could see it

  5. A local wealth advisor company held monthly dinners there… We went just to get inside and see it! Pretty impressive… But sadly, cold

  6. Blight on the community. Should have never been built there. It has nothing to do with Kentucky history of the Kentucky Bluegrass landscape.

  7. Castle Post – Lexington Kentucky
    thecastlepost.com – This web site offers lots of photos inside and out if you want to see what it looks like. I have attended several events there, and it is quite lovely.
    CastlePost is your premier luxury hotel in Versailles, near Lexington Kentucky, offering upscale amenities in the middle of horse country

    1. Me Post passed away and it has already sold to a group of business men in Lexington who are going to continue operating it plus make it a working farm

  8. My parents took my sister and I on a trip to Lexington in the late 70’s/early 80’s. We checked into a hotel that night after dark. Imagine our surprise when we woke up the next day to see the castle out our window. I was just in Lexington for a training and saw it for the first time since my childhood. Neat place!

  9. It’s beautiful. My mother Loretta walker dated Rex . Rex was really a great man, me and my other Siblings always enjoyed his company.

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