THE MYSTERIOUS CASTLE OF ALPHARETTA

Many of you know that my sister – and then parents – relocated to Atlanta several years ago.  There is a rumor floating around that I was NONE TOO PLEASED about this decision.  Regardless, we paid our first of several visits to the city in the summer of 2007.

On our first trip to Atlanta, we saw many interesting things.  The Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, and the Carter Center for starters.  But slightly off the beaten path, just north of the city in the suburb of Alpharetta, we found something which topped them all – at least in terms of its uniqueness.

BEHOLD, my friends!  THE MYSTERIOUS CASTLE OF ALPHARETTA

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Believe it or not, this is no theme park sideshow.  This building stands as one of the most unusual living spaces ever. I myself have seen the owners, a gentle-looking older couple, out lovingly tending the grounds. The property lies (trust me on this) WAY OUT IN THE OPEN, at the corner of Arnold Mill and Cagle Roads, in either Roswell or Alpharetta (now the city of Milton). [As the dividing line is (for an outsider at least) too close to call, I am of course giving it to my parents who live in (you guessed it) Alpharetta (_now Milton_). But enough about Georgia politics!]

The house has a certain aura of MYSTERY about it. Likely b/c it is the only thing even semi-interesting and/or remotely Disney-esque for miles. and MILES. And of course, as any good mystery junkie, I HAD to get to the bottom of it.

Coming home from dinner one night, my father related the facts as he knew them. The owner, a former truck driver, built the castle years ago. Although it looks uninhabited from the road, with windows made of reflective yellow glass, most of the living quarters – ACCORDING TO MY FATHER’S SOURCE – are actually (hold your breath) subterranean. WOW. As if the exterior wasn’t captivating enough, rumor has it the house is actually a front for some sort of neolithic man cave dug deep inside the earth. Could it get any better??!!

Well, YES.

Although our paltry photos do their best to describe the actual home, they leave out some VERY juicy details. Such as The Moat. Yes, You heard me. The perimeter of the castle is surrounded by a (I do not know how deep) moat, dug into the ground and made into part of a swimming pool. It appears the moat widens at the rear of the house and becomes more conventionally pool-like. As you can see from the photo below, there is a small adjacent pool castle building, complete w. diving board. You cannot actually see said diving board in the photo, but it is there in reality, sticking out. I am not lying.

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Having done some research, I have read conflicting reports of the actual square footage of The Castle. Ranging from 1,400 to 6,600. QUITE A BIT OF DIFFERENCE, wouldn’t you say?? Me too. And as the above ground portion of building is truly tiny, I can only hold w/ the man cave theory. And speaking of a dream house, can you imagine anything better than thwarting pesky Avon Ladies and Jehovah’s Witnesses with your very own DRAWBRIDGE???! (No offense intended of course to those selling cosmetics and/or God.) But it seems as though the lucky owners made – as if part of their plan – not one but TWO drawbridges. I have read (second hand) that these lower into garage door openings. But again, I cannot attest to the factuality of this statement.

The entire perimeter of the property itself is (as you can see) girded by a wrought-iron fence, topped at points by sweet (British?) garden gnomes.

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In writing this post, I mean no disrespect to the owners, Rudy and Ruth McLaughlin.  To the contrary, I too believe every man’s house is his castle.  They just took the phrase slightly more literally than the rest of us.  And in doing so, provided us all with a little interest, a little mystery, a little something DIFFERENT. I thank them for doing so.  Certainly, my parents – who live just minutes away from the castle, must have a smile on their faces each time they drive by.  And the countless denizens of the adjacent affluent housing developments, when they’ve had “one too many” at the [insert club] dinner, never have to wonder IS THISHH ONE MIINE? when they pull up in the drive.

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Looking for MORE information w/out making the actual trip? See:

Roadside Georgia’s entry on THE CASTLE
Milton’s ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR
Way Marking’s entry on THE CASTLE
Will Roswell or Milton get Ted’s Spread?
And perhaps, the most encompassing entry yet on The Castle.

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46 thoughts on “THE MYSTERIOUS CASTLE OF ALPHARETTA

  1. Hey Beth! YES, the photos truly do not do the place justice. And just think – now you have a *destination* if you ever make it to Atlanta. YAY!

    TFF, as a woman, I’m neither interested in nor impressed by your man cave exploits. Though I suspect you’re attracting quite a male following w/ your website. Good luck.

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  2. Hey Mssc54 – I believe some of the rock used in constructing the Castle was quarried from Stone Mountain. Not sure how close it is though. My parents took the girls there summer 2007, but not sure of the distance.

    Curl, pls post pic of this dream house, STAT.

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  3. Cool, interesting and fun at the same time!

    This is my first visit to you, and what a visit it is!! I have visited Atlanta though never heard of this castle, and am now envious and curious at the same time!!!!

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  4. I had the nifty idea of getting an satellite image of the Castle in Google Earth, but the first place I came across while looking for an address already had a link to the location in Google Maps. If you have Google Earth you can plug in the coordinates (34.088546,-84.361449) and manipulate the view with more flexibility.

    p.s. Weeeeeird!

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  5. Hiya Vanessa! I think I’ve seen you over at Hayden’s place. WELCOME! Glad you enjoyed your stay. Feel free to visit anytime. :)

    Panny babe – I downloaded Google Earth just to do this and WOWZA! Toooo cooooool. Many thanks!

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  6. I will say that in the eighties, I used to drive by the castle as it was in construction stage. There was a sweet man in blue Dickies that was always working around the place.

    Without disclosing my sources, I can advise that there is indeed subterranean space here. Not an ounce of wood and everything is granite, marble and very French with crystal, tapestries, things from Europe inside.

    There is substantial space that has never been opened up. In fact, this was preplanned to accomodate family members in the event of a natural disaster.

    Your research is good, but there is far more to this story than ever will be reported.

    I can say that there may be a drinkable water aspect to the moat.

    Please leave these people in peace.

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  7. Sorry to disappoint, but there’s no cave. What you see is what you get. Moat does open to a pool and garage doors are drawbridges. He told his wife he’d build her a castle… and he did!

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  8. My daughter had her fairytale wedding at “The Castle” May 9, 2009. As the musicians played The Wedding March from atop the pool house, the draw bridge was lowered to reveal the bride, who was escorted by her father over the driveway and down a path to the the ceremony site in the back of the property. The reception was immediately afterward where everyone danced around the moat on the marble driveway.

    We thank Aunt Ruth and Uncle Rudolph for the best gift possible and once in a lifetime wedding that will never be forgotten!

    P.S. Rudolph still wears his blue coveralls…

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    • Dear “Relative”…

      Would you mind just confirming if the most popular “story” about its origins are true? The kids I teach tell me that it was built by an older man for his wife because when they were married he told her that one day he’d be able to treat her like a queen and build her a castle. (I absolutely LOVE that story!) It is fascinating to me and it’s on my bucket list to some day be invited in to see the inside. Thanks for sharing the information about your daughter’s wedding. Must’ve been GORGEOUS!

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  9. Haha funny that they get mad but they build a house on a corner lot (instead of the middle of a huge lot maybe surrounded by trees). They have NO landscaping to help prevent onlookers. It seems to me they enjoy the attention. Especially since a separate pull over area has been added for people to stop. If you don’t like the attention build a wall fit for a castle. And by the way is this a castle or the top from my bounce house?

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  10. Omg, I live about 5 minutes from the castle! Btw, I think its official name is “Cagle Castle” (named for its location). It’s definitely a major landmark around here (the Alpharetta/Milton area, not greater metro Atlanta) since we really don’t have much else more exciting than normal houses, cow/horse pastures, small shopping centers, and schools (the local high school, Milton High, actually is a major landmark, a ridiculously big and expensive building modeled after Monticello)
    I can’t say for sure, but I think the castle’s appearance is actually a little brighter (and I don’t just mean the lighting, since these pics were obviously taken on a gloomy day)… maybe they’ve pressure-washed it or something since then, or maybe added some colors around the windows, and, of course, there’s a lot more greenery now.
    I actually don’t think I’ve gone down Cagle Road to see the other side, I’ve just seen it from Arnold Mill, but the moat and pool building are still somewhat visible, and the whole property is *veerryy* impressive :)
    And while it is very much out in the open visually, it’s in a quiet area, and I don’t think people go there just to see it; in fact, I doubt that very many people who don’t pass it regularly on their way to wherever even know about it.

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  11. By chance, I met Mr. McLaughlin as a little girl. He was so sweet. I remember he told me all about the house, it’s a memory I really cherish. I’ve always wanted to stop by and see the family again but I doubt they would remember me now, haha!

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  12. Yes, we saw this while we were visiting and had the same reaction! I have to forward this along to my husband as he’ll love to read all of these comments. Would love to tour the building…wonder if they have tours?

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  13. Now that was an adventure. who would think an actual castle exist in America. What I like about the two sweet old couple who followed their hearts dream is that they showed the world that you don’t need to be a royalty to live in a castle. they also showed us to follow your imagination and what makes you happy and not what the society dictates you to do or feel. I put down my imaginary hat for their bravery. Just a cool , awesome post. Good job with the research too!

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  14. It wasn’t built as a man cave. The guys proposed to his wife and she said only if you treat me like a queen so he built her a castle.

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  15. …As far as it being right there on a corner in full sight…remember when the house was built MANY years ago…there was nothing but the Silo’s near there. It was out in the country!

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  16. I teach Behind-the-Wheel driving lessons in this area and drive by the castle at least twice a week. It is absolutely fascinating! I would love to see the interior, but would never dream of asking them. It’s a landmark and the area kids have told me that many different stories exist about its origins, however the most popular one is where the man told his wife that one day he’d treat her like a queen and build her a castle. Lovely story that goes along with a lovely home!

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  17. In 2006, my (now) husband and I were driving dump trucks for a local job and we traveled by the castle numerous times a day. Well long story short, he proposed to me on the side of the road in front of the beautiful castle.

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  18. My friend’s grandparents were the ones who lived in this castle. I spent many summer days here. MeeMaw and Pawpaw are very nice and loving. It is not subterranean and to add any interest you may have, in this home, the rooms are all circular. Mr. McLaughlin actually built this house for his wife. If it’s still standing, in the back, the moat joins in the back and forms a pool. There are spiral staircases that lead to the top where a diving board is. I loved this place. Reminds me so much of my childhood.

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  19. There are no underground quarters. This is quite simply a 2 bedroom 2 bath home. It has a center courtyard in front center. The mote is about 3ft deep and is an extension of the pool. The other rooms are a living room, dining room and kitchen. There us a huge garage and the garage door let’s up and down like a drawbridge. Rudy is of Scottish heritage. Visited there saw a castle and decided he wanted a small one. No mystery here. He built it himself.

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  20. this is off of the tax map and assessors page.. it says no basement and no attic.. 1 story….Card 1 Stories 1 Exterior Wall ASBESTOS Style SPECIAL Year 1950 Built Res Sq Ft 1962 Basement NONE Total Bsmt Sqft Finished Bsmt Sqft Total Rooms 6 Bedrooms 2 Full Bath/Half Bath 2/0 Attic NONE

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  21. yes they actually do open like drawbridges its pretty sweet! the old mans wife always wanted to live in a castle so he built it for her. thats the story or atleast from what ive heard, ive lived off cagle (the same road it is on) for 15 years and drive by the house everyday.

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  22. Best landmark in Roswell/Alpharetta (akin to the Big Chicken in Marietta)! When I was going to school at Roswell High in the 70’s, “The Castle” was the only thing built out there (oh – and the silos). The Castle sat half finished for years. The wrought iron fence used to be 8′-10′ high as were the stone pillars for the fence (they still had the gnomes sitting on top :-) ). The fence has been lowered several times, I’m assuming due to city building codes or something. They used to have a big floating pool toy (maybe a penquin?) that would circle the moat.

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  23. I grew up in this area and remember well when this place was built, so I though you might enjoy hearing what we learned about it at the time, back in the 1980s. If you think it’s a curiosity now, just imagine all the buzz when it was being built. I was a teenager at the time and my family and I actually walked through the “castle” just as they were completing the construction. Unless there was some VERY well hidden passage way, there is no “man cave.” Actually there isn’t even a basement. When we walked through it appeared to be completed with the exception of fixtures, cabinets, flooring etc. Only the final touches were left. I remember, our general consensus was, “Wow, it’s really tiny for a castle.” Local news paper stories said that the husband, upon retiring from his trucking career, asked his wife, if she could have anything on earth what would it be? Her answer, she wanted to be a queen in her own castle. So he built her one.

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  24. I am now 36 years old and can remember this castle from my earliest childhood memories. We lived in Norcross and regularly drove to my grandparents in Canton. We would always get excited when we passed by “the castle.” I always remember it there, for me it’s just a really cool landmark.

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  25. Once upon a time a young man fell in love w a beautiful woman. He asked her to marry him. He said if u marry me I will build u a castle and make u my queen. He did just that.

    Ive lived here my whole life. 28 yrs. Such a sweet story.

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  26. Thanks, Don! I was busy looking up the tax records too! Someone said that it was built in the 80’s. I knew this could not be correct because it was there when I was a child(I was born in 1950) and the area was very rural. We would drive by when on the way to Lenox Square to shop from Cherokee County! I love the place!

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  27. That is a great story. I would love to see the house but my wife can not handle the driving any more Thanks for the pictures, the story and all of the comments. I love it! Gerry in Florida

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  28. I grew up here and have passed this home more times than I could even begin to count. I’ve always been curious as to the story behind it and what the inside looks like.

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  29. I drive by this house all the time on Hwy 140. They are a normal family. From what I heard, the guy wanted to build a castle for his wife. I think its a two bedroom. I mean its a small castle but how many husbands out there will dare to be different and build a castle for his wife? I think its quite romantic. I think the house is cute. It’s a little out of the norm but hey, we live in America. This is their dream. Everybody has a dream. I think it reminds us all of our childhood stories of big castles we all wanted to live in. I’m glad we have the freedom to be different. :)

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