The little Alabama town of Fairhope, located on Mobile Bay, has always been pretty magical, and then there are the castles.
Nestled four blocks from the heart of town, the complex of fairytale residences began out of necessity. In 1946, Craig Sheldon moved his family to Fairhope and began building what was planned as a garage, workshop and laundry room. Matters soon escalated, and the building now known as Sheldon Castle took shape. During this time, Sheldon was on a shoestring budget. Necessity was the mother of invention; he brought home materials from his work in the construction business, including roofing shingles in a variety of colors. The house was built of tile from nearby Clay City, and the exterior walls were covered with stone hauled from Mobile Bay. The walls were embellished with found objects including bottles, tools and cookware.
Sheldon didn’t stop there. He had always wanted a round room, and in the 1950s his son Craig Jr. assisted in building a tower containing three rooms, the uppermost of which became the office where Sheldon wrote plays and a newspaper column.
Fast-forward to the 1970s, when Sheldon’s daughter Pagan married Dean Mosher. The Moshers bought land next to the Sheldons, constructed a bridge (occasionally complete with troll) connecting the two properties, and started work on their own fairytale dwelling, today known as Mosher Castle. In addition to a tower, the Mosher dwelling features a drawbridge, moat, and Hendrix the Dragon, who peers from a turret. Many of the features of Sheldon Castle inspired Mosher. The wall tile and stone facing are both from local sources, and set among the exterior stones are pieces of glass and pottery along with objects from around the world, including fragments of the Berlin Wall. The castle also serves as studio and office space for Dean, an internationally-known historical artist, and Pagan, a retired professional dancer who now runs Storybook Castles AirBnB.
The third castle in the little kingdom is known as Boom Castle and was built by the Boom family, longtime friends of the Craigs and Moshers. Among Boom Castle’s hobbitlike touches is the seven-foot, round red dragon door.
The Castles are private residences, but Sheldon Castle now features a studio apartment available via AirBnB for guests who want to experience the magic firsthand. Tours for groups and professional photo shoots can be arranged by appointment.
For more information on the Fairhope Storybook Castles and AirBnB, please visit www.fairhopecastle.com
Photos courtesy Fairhope Storybook Castles