Castle finds home on Lake Pend Oreille
A view of Castle Von Frandsen, owned by Kris Von Frandsen, who recently put the 8,000-square-foot castle up for sale.
(Photo by CAROLINE LOBSINGER)
Kris Frandsen, pictured at left, follows a member of the Sandpoint Renaissance Faire group through a tunnel leading to the dock at Castle Von Frandsen.
A statue at Castle Von Frandsen.
One of the gargoyle statues adding atmosphere at Castle Von Frandsen.
An archway on the grounds of Castle Von Frandsen.
A view of Lake Pend Oreille from the top floor of Castle Von Frandsen.
A suit of armor stands guard in the main hallway, a space that would have served as the great hall in a medieval castle.
A curved stone stairway leading down to the tunnel entrance of the castle.
A view of the castle's arched windows and stonework.
A view of a viewing tower from Castle Von Fransen. Constructed by the History Channel for the current owner as a gift, the tower provides stunning views of Lake Pend Oreille.
Beams used in the castle's construction were hewn on site.
A gargoyle decorates Castle Von Frandsen.
A view of Lake Pend Oreille from the top floor of Castle Von Frandsen.
Architect's renderings of what the grounds of Castle Von Frandsen could look like once completed.
A member of the Sandpoint Renaissance Faire waits for guests to arrive at Castle Von Frandsen during a recent event.
A view of Csstle Von Frandsen.
Built as an authentic castle, Castle Von Frandsen sits perched on a cliff on the banks of Lake Pend Oreille.
A statue of a knight on horseback adds ambience at Castle Von Frandsen.
Castle Von Frandsen can be seen through an arched window of a tower built by the History Channel for the current owner of the castle, Kris Frandsen.
Lake Pend Oreille can be seen in the background as Castle Von Frandsen sits perched on a 70-foot cliff in the Bottle Bay area.
A view of the outside of Castle Von Frandsen.
Architect's renderings give a sense of how the castle could look once finished.
Tanya Anderson of the Sandpoint Renaissance Faire group poses for a photo in an arch on the Castle Von Frandsen grounds.
A view of the first floor of Castle Von Frandsen.
A suit of armor adorns the hall at Castle Von Frandsen.
A serpentine wall snakes through the grounds of Castle Von Frandsen.
A member of the Sandpoint Renaissance Faire welcomes guests to a gala event at the castle.
A view of Castle Von Frandsen from Lake Pend Oreille.
A view of inside a turret on the grounds into of Castle Von Frandsen in the Bottle Bay area.
A view of the tunnel leading into of Castle Von Frandsen.
Staff Writer | July 10, 2022 1:00 AM
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SAGLE — He can see it in his mind.
Kris Frandsen, who owns what is known as Castle Von Frandsen near Bottle Bay on Lake Pend Oreille, said he and friends were in the tunnel leading to the towering stone structure and playing music. The sound echoed off the massive, two-foot-thick walls and danced across the waters as nearby boats paused to listen.
He remembers playing to the firelight as his two children pounded 2-by-4's together as percussion instruments. It's those memories that he will hold close to his heart when it comes time to say goodbye to the castle that he has spent the last 18 years building.
"Fires at midnight. Playing music," Frandsen said. "Just fires and the kids all together, night after night. They would hit two by fours together for percussion, with whatever they could make sounds with. My favorite, favorite memories are of being in the tower, of boats out front, listening to us play."
But, with his children now in their 20s and living in another state, Frandsen said it became more important to spend time with them than to keep the castle.
Frandsen has always loved the medieval period, and dreamed of owning a castle. His first home, in Washington state, resembled a castle. But when it came to building his home on Lake Pend Oreille, Frandsen said he didn't want it to just look like a castle, he wanted it to be a castle.
"I've always been into medieval [things]," he said. I've always been into castles, period."
Frandsen said there really isn't anything he doesn't like about the time period.
"I just love it all," said Frandsen, who lives in Spokane and sells medical equipment. "I love the attire. I love the horse. I love the music. I could go on and on. I just love it all."
Frandsen, who loves music and plays, said there is something magical about the acoustics of music bouncing off the stone. That is why he said the tunnel is probably his favorite part of the castle.
"The tunnel, honestly, is probably my favorite," he said, then laughs. "That and the battlement walls because they kept my kids safe."
His children love the castle, but their lives are pulling them elsewhere, and they can't make it back to Bonner County that often.
Von Frandsen Castle, as owner Kris Frandsen refers to it, was designed with Lego bricks with builder Roger DeClements of CastleMagic. And, for the past 18 years, he and DeClements have worked to bring that vision to life.
Some years they paused for the winter, but others they kept on despite the short construction season. While the castle isn't yet complete, Frandsen estimates it's 75% to 80% done.
"It's closer than it's ever been," he said, before chuckling.
All of the logs, both the fir and the cedar, that were used in construction are from the property. Some of the five different types of stone come from the property, some from a quarry in British Columbia in Canada. As in castles built in the Renaissance and medieval periods, stone serves as both the outside and inside walls. Traditional construction methods were used, with no modern cranes or technology. Scaffolding kept the construction authentic and care was taken to ensure construction was as green as possible.
With walls that are two feet thick (and filled with insulation, rebar, conduit, and concrete), Frandsen said the structure stays cool in the summer but stores heat as the fireplaces warm the stone.
Before he decided to sell the castle, Frandsen said few people even knew he had owned a castle — much less one that is as authentic as they come and would fit right into the 13th or 15th centuries.
When a friend who knew Frandsen called and asked if Brenda Burk wanted to help sell "The Castle," she said she knew exactly what they were talking about. She also knew she was going to say yes.
She'd watched the place slowly take shape over the past 18 years and said she was excited to help the castle find its next owner.
"It's been a labor of love," Burk, who works at Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty, said of her conversations with Frandsen and why he wanted to build the castle. "It was his childhood dream to own a castle."
With the structure of the castle completed, the building could be anything anyone wants it to be — a home, a bed and breakfast, a hotel or entertainment facility. The options really are limitless, Burk said.
Situated on a 10-acre lot, Burk said the next owner could even build a modern home next door and keep the castle as authentic as they wish.
The castle is over 8,000 square feet and is designed to be a two-bedroom, two bath residence, with a master suite on the middle level and a master suite and entertainment area on the top. A kitchen and living space fill the entry level — which comes complete with a tunnel and stream running underneath. The level with the tunnel has a plunge pool and a planned round turret to the side of the main castle can be completed to add guest suites and a great room to the site.
"It depends on how large and elaborate that you want to make it because it could be twice as big," Burk said. "You can make it whatever you want."
While the place doesn't have modern heating — Frandsen wanted it to be authentic to the time period, it does have electricity and modern plumbing.
The castle sits on the lake, and has both boat access and road access. The biggest things left, Burk said, are the finishing touches on the inside, landscaping and improving the driveway.
"This [place] is so amazing, but it's so difficult to get across that it's not a look-alike castle," Burk said. "It IS a castle."
One day when Frandsen was in Sandpoint, he stopped in at one of the art galleries where he spied a painting of his castle, Burk said. The shopkeeper asked he what he thought of it, asking if he knew the inspiration was a real castle across the lake.
Yes, Frandsen told the person, he knew of the castle. He bought the painting, but never told the person he not only knew of the castle, but that he owned it as well.
Frandsen said he hopes the next owner of the castle will keep it as authentic as possible, and hopes that it will be loved by them as much as it has been by him. He hopes it is a fellow medievalist, who will honor what he set out to accomplish, honor the craftsmanship created by hand, honor the labor of love that the castle has been.
"It's really not about the money as much it's about as giving it to somebody who is going to cherish it," he added.
It will always have a place in his heart, always be a source of special memories.
"It's really a magical place," Frandsen said.