Waco’s Castle set for ‘Fixer Upper’ treatment in new Gaineses TV series | Story

Waco royal couple Sir Chip and Lady Joanna seek the pleasure of your company in September, when their Magnolia Network begins airing eight episodes chronicling their renovation of Cottonland Castle.

The Gaineses acquired the historic structure at 3300 Austin Ave. in February 2019, after an antiquities specialist pulled out of renovating the 19th-century stone and wood structure to the satisfaction of the Texas Historical Commission. The Gaineses have long professed their admiration for the imposing 6,700 square foot building that has been owned by many over the years. Chip Gaines’ bids were apparently always lower than the others.

But that all changed three years ago, when the couple best known for “Fixer Upper” and Magnolia Market at the Silos stormed the castle and made it their own. That they paid the asking price of $425,000, perhaps only they know. They obtained planning permission on July 14, 2021, determined to repair the imperfections that a 130-year-old structure is likely to suffer.

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This process and many more may appear on “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home – The Castle,” which fans may consider the Gaines’ definitive makeover.

The news that Castle will become a national star is already making waves.

Kendall Wood, operations manager at Waco Tours, said the castle has become a regular stop on daily city excursions. Customers love the stories about its history, often jumping out of the van to take pictures.

“Since they bought it, we had assumed there would be a TV show about it. We saw camera crews outside,” Wood said. historic landmark for Waco, and I’m confident it will be restored to its former glory.I’m a resident of Castle Heights, and it’s great to see it in good hands.

The castle resides in the Castle Heights neighborhood, just off Franklin Avenue in the city center. The tight-knit community boasts stately homes on large lots, quiet streets and a protective nature, having gathered at Waco City Hall in the 1990s to protest attempts to turn the castle into a bed-and-breakfast inn. and breakfast.

Waco realtor Towne Adams, who resides at 2912 Austin Ave., said he was a longtime member of the Austin Avenue Neighborhood Association. He is impressed with what Chip and Joanna have done with the castle.

“The wet cleaning of the stone…it looks really good,” he said. “They even cleaned the fence. They also install a sprinkler system or replace it. I don’t know what they’ll do with it when they’re done. Present it, of course. I guess it’s the most recognized house in Waco.”

The teams working for Les Gaines have already cleaned the limestone of the castle and its doors.

Rod Aydelotte, Tribun-Herald

John W. Erwin General Contractor, a long-established Waco company, is the general contractor for the project. The company said Thursday it would have no comment.

K. Paul Holt, president of the Associated General Contractors of America office in Waco, said John W. Erwin and Magnolia entered into a nondisclosure agreement preventing the contractor from discussing the project.

Holt said he lives near the castle and likes to follow progress.

“It’s fun to watch. I’ve been watching it for 33 years now,” Holt said, referring to his long exposure to the castle’s ongoing transformation.

He said Magnolia has a good reputation for using local contractors, which is good news given its long list of tasks. It is converting the former Tribune-Herald building at Ninth Street and Franklin Avenue into the headquarters of Magnolia, a $21 million project the Waco City Council approved this week for $1.2 million in economic development incentives and an additional $2.6 million in Tax Increase Funding Area No. 1 Funding Assistance.

The City of Waco recently issued a building permit worth $18 million to begin the renovation, according to the AGC Bulletin.

As part of its incentive program, Magnolia has agreed to use social media platforms to help the city and county promote the community to people looking to move, while also working to recruit businesses and industries.

Bobby Horner, spokesman for the City of Waco Department of Inspection Services, said Magnolia construction plans related to the castle renovation made the rounds with city departments several months ago. He said city inspectors visit the castle regularly, as they would for any project.

“It’s a historic building, so they’re not allowed to do much to alter it structurally,” Horner said. “I don’t know how many times our guys go there, but it’s a slow and tedious process. I know Magnolia found a way to clean up the exterior, and it looks much better, much cleaner.


The City of Waco recently issued a building permit worth $18 million to begin renovations to Cottonland Castle, according to a local newsletter from Associated General Contractors of America.

Rod Aydelotte, Tribun-Herald

The stone castle, which was started in 1890 and completed as a home for businessman Alfred Abeel around 1913, is a state historic landmark with a marker near the front driveway to prove it. It has been vacant for more than 20 years despite several efforts to renovate it, the Tribune-Herald reported.

Dirk Obbink, an Oxford University classic who lived in England and occasionally lectured at Baylor University, owned the castle before the Gaines bought it. He hoped to fix its many flaws, including water damage, rotting woodwork, outdated electrical and plumbing systems, and stained exterior.

Add in other upgrades outlined by Waco architect Sterling Thompson and the Texas Historical Commission, and the to-do list would have pushed renovation costs between $600,000 and $1 million. The lineup would have depended on whether or not to include a new food preparation and dining area, said Tom Lupfer Jr., who has been involved in several large-scale renovations locally and signed a three-year contract in 2016. to complete the castle challenge.

A site visit on Thursday revealed no sign of a pool filled with filthy water and surrounded by a rickety fence that was visible in February 2019, when the Gaineses purchased the property. On Thursday, several people were laying out the grounds and a flower garden out back looked freshly planted.

Carla Pendergraft, who markets the Waco Convention Center and tracks local tourist attractions, said Thursday she thinks the castle’s appearance on the Magnolia Network should spark renewed interest in the building.

“We noticed that fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines started taking selfies at Cottonland Castle as soon as it became known the couple had purchased it,” she said in an email response. mail to the Tribune-Herald. “Film tourism brings significant numbers of people to Waco, as well as a positive economic impact through their stays in hotels, restaurants and in the shopping district.”

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