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Bavarian-style castle for sale near Ste. Genevieve

Bavarian-style castle for sale near Ste. Genevieve

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ST. MARY, Mo. • For 35 years, Guenter Foerster kept his Bavarian-style castle hidden from the public behind a thick stand of trees near Ste. Genevieve.

Foerster, 76, said he wanted it that way. He’s enjoyed the peacefulness and the chance to observe the deer, beaver and eagles that inhabit the acreage on Brushy Creek Road.

But five years ago, he began opening up his home to outsiders; he no longer had the energy to maintain the property, which includes a 7,000-square-foot estate featuring lead-glass windows, hand-painted ceilings, wood-carved staircases and three fireplaces massive enough to roast a hog.

“I’m trying to sell it; do you know anyone with any money?” he joked in a thick German accent.

His real estate agent, Bridget Neichter, said the property could be a country estate for one or several families, a bed and breakfast, a corporate retreat, a health spa or a winery.

“It’s in the heart of wine country — Cave, Chaumette, Charleville and Crown Valley,” Neichter said. “Now we need the Castle Winery to have five wineries beginning with ‘C.’”

Despite the possibilities, the property has been a tough sell not only because of the market but because it’s about 90 minutes from St. Louis — a half hour too far — Neichter said.

The property has been for sale since 2009. Originally it was listed at $3.2 million and included nearly 700 acres.

But after a series of failed contracts — the last one by a group of German investors who wanted to turn the property into a beer garden — Foerster sold off some of the farmland.

Buyers now can choose from two options. The first includes the castle, a 20-acre stocked lake, stables and 100 acres for $850,000. The second includes everything in the first option plus a rustic lodge and an additional 272 acres for $1.5 million. A donkey and a horse come with the property. Antiques, including an Oldsmobile Comet and farm equipment, are negotiable.

Foerster came to the United States from Cologne, Germany, 60 years ago. He wasn’t much of a scholar, he said, but he started a company that made after-market car parts out of his Sunset Hills home, and he said he got lucky.

He bought the Ste. Genevieve County property in the early 1970s because he liked the lake view. He tore down the old home with the metal roof and started work on a chateau modeled loosely after the one in the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock movie “Rebecca.”

Foerster, said he did it simply because he admired the architecture. He used skills he learned at his machine shop, which now is in Arnold, to make some of the designs.

“It’s the same process used with machinery, only in carpentry, you make it out of wood,” he said.

Foerster said after he found someone interested in doing the woodwork, he’d make the first piece and give it to him as a model.

He also made latex molds for the design on the terra cotta fireplace and for the plaster lions and gargoyles that adorn the inside and outside of the home.

Foerster said he kept costs down by not having a general contractor and by using local materials, such as the creek rocks that cover the outside of the castle.

He doesn’t recall how much he spent building it, and that is partly because the castle wasn’t always so grand, he said. Foerster originally built the center of the home and then added on several wings over the years.

Foerster’s favorite room is the great room, one of the later additions. It features a wooden staircase and two-story windows that provide a prime view of sunsets on the lake.

Foerster said he still doesn’t consider the home finished. He had planned to build a deck off the great room that resembles the bow of a ship.

“All I have to do is do it, but it’s too much now,” he said.

Foerster and his wife, Rita, who is in failing health, had no children. They rarely entertained, he said.

The home is filled with bronze statues, medieval shields, swords, armor and models of ships. Some German touches include the exposed wood framing on the front of building and the stained glass windows with a German adage that advises drinking beer before wine.

“My dad used to say that all the time,” Foerster said.

Other interesting touches include three cylindrical lights from the old Apollo Art Theatre in St. Louis.

Foerster has spurned any idea of turning the mansion into a hunting lodge because he has never killed an animal. The taxidermy in his home is from critters Foerster said he found dead on the side of the road and had stuffed.

As the months have passed, though, he’s come to terms with the possibility that it might be converted into hunting lodge.

“I wouldn’t like it, but I can’t prevent people from doing what they want to do,” he said.

He’s ready to downsize and let his castle fill someone else’s dream.

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