'Fixer Upper' stars Chip and Joanna Gaines bought a 129-year-old castle worth almost half a million dollars in Texas, and photos show why it may be their most challenging renovation yet

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The historic 129-year-old German-style castle, known as Cottonland Castle, in Waco, Texas, could be Chip and Joanna Gaineses' most challenging renovation yet.

The historic 129-year-old German-style castle, known as Cottonland Castle, in Waco, Texas, could be Chip and Joanna Gaineses' most challenging renovation yet.

Source: Realtor

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Chip and Joanna Gaines started flipping homes shortly after marrying in 2003 and had been renovating homes for a whole decade before HGTV came along.

Chip and Joanna Gaines started flipping homes shortly after marrying in 2003 and had been renovating homes for a whole decade before HGTV came along.

Read more about what life is like for Chip and Joanna Gaines

Source: Money

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On their hit show "Fixer Upper," they specialized in transforming homes from drabby, outdated structures ...

On their hit show "Fixer Upper," they specialized in transforming homes from drabby, outdated structures ...

Source: HGTV

... into contemporary abodes of the 21st century.

... into contemporary abodes of the 21st century.

Source: HGTV

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Their renovation finesse is showcased in the couple's Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco. In 2015, they transformed the once-abandoned site into a shopping center that sells, among many things, baked goods and home decor items in line with Joanna's signature modern style.

Their renovation finesse is showcased in the couple's Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco. In 2015, they transformed the once-abandoned site into a shopping center that sells, among many things, baked goods and home decor items in line with Joanna's signature modern style.

Source: Business Insider

Their home improvement experience has helped them amass a vast following — and fortune ...

Their home improvement experience has helped them amass a vast following — and fortune ...

Source: Business Insider

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... and they're no strangers to giving some much-needed TLC to deteriorated homes.

... and they're no strangers to giving some much-needed TLC to deteriorated homes.

Source: Business Insider

But the historic Cottonland Castle provides a unique challenge for the couple. Sitting in the heart of the Texas town of Waco, where the Gaineses live ...

But the historic Cottonland Castle provides a unique challenge for the couple. Sitting in the heart of the Texas town of Waco, where the Gaineses live ...
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... the property is such a notable landmark in town that the nearby neighborhood of Castle Heights was named after it. All eyes are on the Gaineses to see what they'll do with the property.

... the property is such a notable landmark in town that the nearby neighborhood of Castle Heights was named after it. All eyes are on the Gaineses to see what they'll do with the property.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

Lupfer, a contractor that previously worked on the castle, told Business Insider that the home was unoccupied for 12 years before he started working on it for the previous owner in 2014.

Lupfer, a contractor that previously worked on the castle, told Business Insider that the home was unoccupied for 12 years before he started working on it for the previous owner in 2014.
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And so it fell into disrepair in the interim, he said.

And so it fell into disrepair in the interim, he said.

"Unoccupied houses do not do well," Lupfer told Business Insider.

"Unoccupied houses do not do well," Lupfer told Business Insider.
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Water damage, rotten woodwork, outdated electrical and plumbing systems, and a worn stone facade are just some of the issues plaguing the castle.

Water damage, rotten woodwork, outdated electrical and plumbing systems, and a worn stone facade are just some of the issues plaguing the castle.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

Other things that need addressing include extensive cleaning, stone restoring, and dealing with issues with the pool and pool house in the backyard, he said.

Other things that need addressing include extensive cleaning, stone restoring, and dealing with issues with the pool and pool house in the backyard, he said.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

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According to Lupfer, the original kitchen was in the basement, and a dumbwaiter was used to bring food up to the main floor.

According to Lupfer, the original kitchen was in the basement, and a dumbwaiter was used to bring food up to the main floor.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

Lupfer said constructing a full-sized kitchen on another floor from the basement was apart of the restoration plan.

Lupfer said constructing a full-sized kitchen on another floor from the basement was apart of the restoration plan.

Source: Business Insider

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But he said he never got around to starting on it.

But he said he never got around to starting on it.

Another challenge, the Gaineses' renovations have to be approved by the Texas Historical Commission, since Cottonland Castle, named after Waco's rich history in the cotton industry, became a historical landmark in 1977.

Another challenge, the Gaineses' renovations have to be approved by the Texas Historical Commission, since Cottonland Castle, named after Waco's rich history in the cotton industry, became a historical landmark in 1977.

Source: Waco History

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But hurdles aside, the castle is undoubtedly a charming find.

But hurdles aside, the castle is undoubtedly a charming find.

It has the potential to hold three bedrooms and two full bathrooms, according to the listing.

It has the potential to hold three bedrooms and two full bathrooms, according to the listing.

Source: Realtor

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It also has a whopping eight fireplaces.

It also has a whopping eight fireplaces.

Source: Realtor

One of them is carved out of pink granite ...

One of them is carved out of pink granite ...

Source: Waco History and Realtor

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... while another was carved from French Caen stone.

... while another was carved from French Caen stone.

Source: Waco History and Realtor

Lupfer told Business Insider that homes outfitted with eight fireplaces aren't typical nowadays, but they're "not out of the ordinary," considering that's how homes built in 1890 were heated.

Lupfer told Business Insider that homes outfitted with eight fireplaces aren't typical nowadays, but they're "not out of the ordinary," considering that's how homes built in 1890 were heated.
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Other materials added to the interior in the early 1900s include Italian Carrara marble ...

Other materials added to the interior in the early 1900s include Italian Carrara marble ...

Source: Waco History

... and Honduran mahogany paneling.

... and Honduran mahogany paneling.

Source: Waco History

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There are also diamond-paned windows circa the Arts & Crafts design era of the early 1900s.

There are also diamond-paned windows circa the Arts & Crafts design era of the early 1900s.

Source: Arts and Crafts Houses

Each piece of glass needed to be removed, glazed, and re-installed, which was a project of Lupfer's during his time restoring the castle.

Each piece of glass needed to be removed, glazed, and re-installed, which was a project of Lupfer's during his time restoring the castle.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

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"We chose to take the originals and, piece by piece, we rebuilt 75 to 85% of all the windows in the house," Lupfer said.

"We chose to take the originals and, piece by piece, we rebuilt 75 to 85% of all the windows in the house," Lupfer said.

Lupfer and his team also took care to preserve the castle's quarter-sawn oak detailing, which is also a characteristic of the Arts & Crafts design era.

Lupfer and his team also took care to preserve the castle's quarter-sawn oak detailing, which is also a characteristic of the Arts & Crafts design era.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald and The Barnyard Gazette

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The front door is a striking feature in the home.

The front door is a striking feature in the home.

The 9-foot-high door is made of oak and weighs a whopping 400 pounds, according to the listing.

The 9-foot-high door is made of oak and weighs a whopping 400 pounds, according to the listing.

Source: Realtor

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But as beautiful as these original features are, there's still a lot of work to be done, according to Lupfer.

But as beautiful as these original features are, there's still a lot of work to be done, according to Lupfer.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

When Waco architect Sterling Thompson took on restoring the castle in 2014 with Lupfer when it was purchased by Oxford scholar Dirk Obbink ...

When Waco architect Sterling Thompson took on restoring the castle in 2014 with Lupfer when it was purchased by Oxford scholar Dirk Obbink ...

Source: Waco History

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... Thompson outlined an extensive renovation plan, which was approved by the Texas Historical Commission.

... Thompson outlined an extensive renovation plan, which was approved by the Texas Historical Commission.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

Lupfer said that their biggest tasks were to secure the castle against vandals and weather conditions.

Lupfer said that their biggest tasks were to secure the castle against vandals and weather conditions.
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"That was no small chore by itself," Lupfer said.

"That was no small chore by itself," Lupfer said.

But the extent of the restoration proved to be too much of a financial investment, which prompted Obbink to sell.

But the extent of the restoration proved to be too much of a financial investment, which prompted Obbink to sell.

Source: Waco History

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Lupfer said that the Gaineses won't necessarily follow the same restoration plan that he and Thompson had set in motion.

Lupfer said that the Gaineses won't necessarily follow the same restoration plan that he and Thompson had set in motion.

But he estimated the cost for the needed restorations to be around $600,000 to $1 million, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.

But he estimated the cost for the needed restorations to be around $600,000 to $1 million, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

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Undaunted by the work needed, the Gaineses have reportedly wanted this property for a while now.

Undaunted by the work needed, the Gaineses have reportedly wanted this property for a while now.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

According to public records, the property was listed for sale for $425,000 in February and was scooped up by the Gaineses after just days on the market.

According to public records, the property was listed for sale for $425,000 in February and was scooped up by the Gaineses after just days on the market.

Source: Zillow

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A Magnolia spokesman confirmed the sale to the Waco Tribune-Herald, stating that the couple has not only held a long-time admiration for the property but have even tried to buy it in the past.

A Magnolia spokesman confirmed the sale to the Waco Tribune-Herald, stating that the couple has not only held a long-time admiration for the property but have even tried to buy it in the past.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

Their spokesman also confirmed that the Gaineses' plan was to complete "the home's long overdue and well-deserved restoration."

Their spokesman also confirmed that the Gaineses' plan was to complete "the home's long overdue and well-deserved restoration."

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

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But it's not yet clear exactly how they plan to utilize the historic landmark.

But it's not yet clear exactly how they plan to utilize the historic landmark.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

The idea of the pair turning it into a bed and breakfast has reportedly been floated, but past owners have toyed with the same idea before, which prompted pushback from neighbors.

The idea of the pair turning it into a bed and breakfast has reportedly been floated, but past owners have toyed with the same idea before, which prompted pushback from neighbors.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

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In the past, the castle has mostly served as a personal residence.

In the past, the castle has mostly served as a personal residence.

Source: Waco History

A local stone contractor named John Tennant began constructing the home for himself in 1890 before eventually abandoning the project in 1908.

A local stone contractor named John Tennant began constructing the home for himself in 1890 before eventually abandoning the project in 1908.

Source: Waco History

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In 1913, a businessman named Alfred Abeel purchased the home and hired a local investor to pick up where Tennant left off. The German-style castle began to take shape during this time.

In 1913, a businessman named Alfred Abeel purchased the home and hired a local investor to pick up where Tennant left off. The German-style castle began to take shape during this time.

Source: Waco History

The Pipkin family, who owned a southwest chain of drugstores of the same name, purchased the castle in 1941 before it eventually passed to a local church. The church then sold it to the Schwan family in 1969 for $50,000.

The Pipkin family, who owned a southwest chain of drugstores of the same name, purchased the castle in 1941 before it eventually passed to a local church. The church then sold it to the Schwan family in 1969 for $50,000.

Source: Waco History

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The castle was in need of some renovations, which the Schwan family undertook.

The castle was in need of some renovations, which the Schwan family undertook.

Source: Waco History

The family then tried to sell the castle for $1.25 million in 1982, a lofty price that spooked buyers at the time. It finally sold in 1991 after a price cut.

The family then tried to sell the castle for $1.25 million in 1982, a lofty price that spooked buyers at the time. It finally sold in 1991 after a price cut.

Source: Waco History

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The period following is when the castle began to deteriorate.

The period following is when the castle began to deteriorate.

Source: Waco History

So it looks like the Gaineses certainly have their work cut out for them ...

So it looks like the Gaineses certainly have their work cut out for them ...
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... but then again, this kind of work is exactly what the "Fixer Upper" power couple has built an $18 million empire out of.

... but then again, this kind of work is exactly what the "Fixer Upper" power couple has built an $18 million empire out of.

Source: Business Insider