Kelley castle

photo credit: Arleen Kelley

photo credit: Arleen Kelley

Recently I received the following email:
Dear Sarah
I share your interest in homes. I have a project I expect you will find interesting. It is not complete but far enough along you can see where it’s going.
– Pete Kelley
photo credit: Arleen Kelley

photo credit: Arleen Kelley

Tell me more!

My project is about 60 miles NW of Wausau, Wisconsin – north of a little town called Tomahawk on Lake Killarney. The lake itself is an interesting story. My great grandfather settled there about 1890 and his son Pete built the dam which created the lake. I inherited the property.
photo c

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

Did you build the castle all by yourself?
I did build what is completed. Not completely alone. I hire people who have special skills or equipment. Plumbing and setting precast are good examples.
photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

I have had help from friends and family when I have asked. Of course I do that sparingly or they would stop answering their phone.
photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

I’m an electrician which has put me in a position be involved with other trades as well as all phases of building.
photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

How long have you been working on this thing?

In 1987 I began clearing the land, work on the road and the septic. hauling stone.
surveying. I started work on the building about 5 years later.
photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kalley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

(That’s Willy the helper dog with the family crest in the background.)
photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

Why did you undertake such a massive project?
The ‘why’, I could give a long explanation and explain the evolution of thought but basically I was inspired and by age 19 I had mentally committed myself to it. I didn’t start for another 10 years using the time to make drawings, research, and plan.
photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

 In 2012 we poured several yards by hand. That was a big group effort.
Pete can be seen below with his hard working friends. (Pete is the one in the beige shirt underneath the chandelier) 
photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

What’s on top of the tower?
An outdoor kitchen. There is a refrigerator under the counter and it is pretty much above the bugs with a nice view.
kitchen on castle roof
The entire tower was encased in scaffold, I’ll guess 7 years, while it was being built.
photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

The base of each turret weighs about 2000 pounds and took 2 guys 3 days to do each. they are poured in place. I made a steel form that weighs about 400 pounds. We spent one day to assemble the form, level and anchor it. A day moving material and a day running the little mixer and filling it.
Is Kelley Castle open to the public?
We open it once a year during the ‘Tomahawk Fall Ride‘ which is a large motorcycle rally.
Kelley Castle
Although Pete stressed that the castle is nowhere near done – it needs finishing on the inside – I had to ask: Do you plan on living in the castle when it is finished?
photo credit: Arlene Kelley

photo credit: Arlene Kelley

I spend as much time as I can there. I’d like to do weddings and events there when I’m ready.

I wouldn’t mind putting Halloween on the map but I have mixed feelings on that. When I started I envisioned adult Halloween but as I get older I start thinking more of a kids Halloween. That’s undecided.
I’d be there today if I didn’t have to work 😉

6 Comments

  • Sue says:

    Thank you Pete for sharing Kelley Castle with Sarah. I enjoyed seeing all the photos and reading your inspiring story of how you built the castle over the years. Love the family crest; gotta have one of those of course. Christmas at the Castle seems like a lovely idea too.

  • Renee says:

    That is spectacular, I really enjoyed the story behind this and the pictures of the progress. Thank you for sharing Pete, and for posting Sarah!

  • Roger L. says:

    I have been there. It really is awesome. Hope he gets it done before his body says stop. I know his mind never will.

  • I have been there as well. It is amazing. He didn’t mention that in the summer it is pretty much surrounded by water, so he moves the bigger stuff out there only in the winter when the lake is frozen. In the summer, the main route in is across a long, narrow – I can’t even call it a bridge – more like a series of planks.
    More pictures on my blog. http://chrisloehmer.blogspot.com/2012/09/romancing-past.html

  • Stephanie Snyder says:

    How can I contact for a special visit? I am a summer immersion student at Taliesin (Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture) I will not be here in September, I was hoping I could come visit between 6/13/15 and 6/20/15.
    We are working on building playhouses for local kids here, my kids asked me to build them a castle I was thinking I’d drive them up there to check this one out!
    Please email me & let me know the best way to contact you.

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