This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.
During a recent trip to NW Arkansas, Greg and I enjoyed a wonderful overnight experience at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. After leaving the sanctuary the next morning, we decided to stop at Quigley’s Castle, located a short distance from Turpentine Creek, and on our way home anyway.
I’m so glad we did! This unique property was well worth the nominal fee to explore the house and gardens.
How unique is Quigley’s Castle?
I’ve never seen anything like it!
A Woman’s Dream Home
Elise Fioravanti moved to the Ozarks as a young girl in 1919. Walking to and from school each day, she collected pretty or interesting rocks that caught her interest.
When she was 18 years old, Elise married Albert Quigley. He owned a nearby farm and lumber mill. After their marriage, Albert moved Elise’s rock collection to their home, a three room lumber shack. The hard working husband promised his bride a home someday, built from the lumber cut off of their land.
Over the years five children joined Elise and Albert in their tiny shack. She grew impatient waiting for the promise of a bigger house to be fulfilled. One June morning in 1943, Elise gathered her children after Albert went to work at the mill.
She instructed them to help her tear down the shack. By the time Albert returned home, his family and their belongings were in the chicken house. He agreed to begin building their home.
Elise knew exactly what she wanted: plenty of room for her robust family and a “home where I felt I was living in the world instead of in a box. I designed it in my mind, but I couldn’t tell anybody what I wanted, so I sat down with scissors, paste, cardboard and match sticks and made a model.”
The Construction of Quigley’s Castle
Elise’s house plans called for 28 windows. Albert wanted to wait to build the house. Glass for those windows was unavailable during the war. However, living in a chicken house, as a family of seven, inspired him to begin building immediately. During the three years that they waited for glass to arrive, the family covered the window openings with layers of fabric.
To bring nature indoors for Elise, four feet of earth was left bare between the edges of the living space and the walls. Into that soil, Elise planted flowering, tropical plants that grew up to the second story ceiling. Some of those plants remain. They are over 70 years old now.
The rocks and stones that Elise collected over the years became part of her dream home. For three years she covered the outside walls with rocks, crystals, fossils and arrowheads. She cultivated a perennial garden around the house. And inside, a collection of hand made crafts and favorite items decorate the house along with cherished antiques. Elise’s love of nature is evident in every room as is her creativity.
Touring Quigley’s Castle
I don’t want to show you everything inside the house. Some things just have to be experienced. However, take a brief tour with me, and appreciate Mrs. Quigley’s Castle.
Albert and Elise are gone, passing away in 1972 and 1984, respectively. However a granddaughter currently lives in the home. She greets visitors at the front garden gate, shares her grandparents’ stories and then allows guests to roam the gardens and tour the house, on their own. She has a private bedroom and bath that is not open to the public, although the rest of the house can be explored at leisure.
The lower level of the house contains a parlor, dining area, living room and kitchen. These rooms are flooded with light from the many windows. And surrounded by the towering plants growing in the dirt around the perimeter.
The downstairs rooms are homey and comfortable, with handcrafted frames holding family photos and lots of natural wood. In one corner of the living room, Elise created a miniature indoor pond that holds fish.
Upstairs there are four bedrooms and at least one bathroom.
French doors open to the outdoors, reached by narrow wooden bridges that cross over the gap between floors and walls. Elise could enjoy the experience of sleeping in the tree tops indoors, with her plants brushing the ceilings of the second story.
One bedroom, called the Butterfly Room, contains an extensive collection of butterflies, all mounted on one wall. She completed this project when she was 68 years old.
These bedrooms are quite charming and airy and feel so connected to the outdoors. When we visited in April, the French doors stood open and a wonderful breeze stirred through the rooms.
Quigley’s Castle Gardens
After spending about half an hour exploring the house, we exited through the back door, to slowly walk in the gardens.
I have a special affinity for gardens and Elise’s are beautiful in a wild way. It was fun to walk down the paths, admiring the trees and plants and flowers, the koi pond and the many items Elise made from her rocks. She set up a table just outside the backdoor and did her concrete and rock work there.
Greg and I both felt inspired by her creativity and her dedication. She leaves behind her vision fulfilled as a legacy to her family and all who walk through the garden gate.
Quigley’s Castle Information
This amazing property is located at 274 Quigley Castle Road, just outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
The house and gardens are open to the public from April 1 until October 31, from 10:00 am until 4:30 pm. The castle is closed on Sundays and Thursdays.
There is a $9.00 tour fee for ages 14 and up. Children under age 14 are free and must be accompanied by an adult. As stated, the tour is self guided although there are photos and information throughout the house.
Quigley’s Castle is not handicap accessible. You must be able to walk over uneven ground and climb stairs.
Check out their website HERE.
When you visit Eureka Springs or Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, add this incredible attraction to your list of things to do. If you appreciate unusual houses and robust creativity, you’ll love Quigley’s Castle.
Do you have a child who loves to collect rocks? Click photo below to check out this National Geographic Rock and Mineral Kit.
Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.