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Luxury

Inside This Unassuming Suburban Home Lurks an Unbelievable Castle

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    Living room

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    The front door

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    almine back door

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    Master bedroom

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Gather 'round, ye home buyers, bring a chalice, and drink to this peculiar and awesome bit of real estate.

From the outside, it appears to be an average suburban home with a slight Mediterranean twist. You'd never guess the inside of this unassuming house looks like someone shrank the personal quarters of an 18th-century monarch and stuffed them into this split-level house in Newport, OR, but that's exactly what it looks like -- and it could be yours for $399,000.

When owner Almine Barton bought the home around the time it was built in 1975, "it was an ordinary suburban house with shag carpets," she says. She worked on the home's interior slowly, taking on one project at a time, each taking around one year to complete. That's how long it took, for example, to remodel the old ceiling in the living room and install new, gilded raft beams. None of this was inexpensive.

"If you take one side of the molding and ungild it, it runs something like $16 per inch," Barton says.

Appropriately, Barton has royal ties. Born in Africa, she immigrated to the United States, where she married a local attorney and bought this home. After divorcing her spouse in the U.S., she traveled to the United Kingdom, where she wed Richard Bentinck Boyle, the ninth Earl of Shannon. Through the years she traveled the world as a spiritualist, all the while transforming this 3,212-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bathroom house into something out of both a history book and a storybook.

But as much as the house resembles a castle -- perhaps most striking are the walls, which are covered in moire silk and imported Schumacher silk satin -- Barton says she wasn't looking to re-create something from her past. Instead, she designed it on the fly, as a "work of art in progress."

Her art project makes for a standout property. Most of the windows have been replaced with either hand-rolled glass or stained-glass windows sourced from cathedrals. Upstairs in the master bedroom is a pair of tall cathedral windows featuring Peter the Apostle; Barton isn't sure where they originally came from (they were found in an attic in England, a common thing to do during World War II to protect cathedrals' stained glass from nightly bombings). Downstairs, there are two circa-1745 stained-glass windows from Lancaster Cathedral plus stained-glass bay windows from an old English church.

The nontraditional windows make for a home that's darker than most. To alleviate that issue, Barton says she chose certain textiles and colors to reflect light. When lit, the fieldstone fireplace in the living room makes you "feel like you're in a Rembrandt painting," she says.

But what could you do with this home if it didn't have the furnishings and curio? It would look downright weird to outfit this place with stuff from Ikea or West Elm. That's why Barton says she's willing to include all the furnishings for an extra $50,000. Here's a sample of what you'll receive for the extra bounty:

  • A 42-light bulb Australian lead crystal chandelier
  • Books that are at least a century old, with some dating to the 17th century
  • A trunk that "predates the Norman Conquest"
  • Double-thick drapes worth $14,000 "minus the hand-made rugs" in the dining room
  • Handcrafted silk rugs
  • An inches-thick wood door (carved by a preacher who advised Henry Ford) with antique Spanish hinges
  • Victorian-era wood furniture
  • Antique cabinets made from violin wood
  • A mounted mural detail of " The Transfiguration" in the master bedroom
  • Multiple stained-glass windows from European cathedrals
  • Italian stucco work

 

While Barton estimates the antiques are worth more than $50,000, she's willing to sell her furnished home only to someone who won't sell off the interior in piecemeal fashion.

"I sound a bit foolish, but it would be like taking the Lincoln Memorial apart to sell its bricks. I'm bending over backward to sell it furnished," she says, noting that the $399,000 price for just the house is "firm."