Article by Jordan Simal, contributor, and photos by Tristan Lorei
When Ed Keens thinks of castles, he thinks of home — and not in a house-is-his-castle way, but in an honest-to-goodness-Game-of-Thrones-castle way.
Along with his wife, Judy, the “queen,” Keens, a 68-year-old retired storage trailer businessman, is the “king” of his own castle-inspired palace in Timberville.
Keens’ love of castles and his knowledge of building goes far beyond 2009, the year their home was built. It dates back to his childhood.
“My brothers and I were always building things,” Keens said. “My dad had us working all the time, so we pretty much knew how to drill holes and cut wood and weld.”
The Keens’ medieval Timberville home cost more than $1.2 million to prepare and construct. It sits on 18 acres and over the years, it’s attracted hundreds of onlookers who want to get a look at the unique home for themselves.
It’s something that Judy, a retired nurse, has become used to.
“We have people just randomly coming to the house,” she said. “If they want to see the house, they can.”
Judy Keens said she doesn’t consider it “touring” when people come to see the property, but when it comes to serving as a “guide” to show folks around, that job belongs squarely to Ed.
“He does all the talking,” she said with a laugh.
One thing first-time visitors will learn from Ed is that Keens’ Castle actually isn’t technically a castle. Modern amenities such as heating and cooling systems, as well as garages and windows on the property keep it from being an authentic medieval-era castle.
But that doesn’t make it any less grand.
One of the first rooms folks will see when walking through the front door is what the Keenses call “the Great Room.” It features decor one might expect to see in a European castle.
Mounted animal heads, animal skins, oriental rugs and a two-handed sword are just a few things that decorate the Great Room. A shelf displays books featuring titles such as “Knights & Castles” and “Castles of the World.” A wooden table made by Ed’s brother when he was in high school sits in front of their fireplace.
The room is also completely lined with mirrors along its right side, making the room appear twice as large as it really is.
“The Great Room is the best part of the house,” Ed Keens said. “It just looks nice when there’s people here.”
Keens Castle also features a small dungeon, which is currently a storeroom for Ed’s motorcycle parts, on the house’s lower level. Outside, two towers are mounted on the front of the house with two turrets on the back. But, at the end of the day, it still holds all the usual rooms that make a house a home.
The palace has a kitchen and a balcony overlooking the surrounding land, as well as an additional garage detached from the house. Additionally, the castle has two heating systems – one for upstairs, one for downstairs.
Ed’s garage doubles as his workshop. Inside of it, there’s a mounted bear head, plenty of motorcycles — including a 1973 metal-flake orange Yamaha TX750 motorcycle — and even an eight-sided piece of roofing under construction for the tower in the backyard.
Jim Hertzler, who has been friends with Ed for more than 15 years, said although the palace is attention-grabbing, the couple who live there are just as special.
Hertzler said the Keens family is never short on entertainment. To him, they “pioneer” it.
“He’s excited and interested and is willing to share everything,” Hertzler said. “When he’s entertaining people, he’s in his element.”
And much like William Randolph Hearst who continually revamped and expanded his San Simeon castle in California, Ed Keens still isn’t done building his. He said to stay “happy” during retired life, “you got to have a long-term project.”
“I’m not finished, and I’ll never get finished,” Keens said. “I knew that when I started.”
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