Hello boys and ghouls! For our extra-spooky Halloween edition, we’ve got a real doozy. In fact, I used to live about 10 minutes from this place and I never even knew it was there (thus only adding to the mystery and intrigue that surround it). Our featured over-the-top property is...
This creepy stone castle sits on the border of Atlanta and Decatur in the otherwise welcoming little village of Oakhurst. Oakhurst Castle (as neighborhood denizens refer to it) was built in 1908 by Canadian-born artist Frank B. Judson in the trendy emerging suburb then known as Poplar Springs. Judson was a salesman with the Atlanta Art Glass company and apparently did well enough to buy several lots in the upscale suburb, building his magnificent castle soon afterward. The quirky rose quartz cobblestone masonry exterior, as legend has it, was constructed with help from family members. The courtyard features fine marble and granite mined from Stone Mountain, and, as one might expect from a superstar art glass salesman, there was plenty of beautiful stained glass installed to give the place the ultimate gothic look.
While there are no confirmed reports of hauntings at Oakhurst Castle, it is rumored that a Confederate soldier was buried on the grounds after dying at a nearby battle site. I guess that means there’s a possibility that his ghost could be hanging around. Whether or not the Castle is haunted, you’d have to agree that its backstory isn’t a particularly auspicious one. Judson might have been a sales superstar--in fact, he was named president of the company in 1912--but this home nearly sent him bankrupt. He got behind on paying his property taxes, but Judson nevertheless continued to use the property as collateral for scads of debts, on all of which he ended up defaulting. By 1917 all of his property, including the Castle, had been seized by creditors, and Judson fled from the area.
But there’s more! Vacant for many years and left to its own devices to get nice and decrepit, Oakhurst Castle was declared a nuisance by the City of Decatur and narrowly escaped demolition when it was sold in 2005 to new rehabilitation-minded owners. So, fortunately for any potential buyer (and unfortunately for our attempts to spin this place as a spooky old castle), this property is in much better shape than it was less than a decade ago. You won’t get any creepy bonuses like an overgrown secret garden in the backyard, a loose brick revealing a hidden key to the dungeon, or a long-forgotten shed filled with treasured memories and vengeful spirits. (Drat!) What you will get is one of the most unique homes in the metro area, with all the mod cons you need for contemporary castle living.
Clocking in at just over 2700 square feet, this 3BR/3BA abode epitomizes the perennially entertaining “Do Whatcha Like” school of architecture. Modeled after a medieval castle (or a fanciful salesman’s idea of one, anyway), the structure has all of the key elements one would associate with a proper castle straight out of a good Vincent Price thriller. Stone-clad exterior? Check. Arched windows? Check. Stained glass? Check. Giant intimidating iron doorknocker on massive wooden front door that creaks ominously when opened? Got it covered.
The marble-and-granite courtyard is enclosed with fortified walls (to keep out invading creditors, perhaps, in Judson’s case), and the crenellation along the top lends a whimsical storybook feeling to the place. The landmark turret on the front half of the home is perfect for imprisoning captives or dethroned princesses, whose ghosts could subsequently roam the halls in climate-controlled comfort (no more of those drafty stone corridors of old!). It saddens me to report that there’s no moat or drawbridge at present, but I’m sure it would be easy enough to have them installed (anybody know a good moat contractor in the ATL area?). You’ve gotta have the right atmosphere if you want this place to live up to its eerie potential!
The inside of the home is surprisingly banal in decor and looks nothing like what one might expect from a castle’s interior, but it contains some choice elements all the same. Step inside (if you dare) and you’ll immediately scream in terror at the scary outdated wallpaper in the foyer and sitting room. The winding wooden staircase looks exactly like the kind somebody might “accidentally” fall down while fleeing from evil. Head into the kitchen where a breathtaking commissioned Fauvist mural on the ceiling will distract you from the fact that the butcher block island could double as a morgue table. The charming coach house out back has been turned into a stone-walled, wood-ceilinged artist’s studio. I could totally imagine somebody with a project deadline working day and night out there until they get snowbound and go stir-crazy à la Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
As you can see, the macabre possibilities are endless. So if you love reading a good suspense story, or if you have aspirations of starring in your very own horror film, or for whatever reason you’re just in the market for a home with lots of spirit(s), this may be the place for you. Consult these great online resources for more information about the history of Oakhurst Castle: