PITTSBURG — There is something enticing about a unique “castle” tucked away behind trees — in this case off a private drive in a neighborhood on the south end of Pittsburg is “Graham’s Castle.”
On Saturday, over 450 people walked down the path to tour the home.
Tera Jameson came to the event with her friend Juan Villela. Jameson has lived in the area for most of her life, she knew about the house behind the trees and the tour gave her an opportunity to “take a closer look,” she said. This was new to Villela, as soon as he heard there was a “castle” in Pittsburg he knew he had to go on the tour, he said.
Some people came from out of town and for some it was their first time in Pittsburg. Rodney Ryther traveled from Yates Center with his family who are from Ottawa and Bartlett.
“I’ve never heard of this place,” he said, adding, “We’re here because we’ve always been interested in this type of stuff.”
The event was hosted by Paranormal Science Lab and current owner owner Eric DeGruson to raise money to restore the 80 year-old home. However, they were only expecting a little over 150 people to show up for the event.
“I’m a little surprised at the number of people who still knew about it or remember it from their youth or other times,” DeGruson said.
Paranormal Science Lab focuses on working at historic sights to educate people and preserve history. This event is part of their Mysterious Four States series.
“It’s a pleasure for us to do the tour because our focus for us to is to work for historic sites,” Team Leader of Paranormal Science Lab Lisa Livingston-Martin said. “We’re all history buffs, but first and foremost this helps sites promote themselves and helps with maintenance and preservation projects.”
During the event, DeGruson said he spoke to people who remembered his uncle Eugene DeGruson, who owned the house previously.
“There are a lot of people who had memories going there from their childhood,” Eric DeGruson said. “They were probably too scared to knock on the door.”
The castle-like home was constructed in the 1930s by Staneart Graham out of concrete, steel and recycled materials. DeGruson said he would like to see the building used whether that would be in the form of renting it, creating a bed and breakfast or an artist’s retreat.
“There are many avenues to consider,” he said. “Our goal was to give people an opportunity to appreciate what Graham did, and I noticed that they did through the tours.”
Livingston-Martin said after speaking to people who were visiting for the tour, she believes the unique home being closed from the public made it mysterious for people. She said there were a lot of urban legends which came from their childhood, “they probably came from things parents told kids to stop bothering neighbors,” she said.
“It was fantastic and a very pleasant surprise to see people’s enthusiasm and support for the house,” she said. “The community spirit was fantastic.”
People will have another opportunity to see the home from 4 to 8 p.m. on September 16. The house is located at 601 Grandview Heights. Tours are scheduled for every 20 minutes. It costs $10 for adults and $5 for children under 14.
“It really is a unique, one of a kind home you’re not going to find anywhere, no matter where you travel,” Livingston-Martin said. “This is one man’s vision, that continued to be worked on for 30 years.”
Granddaughter of Staneart and Ruth Graham, Carol Coakley, said she has fond memories playing at the home and visiting her grandmother. Coakley said she is glad there was so much interest in the home.
“Staneart worked really hard on it his entire life,” she said. “It was kinda always looked down on, but no one really knew the story behind it.
“I’m thrilled Eric is bringing people in and getting the stories straight.
“I’m thrilled the house can be appreciated for what it really is now.”
About the home
Staneart Graham, who was a lawyer, moved into the house in 1937. He designed the house himself although he was not a trained architect.
The house is reminiscent of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s structures and was made out of recycled materials.
“It was a labor of love and designed to be forward thinking,” Team Leader of Paranormal Science Lab Lisa Livingston-Martin said.
The structure was built with brick, steel and concrete. Some materials were pulled from mines.
When constructing the home it appears he had self-sustainability in mind, with a windmill connected to generators and batteries stashed away. His house did not have running water when it was built.
Graham constructed a concrete roof, designed to pool rain water into a bath.
The home belonged to Graham’s family until the 1960s, then purchased by Eugene DeGruson, Eric’s uncle. Eugene was a local historian and was interested in southeast Kansas history.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.