July 11, 2012

Coghlan Castle — The Next Step

Posted in Endangered buildings, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Photos, Updates tagged , , , at 12:51 pm by stonebankblog

$5 million! That’s how much it would take to completely repair and restore the Coghlan Castle near St. John, N.D.

Not going to happen, says Becky Leonard, the spark plug behind saving this striking and rare stone building.

Becky and other Coghlan Castle fans have worked hard to stabilize the building and to make critical repairs to keep it standing. More stone will be reattached to the facade — but, for now, that’s about where the project will stand.

This year’s goal is to install an interpretive sign near the castle, so interested passersby can stop, take a look and go away knowing “what the heck that building is.”

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I have misplaced my notes from my lunch with Becky, who has been involved in historic preservation for years. But she is to be complimented for pushing hard to save this building.

She said the the architect hopes to some day finish one room in the castle, so people can get inside and see it. Right now, the stone restoration work will continue and the interpretive sign will likely be placed this summer.

The truth is that we can’t always bring a building all the way back — but this is a great intermediary stop. Save the structure and keep dreaming.

I often think of the pioneers and dreamers who built these fantastic stone buildings for us to enjoy more than 100 years later. Dream on.

If I ever win the lottery — I’m sending a big, fat donation to the Coghlan Castle restoration.

Here’s a link to a National Park Service site about the Coghlan Castle.

And, here’s a link to an earlier Stone Bank Blog post that shows how we are repairing the Stone Bank’s walls in much the same way as employed at the Coghlan Castle.

What do you think? We’re always interested to hear from readers.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog.



  1. Forgot to say that the architect and Becky say that the Coghlan Castle was almost beyond repair when they got involved — and they say the Stone Bank is in much better shape. Always good to hear.

  2. Mark J said,

    $5M? That can’t possibly be. It’s not even a large building.

    • Hi, Mark. That’s what she said it would take to make complete repairs, install plumbing and heating, etc. Remember there was a fire inside — so it all adds up. Maybe she meant including the money already spent. And I’ll check with Becky and post a fix if one is needed.

    • Becky Leonard said,

      The building is 40’x60′ and 3 stories and was in danger of collapse. What do you consider a “large buidling”? I encourage you to volunteer some time at our next workshop to see the work yet to be done. And yes, that is the estimate we were given at the onset of the project to completely restore the structure. The money already spent is included in that estimate. (Have you priced custom made windows and doors lately?!)

      • Thanks for the input Becky. You are a shining example for everyone who wants to preserve and/or restore a historic building!

  3. OK. I found my notes and Becky Leonard did say that it would cost between $4 million and $5 million to do a complete restoration of the Coghlan Castle. She said they have a grant from the Historical Society of ND to finish the south wall — that’s the wall that has been rebuilt with concrete masonry blocks and need the rest of the face stone reattached. Then there will be an interpretive sign with two pull-offs from the highway for curious passersby.

    What Becky and her crew have done to save this building is nothing short of heroic. The building is standing and looking quite lovely — and we’re lucky to have it as a landmark.

    “It took 60 years to deteriorate,” Becky said of the stone construction.

    Here’s to Becky and the Coghlan Castle organization.

    • that should be “needs” the rest of the face stone reattached.

    • Becky Leonard said,

      Thank you for the kind and encouraging words! I’m really excited for the Stone Bank project too and I inspect the progress on the project every weekend I’m in Bottineau.

  4. Reblogged this on stonebankblog and commented:

    Someone asked me today about “that castle in North Dakota,” and I knew exactly what they meant. It’s time to revisit a blog post about the beautiful Coghlan Castle near St. John, ND.

    Make a donation to help restore the Stone Bank and I will meet you in ND and take you to see the castle (and, of course, the Stone Bank).

  5. Mark J said,

    Haven’t seen these posts in a while! Back to the numbers…$5 million dollars for that structure is still a very crazy cost – it’s $694 / SF based on the dimensions given. Some consideration should be given to “renovation” versus “restoration”. In this case, it would not make sense to try and “restore” the castle, at that cost. I do know construction costs and numbers very well which is exactly why it is unreasonable to think that spending $5,000,000 on the building would be a good idea. A renovation to get the building fully enclosed, water tight and heated would be the way to go. Then turn it into an interpretive site. My 2 cents. Best of luck to both projects.

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