Honey, Stop The Chariot. Finally, That Castle in Greenville Is For Sale

Share News:

At 373 FM 1903 in Greenville — about forty-five minutes east of Dallas — there’s a real, honest to goodness castle with a backstory as interesting as the house.. pardon, castle, itself.

Everyone in town knows about the 6,000+-square-foot castle. It’s a landmark. The current owners, Helen and Foy Varner, said whenever anyone finds out where they live the response is always the same. “Oh, the castle, I’ve always wanted to see inside it!!” And now is your chance. It’s currently up for sale and almost 100 percent completed. 

The Varners have done the lion’s share of the work. It’s structurally sound and we’ll get to that. They’ve lived there for seven and one-half years and loved every minute of it. 

Foy purchased it for his dear wife Helen, a hobbyist and a collector who creates incredibly detailed figurines and dioramas. Think Dungeons and Dragons figures, miniature castles, that sorta thing.

“I basically live in a museum,” Foy tells us. Every house they’ve lived in has been filled with hand-painted, intricate works of art. Over the years they’ve purchased increasingly larger homes to house her collection and the one in Greenville finally did the trick.

Dining room
Kitchen
Living room with wet bar

They’re older now and it’s time to move on, but before they do, Foy was kind enough to give us the history of this elaborate estate and it almost eclipses the structure itself.

Foy said every good castle needs a sad story and 373 FM 1903 is no exception. In 2004, Jimmie Hart laid the foundation. He was building the home for his much younger girlfriend.

“He loved castles and decided to build one for her with huge rooms, crenelated walls, gothic windows, fancy fireplaces and stairway, and solid mahogany doors and cabinetry.”

Office
Staircase that leads to the tower/roof

The house is basically a tank. “It’s built on a massive engineer-designed foundation and the outer walls and two firewalls are made of autoclaved aerated concrete blocks that are fireproof, waterproof, and mostly soundproof.”

The soundproofing comes in handy due to the proximity of a nearby speedway. Foy said the house is so quiet even during races you can barely hear the cars whizzing around the track.

Primary suite
Sitting room connected to the primary suite
One of two primary suite closets

Well, as is common with a grand gesture, Hart went bankrupt and never completed his vision. His girlfriend left and the castle sat incomplete and vacant for three solid years. 

Foy said the misfortune doesn’t end there. The partially completed castle was sold as a foreclosure to another couple, the Zooks. They started in on the completion, but apparently, it was too much for them to tackle. Obviously completing a castle is a bit of an undertaking and the Zooks lost interest or moved on. 

A tragedy is never a tragedy without a third act and that was the case for Hart. In 2009, the same year the Zooks took ownership, Hart was in an automobile accident and became a quadriplegic. He owned a commercial building within eyeshot of the castle, so he converted part of that space to his living quarters. Not only did he lose his girlfriend, his hopes and dreams, and his castle, he was now forced to watch the castle continue to deteriorate.

During their ownership, the Zooks never met Hart, but when the Varners bought the home in 2013 and took over, they got to know him quite well. They gave Hart the triumph he had to have been searching for — a couple that loved and cherished his home as much as he did.

Foy said they’ve done a ton. There are still a few things that need to be completed and updated, but overall the home is “very structurally sound and functional.”

Since it’s been on the market, there has been a tremendous amount of interest. People have wanted to make it a destination, an entertainment center, a wedding venue, a house divided where two families would live and share the common areas, and on and on. The potential is there. The possibilities are endless and with the right vision — and financial backing — this house could become even more legendary than it already is.

Foy said he and Helen have lived in many places. They’ve visited all 50 states and traveled the world, yet they’ve never encountered a town as friendly as Greenville. If that’s something you’d like to be a part of, reach out to At Home Texas Real Estate’s Gwyn Washington or Monette Spradling. They have the three-bedroom, four and one-half bathroom, 6,131 square foot home at 373 FM 1903 in Greenville listed for $649,000.

mm

Nikki Barringer

Nikki Lott Barringer is a licensed real estate agent at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate. She’s also a freelance writer that loves interior design and architecture. Though she will never remember if it’s Midcentury or mid-century and honestly, she’s okay with that. Other fun facts: Nikki loves cake for breakfast, shopping online, and powerwalking her pants off. She’s also much younger than her hobbies would lead you to believe.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Tammy Underwood says

    I finally hot to see the inside via pictures. Jim hart is my uncle and he wanted it finished before we could look inside.. I think it would be a great venue for the area.

  2. Floreen nelsin says

    Failed to say,that contractor ran off with his money then paid to have blueprint made up they took his money but only drew up pictures. He had to hire another company . Then he paid the contractor up front and he never returned after paying them over 78.000.00 dollars . You couldn’t tell mr hart nothing , he was head strong. She tried to tell him to stop spending his money because he was not making good choices.the contractors took him for a real ride and put him in debt. Then he was buying on line all kinds of things he didnt need. I know she had a hard time with jim. he would not listen to reason and she couldn’t afford to lose what she had when it was a one way decision in the end. His driving became reckless and she refused to risk her life by ridding with him ,they had a few close calls prior. But a relationship she claimed was two making decisions. When it came to their life good. But I do know she didnt want jim to continue spending his money on the castle. That the things he put in it was not necessarily needed and could be done later . But it’s for sure not like its wrote. He put a casino in the castle and he lived in a room in the castle . She didnt leave him because he went bank rupt. Jim got to where he was making bad choices and she didn’t want to put all her money into the castle and have nothing to fall back on. Jim hart and her stayed friends afterwards . He even called her and asked her if she wanted to buy the rings he bought and wanted to know if she wanted the wedding dress at a discount. She did buy the items from jim hart . And visited him in the catina bar he built inside the old barn. Out side you would think it was a barn but when you walked in you had a big surprise it was a lil catina with all the extras you could ask for with a lil sleeping area on the side. Which he had already built before his girlfriend .
    But jim chose to build the castle in Hope’s of that the girlfriend would marry him. She never said yes that she would before the castle or during the build if the castle.. jim was a very good friend of mine. We had some good times together with our friends. He was a good man . He just wanted a dream and hoped that if he built the castle that his dream would come true . But just cause he went bankrupt is not the reason his girlfriend left him . Seems like someone would check further into that before the print such a thing . Knowing she lives here and has to live here and now PPL are to believe false tells about her . Yall fail to tell that Jim was a heavy wine drinker and spent alot of money buying wine on line . But now that she has read this story .and is offended you would print allegations that are not true. Apology might be in order. To put ones reputation and make it seem bad could be slander. And when I read your article it sounded to me that. She left cuz of bankrupt like she was a young money hungry gold digger. which is far from the truth. She had just as much as jim hart had when they met and still does and it was not cause she got it from jim hart. .
    RIP jim hart. . You was a good friend .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *