Arizona is home to the jaw-dropping Grand Canyon, crazy desert wildlife, and very hot summers.
#1 Would you believe us if we told you this castle was built by a dentist?
As strange as it sounds, it’s true! Clearly, Dr. Mort Copenhaver wasn’t your average run-of-the-mill dentist, though. Ever since seeing a castle in a movie as a child, he became fascinated with the idea of living in one himself. Dr. Copenhaver was clearly not the type to let his dreams just be dreams, and so he set out to teach himself how to stonecut. Building the castle was a huge endeavor — what ended up being a more than ten year project — but by the end of the 1970’s, his castle was complete. Located on 5050 E. Red Rock Road, in Phoenix, Arizona, the castle occupies the south side of Camelback Mountain. Copenhaver Castle is known for being the highest and most impregnable home in Phoenix.
#2 Did we mention that dentist built this castle by hand?
For whatever reason — sheer stubbornness, lack of funds, who can speculate? — Dr. Copenhaver chose not to use any machinery when he built his famous castle. He purchased a separate parcel of land on Camelback Mountain to use as a source for the stones he needed to build his castle. He blasted rock free from the nearly vertical chunk of cliffside, and since he wasn’t using any machinery, he had to cut each block down until they were small enough that he could carry them. This must have been quite a tedious process, because once he had moved them to the location where he was building the castle, he simply cemented the rocks back together again. He reportedly used around 50,000 bags of cement! Dr. Copenhaver had very little assistance with his gargantuan project. He traded dental services for construction work, rather than paying his few helpers. He also made donations to missions in Mexico after some Hispanic missionaries helped him out. He dedicated so much of his time to building that he had lost a wife and two girlfriends by the time it was finished.
#3 Dr. Copenhaver built the castle to resemble Moorish architecture.
Following the traditions of 8th century Europe, Copenhaver built his castle high on a mountain, so it would be easy to defend from attacks. Not only this, but he also had a phenomenal viewpoint. The structure is eight levels high, but even more impressive are the walls, cut from granite and an incredible eighteen inches thick. All eight levels total up to around 7,000 square feet. The twenty rooms include five bedrooms, seven and a half bathrooms, a servants quarters, a billiards room, and a dungeon with a bar. At least half of the rooms have balconies, there are three garages, and you’ll even find a helicopter pad on the roof. To complete the castle look, there are crenelated towers and walls, and the structure is surrounded by a moat and access is granted via a drawbridge. One of the coolest rooms in the house is arguably the living room, which features a seventeen foot tall waterfall above the fireplace, a sauna, and a twenty person whirlpool spa. Above the spa, a retractable roof makes it easy to enjoy some sunshine during the day, or marvel at the stars at night. Oh, and did we mention there are secret passages throughout the castle?!
#4 You’ll probably hear the castle referred to as Camelback Castle these days.
Even today, the structure stands gracefully on the side of the mountain. Having been built from local materials, it is perfectly in harmony with it’s environment. Historians suspect that the castle will endure time well, and will stand for many, many more years. Unfortunately, Dr. Copenhaver was forced to sell the product of his hard work. In 1985, he set the selling price for the castle at seven million dollars. Sadly, he refused an offer for five and a half million dollars, only to ultimately lower the price of the castle to two and a half million dollars by 1987. Since he had used the castle as collateral for loans and he was unable to pay on them or sell the castle, the Chase Bank of Arizona eventually foreclosed on the building. They sold it for the unbelievable price of $985,000 to Jerry Mitchell who knew Dr. Copenhaver well and had even attended parties at the castle. Mitchell reportedly redecorated the castle to fit a western cowboy and Native American theme. Many people hope that the castle will be opened for tours, but it is unclear what the new owner’s plans are for this beautiful, timeless castle.