September 8, 1996 in Nation/World

His Garage Is His Castle Gawkers Flock To See A Bit Of Disneyland In Idaho

By The Spokesman-Review

A curious looking “garage” plopped in the middle of Eagan Mountain is becoming an unofficial tourist attraction in Hope, Idaho.

The structure, a nearly 3,000-square-foot castle with turrets and medieval detail, draws gawkers from the highway and makes boaters on Lake Pend Oreille unpack their binoculars.

The castle has been under construction for two years and is being built by California physicist Robert Kane.

Kane declined to talk about the building, which some estimate has cost nearly $1 million to build and remains unfinished.

“North Idaho people don’t usually build something like that,” said Bob Garrison, Bonner County’s building director. “He (Kane) said he wanted to create a landmark and bring a bit of Disneyland to North Idaho and he’s doing it.”

The castle has been mistakenly rumored to be a summer home for Arnold Schwarzenegger and called everything from an eyesore to Mickey Mouse’s castle.

Neighbors complain about the gaudy design, the daily arrival of snoops trampling through their property and those driving up their private road. A few neighbors even reported Kane to the building department.

Kane has worked on the castle without a building permit and the lot, which overlooks Lake Pend Oreille, is not approved for a septic system.

But Garrison said Kane is operating well within the law. The castle is not a house but a storage shed. When Kane started construction the county did not require permits for storage buildings.

“We got six complaints and started a file because we thought it was going to be a house, but he said it’s only going to be an RV garage and storage building,” Garrison said. “We’ve been up there and there is nothing in it, no floors or rooms. It’s just a big shell.”

There also is nothing in the county code that says what a storage building has to look like.

“This is a bit eccentric, but he has done nothing wrong and has been very helpful and cooperative,” Garrison said. The county has changed its rules regarding storage buildings since Kane’s castle went up. Permits now are required and there is a size limit.

Not everyone dislikes the mountainside oddity about 15 miles east of Sandpoint. Neighbor Steve Carmack finds the castle intriguing.

“It looks quite nice up there, kind of like Disneyland,” he said. “I don’t object to it at all except for all the people coming up to look at it. We should put up a sign that says there is no access to the castle,” Carmack laughed.

The castle has three turrets and a spire with a reflective surface. Rock walls and a rock facade also surround the building which lacks only a moat and drawbridge.

Original plans called for the castle to be more than 14,000 square feet. Garrison expects Kane eventually will apply for permits to make it a home and finish the inside.

“It wouldn’t be guaranteed but he could apply and make it a house.”

Curious passers-by have gone so far as to hike up the hillside through private property for a closer look. One neighbor put up a cattle gate to keep people out.

“All day long people are coming up, going by my place,” Carmack said.

“If you are going to put an eyesore like that on the mountain, idiots are going to want to see what it is,” said another neighbor who didn’t want her name used.

“He (Kane) apparently has a lot of money and wants to play with it. He can express himself any way he wants, but I am not thrilled with it and don’t think it does anything for the community or the environment,” she said. “He just found a loophole in the building code.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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