A Girl Grows up to Build Her Dream House: A Castle


When Elise was a little girl, she loved the outdoors. She began collecting rocks as she walked along a creek bed to school. She dreamed of one day having a big house surrounded by the natural beauty of the Ozark mountains where she could display her collection of rocks and gems.

In 1928 when she was 18, she married Albert Quigley. “They lived in a lumber shack and had five children,” said Debbie Quigley, granddaughter of Albert and Elise. “My grandfather promised her he would build a house with the lumber cut off their own property.”

But time went on and nothing was being done. So one morning, when Albert went off to work, Elise took matters into her own hands. “She gathered the children around her and said ‘we’re going to tear down the house,’” Debbie said. “And they destroyed the shack they were living in. When granddad came home that night, he discovered they were now living in a chicken house, where they had moved all of their stuff.”

Now Albert had no choice, they had to begin work on a new house. So they began building the house with their own hands from lumber off of their land.

Elise had already designed her dream home. She wanted two things: Plenty of room for her big family and a “home where I felt I was living in the world instead of in a box,” Elise said. “I designed it in my mind, but I couldn’t tell anybody what I wanted. So I sat down with scissors, paste, cardboard and match sticks and made a model.”

Elise wanted 28 huge windows. But World War 2 had begun, and glass was not available. They could not get the glass for another three years. So the family survived the winters by tacking up material over the holes where the windows would go.

To bring nature indoors, four feet of earth was left exposed between the edges of the living space and the walls. In that space, all around the rooms on the inside, Elise planted flowering, tropical plants that grow up to the second story ceiling. The plants are over 65 years old now. Especially spectacular is the “Butterfly Wall.” You won’t believe it.

And what about Elise’s stone collection?

“Stones that my grandmother had begun collecting as a girl became an important part of the house,” Debbie said. “Working for three years, she covered the outside walls with the most beautiful fossils, crystals, arrowheads and stones that she collected from the creek beds.”

Oh, did we forget to tell you?? You can visit Quigley’s Castle, and the beautiful gardens that surround it, in Eureka Springs. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places too!

See the quirky dream house that Elise and Albert built over 50 years ago … one of Arkansas’ strangest dwellings!


Quigley’s Castle

274 Quigley Castle Rd

Eureka Springs, AR 72632

Call us at: 479‑253‑8311

Or visit: www.quigleyscastle.com

Hours: Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Admission price is $7 for adults, children 14 and under are free with parents.


Give it a try! Design your own dream house!

Think about your own dream house. What would it look like? A mansion or a cozy hideaway? Where would it be? In a tree? At the beach? In the forest? In a city?

What would it be made of? What kind of materials would you use? Wood? Stone? Bricks? Legos? Or maybe even sunflowers, like the sunflower house on page 12. What colors would it be? How many rooms would it have? Who would live there?

You can draw a floor plan of it on a piece of paper.

Or make a model of it, like Elise did, with cardboard, popsicle sticks, and other art supplies.

You can even try making it out of sticks, bark and things found in nature.

Have fun dreaming!

Send a picture of your dream house to Official Kids Mag and we might publish it in a future issue! Send it to krice@officialkidsmag.com.