BEAVER - Smith Treuer isn't afraid to live his fantasy.
Slowly, but persistently, he is building the castle of his dreams on a bluff in this small community five miles northwest of Eureka Springs.
Treuer calls Castle Rogue's Manor, located on his private estate, "America's newest castle." The compound includes a cottage and a great hall, which is under construction.
At night, Treuer (pronounced "troyer") is the host at his restaurant, Rogue's Manor at Sweet Spring, where his domestic and business partner, Debbie Sederstrom, is chef.
During the day, Treuer works on his castle.
Ten years ago, Treuer and Sederstrom bought a house and 20 acres on a bluff. They didn't plan to build, but the bluff at the Beaver site "just begged for a castle," he says. "I did it as a hobby and a fantasy. I just like to create and design." The couple have been building on different parts of the castle for most of a decade. The project includes two guard towers and a cottage, which are finished, and a great hall, still under construction.
Treuer has traveled around the world five times in his 63 years, soaking up various cultures and their architecture. He noticed that many cultures used existing geography to build strategically, particularly with castles in countries like India, Russia and Germany.
To reach his castle from the community center of Beaver, Treuer drives across the Little Golden Gate Bridge, the historic yellow suspension bridge featured in the movie Elizabethtown. His point of land is bound by Leatherwood Creek on the east and the White River/Table Rock Lake on the west.
About 150 years ago, this land was a quarry, where the limestone for the Crescent Hotel was procured. Ten years ago, it was overgrown. Treuer groomed the grounds and built guard towers on each side of the U-shaped drive that dead-ends at the property.
About a year after they bought the property, Treuer started building the Gate Keeper's Cottage, down the path from the house. That's where - in the fantasy - the person who controls the gates would live. For now, it's a guesthouse.
The six-floor cottage is 100 feet tall from basement to the tip of the flagpole. It has many odd angles and measures between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet.
Inside, Treuer points out the panel work, trim and molding, which were all created on site. He used an Oriental carpet design for the walnut floor. It has a border around the edge of the room, with a middle of geometric designs including "Escheresque" whirlpools under two towers. One spiral pattern runs clockwise, the other counterclockwise.
"It's an interesting use of space," Treuer says. "Even though it's tall, it's really not that big. You can see through it in a lot of places." Most of the timber and wood used in the project came from native Arkansas red cedar and black walnut trees, which were harvested green and cured, a weathering process that takes years. Treuer's family ran tree farms, and he hopes the castle will show a "reverence for wood." The project's architecture includes elements of medieval, Scandinavian and Asian styles, as well as contemporary styles and some "common sense" ideas.
EUREKA! A HOME
Treuer, born and reared in Minnesota, has been self-employed most of his life. He has designed and made custom clothing and owned a leather business. He has also studied Oriental textiles and carpets, which are displayed at the restaurant.
He traveled a lot before settling in Oregon in the late 1980s. There, he owned a hotel and salmon fishing lodge on the coast. That's also where he met Sederstrom, who was chef at her restaurant there.
Visiting friends from Minnesota who lived in Eureka Springs, the couple became enchanted with the area. About 15 years ago, they bought a Victorian-era home in Eureka Springs that had been converted to a restaurant.