Crossing Obstacles While Creating a Castle
It's not Ozzie Smith's vacation home, and it's owners don't grow marijuana. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
The roof line on this lake house is concrete, patterned in a deliberate series of ups and downs. It's a rhythm of work and play that's kept Kel and Anne Bayless working weekends on their dream home for nearly 20 years.
The lengthy construction has left guessing boaters in their wake.
"We get a lot of people coming up in a boat and want to see what this crazy thing is on the side of the hill," said Kel Bayless. "They just kind of go, 'Wow,' and take a step back, and then you can kind of see the gears start to spin."
"You can see it in their eyes, they're like, 'Boy, this is great to come visit. But boy, you guys are nuts,'" Anne Bayless said.
The Bayless house is a 5,000 square foot fortress that features a moat and even a draw bridge. It features two towers from a Swedish tower crane.
Plans began in 1990 when Kel, then a Kansas City-area tower crane company owner who gave height to the likes of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, took on a gamble of his own. He wanted to build a castle.
"It's all in his head. When anyone says, 'Are there blueprints for this?' No. No, there are no blueprints," Anne Bayless said.
Kel Bayless says that at the project's beginning, he didn't know how to set up plumbing or electricity.
"I kind of feel a little bit like Noah because I feel as though I should build it but I really can't tell you why," he said.
Kel didn't need blueprints to know life's architecture isn't always linear. Sometimes there are ripples, and for Kel, his was prostate cancer.
"It came as a real shock," Anne Bayless said.
Many people have asked Kel what will happen next. The day after a recent radiation treatment, he worked on building a waterfall.
Family and friends are pitching in to help the Bayless family finish the Old Cross Castle.
"We've been building this for seventeen years and I've never noticed this before; but Nate, our son, was up on one of the roofs, a higher up one, and he looked down and he came down to his dad. He said, 'Do you realize the shape of the courtyard, the inner shape of it?'" explained Anne Bayless.
Looking straight down at the castle from the air, its footprint is also the cross.
Perhaps Kel had a blueprint after all.
"It's just amazing that you can live through cancer and still build a castle at the same time," Anne Bayless said.
The castle is located on the little Niangua arm of the lake. Once it's finished, Kel and Anne are considering renting it out to visitors. For now, they're spending weekends in the finished pods.