Photo of a painting of the castle
Photo of the castle as it was before it burned.
Scan of old postcard of castle.

I received E-Mail that said:

If you collect information genuinely about " castles" allow me to tell you about one I knew of as a kid in Tennessee. In southern TN , in town known as Winchester ,a one-stop-light-wonder; there use to exist a dreamy little place named " One Hundred Oaks Castle". The locals there considered this their secret little wonder , they wanted so badly to show off but not at the expense of the homey ,little small town atmosphere that naturally existed there.

Here is what little I remember of it's peculiar history. Originally the house had been built as a typical antebellem , that was part of the infamous cotton growing era ,and sat on a plot of approx. 1000 acres. One of this home's owners had been one of the first five governer's of the state. Upon his death he bequeathed his mansion to his ever dreaming son. This wealthy son decided he was going to own at Castle. So He traveled through Europe and studied some of the greatest castles to refurbish his home into a Castle. He even , according to local legend and some minor historical research , copied Sir Walter Scott's { I could be wrong about this person.} library in miniture for his library. He died before he completed his masterpeice. Only the first two floors were completed,leaving the third floor and turret [ which the locals knew as -the attic.]bare floors and open beams. Somewhere around the late part of the last century the family sold the beloved property due to the fact they could no longer afford the upkeep. I think it changed hands several times before somehow it ended up ( of all the things to find in TN.) a Catholic Monasary. Somewhere in the middle of this century they decided to get rid of it for some reason. It changed hands a number of times again, declining as it went. Finally, It was put up for an Auction .A woman driving thru the area, pulled in the location ; seeing a sign for an auction. She walks in the door and bids right away. Not knowing it she lands this mansion for One single U.S. dollar because no one else bid on the house. She and her husband and several owners after her tried all kinds of schemes to bring in income for the sheer purpose of sustaining this giant monster. On several occasions it had been converted into a resturant with several of the kitchen related areas converted into one huge resturant kitchen. The Carriage house got converted into an ice cream parlor to accomdate the visiting guest when it was ran ,short-lived of course,as a museum about itself and it's unique history. About this time they rented it out for weddings and Proms and all kinds of get-togethers to keep money coming in. You could take self lead or guided tours at this time which was how it had charmed me.

The Castle (as it was charmingly refered to)was chocked full of tiny architectural pleasures. It had a massive ,solid oak,hand-carved,arched front door.(In an uncastle kind of way it had a brick front porch and second floor balcony.)Most of the downstairs entertainment rooms had wooden paneled and beamed ceilings . It had a three story room ( that when I saw it was used as a Dining Room.) that had previously been used as the church part of the monasary. It still had the tiny sliding door on the double-door,oak ,entrance door so no one could disturb services. It had a two story library adjacent to this room, with wooden floors and stairwell. The library stairs had a beautiful little landing halfway up that jutted out at the corner of the room with leaded glass windows to look out over the perfectly manacured yard. All the bookshelves were built-in with glass paneled doors. Back in the main part of the house there were all kinds of plush period items built into the house by a man that loved castle architecture. It had a bathroom upstairs ,that clear up to the time I saw it a few years ago ,still had its gravity shower and ceiling watertank still intact. It had it's own tiny school room with black board. It had a massive catacomb for a storage basement, that was rumored to be part of the original " underground railroad" { a number of locations altered to help southern slaves escape to a better life by hiding them .},these were used in such large massive quanities in pre-refrigerator days. Under one of the round turreted rooms even existed a dungeon - Complete with shackles!

At the last time I saw it the caretaker had the original plans for the original castle restoration and was planning on getting donated money for a completion of the restoration. I am assuming this was not completed. The last I heard of it, "the Castle " had sustained sizable fire damage due to the bad electrical system they couldn't afford to update. I do not know how much of it exists but if they are planning still to refurbish after this disaster they could use the attention your site could give them. Supposably the church stained glass windows still exist in the state museum in Nashville. It had as once been registered with the historical society because had one of those state signs out front that denoted it's historical significance.

Later, I received E-Mail along with the second picture above.

Here is a picture I took of a painting of Hundred Oaks Castle in Winchester, TN. The painting used to hang inside the doorway of the castle. This was about 10 years ago when it was in use as a resturant. We took the tour and ate a piece of chocolate pie. I believe at this time it was owned and operated by some agency that employeed handicapped persons.

Later, I received E-Mail that said, in part:

I entertained in the small lounge set up in a rearward section of the 100 Oaks Castle - in 1976. At that time it was "owned" (leased?) by Winton "Doug" Douglas, and his wife, Peggy. Doug, the son of the elder Douglas, who, I think, had amassed the family fortune (don't know how, unless it was real estate brokering).

Winton "Doug" Douglas later (early eighties?) invested in Mel Fisher's search for the Atocha treasure (sunken ship off Key West). His timing was perfect, because a few months later, the Fishers found the "reef of silver bars" (the "mother lode") which Doug actually helped recover! Doug seemed to have the Midas touch, because Mel (whom I met and also entertained when I was in Key West in '78-'79) had been looking for the main cargo for what, twenty years(?) by the time he found it! Doug was the perfect type to be associated with a castle, as it was easy to imagine his tall, dark, (and he was amiable and intelligent) "dashing" good looks in a "knight of shining armor" role!

The younger Douglases lived in a nice, but relatively small home adjacent to the castle. At that time, nobody stayed in the castle itself - and no rented rooms for tourists, just a restaurant and separate bar - and a gift shop (and guided tours), during their "reign".

When I was planning to leave Winchester - late '76 - Doug tried to get me to stay and continue playing in the lounge, as I - and my wife, Sharon, serving as manager of the lounge - had helped to develop capacity crowds for him (on the weekends). But I would've had to work more nights in order to afford to stay in town (little lounge, little pay - especially for just two nights a week). I tried to get Doug to let me turn one part of the "attic" of the castle into an apartment, so that I could live on the premises, and even offered to serve as "nightwatchman" as I have always been a night person, being a musician (raised by a policeman - not a "flakey" kind of musician). I think Doug thought I wouldn't be able to create a suitable apartment (most people don't think a musician has any real sense), so he wouldn't agree to it . If he had've, the castle would've gained extra living space, and constructed in a quality way, holding to the theme of the castle idea.

The castle was an ambitious undertaking for the original "dreamer", and you could see various influences in the architecture - being done in an add-on fashion by basically just one man! Great place!

Buck Fell (and his Jumpin' Piana)

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I noticed that you already have this castle included on your list. I wanted to point out that the Historic American Buildings Survey has this building included in it's online catalog. Their site can be found at

Searching by the title "Hundred Oaks" one can find a 21 black and white photographs taken before the fire, including a few interior views, as well as several pages of text about the history and design of the building. Your site already has several photos, but should anyone be interested in finding further information or illustrations about Hundred Oaks, it's a good resource to know about.

Also, Hundred Oaks Castle did receive a bit of press back in the October 1996 issue of Preservation magazine...

"Free to good owner: one home. Circa 1880. European-inspired, 45,000-sq-ft, 37 room homestead converted into Hundred Oaks Castle by romantic son of Tennessee's 21st governor. Operated as restaurant and tourist attraction providing vocational training for learning-disabled adults. Severely damaged by fire in 1990. Stabilized. Still intact: 5-story battlement turret and 45-foot-long ballroom. Must-see Victorian replica of Sir Walter Scott's study with massive, Gothic-style fireplace. Yearning for TLC. Great potential for incorporated entity to take over and promote ruins, restore gardens..."

I don't know if anyone ever took them up on their offer...

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

Hello- I finally found the site I have been looking for! My family used to live in Hundred Oaks Castle from 1959-1961. I was just a toddler at the time. My father, Paul F. Telthorster, was in the Air Force and was looking for a temporary home in the Winchester, Tennessee area. An agent showed my father this castle that had been neglected and he decided that it would be a great place for his two sons and daughter to have fun in for a few years. So with a lot of elbow grease and hundreds of window panes to wash, my parents made it a home.

Although I was very young and don't have too many memories of this "house", my brothers do. They used to give tours to stoppers-by and play cowboys and indians and other games in and around this massive structure. During our "reign" in the castle, there were many write ups in the local newspapers about us, but the one of most interest was in Life magazine-March 10, 1961.

The author of the information that is written on the site of One Hundred Oaks is accurate from all the information that we have heard and read. We visited our old home in 1982 when it had a restaurant and gift shop and had lunch and took a guided tour . My mother ended up telling the guides more about the history than they were telling us!

Needless to say, we were all heart broken when we heard the news of the fire. We hope that it can be restored and would love to be kept updated on any progress.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

In further searching, the below is more information that I found. It sounds like they have fixed it up recently. Here is what I found:

Day Trip: Hundred Oaks Castle--Winchester Tennessee Castles aren't just found in fairy tales any more. A short 55-minute drive from Huntsville to Winchester, Tennessee provides a glimpse of a majestic castle--complete with towers, a carriage house, a great hall, underground tunnels, and beautiful gardens. In fact, one garden designed by the famous garden designer, Rosemary Verey of England, is presently under construction. Hundred Oaks is one of thirteen historic castles in America and is listed in the Smithsonian Guide to Historic America. And, more importantly, Hundred Oaks Castle has ties to Huntsville, Alabama.

History of the Plantation House
If you think it's strange to find a castle in Tennessee, you should know that the castle didn't start out as a castle. It started out in 1830 as a two-story plantation house for Benjamin Decherd, a railroad tycoon, for whom the town of Decherd, Tennessee is named. Decherd sold the plantation to Elisha Thompson and his son-in-law, Benjamin Parks. They, in turn, sold the house to Benjamin McGehee who rented the plantation to George and Priscilla Hunt. The Hunts later bought the plantation. George Hunt was a descendant of John Hunt, for whom Huntsville, Alabama was named and Clinton Hunt, for whom Huntland, Tennessee was named.

The Hunts sold the land in the early 1860's to Albert Marks, a relative of Thomas Jefferson and the twenty-first governor of Tennessee. Albert's son, Arthur Handly Marks, was the first person to count the large oak trees on the plantation from which came the name "Hundred Oaks." Arthur Marks was given a diplomatic position in England where he spent much of his time in the countryside, admiring the architecture of the homes and castles. On a trip to Germany he met and fell in love with Mary Hunt, a wealthy native of Nashville. They married in Scotland and returned to Winchester in 1889. Arthur began the expensive and time-consuming task of converting the plantation home into what is now Hundred Oaks Castle.

The Plantation Becomes a Castle
The plantation house was converted to a 12-bedroom castle, with 40-foot high ceiling in the Great Hall, a dining room with oak beamed ceiling, a small study patterned after Sir Walter Scott's study in Scotland, a wine cellar, loggia, and other features of medieval architecture. The stones were brought by wagon from Sewanee Mountain, the brick was baked locally, and the woodwork was handmade by a local Winchester craftsman.

Arthur Marks died in 1882, at the age of 28, from typhoid fever. His widow remarried. The estate was in a number of lawsuits. The land changed hands several times. In 1900, Paulist Fathers, an order of Roman Catholic priests, bought the castle and 400 acres of land. The library was converted into a chapel with large stain-glass windows. These were removed when the monks later sold the property. The Monks sold much of the land, established a creamery with Holstein cattle. The church, monastery, and school continued until 1953.

Fire Destroys the Castle
The property changed hands many times in the 50's and 60's. In 1975, Winton and Peggy Douglas purchased the castle and built a brick caretaker's home next door, added a large commercial kitchen, and opened the castle as a restaurant and private club. In 1981, Alta Reagan bought the castle at an auction. She leased it to the Franklin County Adult Activity Center which used it as a training center for many years. After 4 years, she deeded the castle to the center as a gift. In May 1990, a fire broke out on the property, destroying one wing of the castle. The property remained boarded up until 1996 when it was purchased by the Kent Bramlett Foundation, a charitable organization.

The Castle Today
P.K. and Shirley Bramlett, along with their son, Robert, have spent the last 4 years renovating the castle and grounds. The Kent Bramlett Foundation was established in 1990 in memory of the Bramlett's son who died in a car crash. Many of the furnishings, windows, antiques, and gardens are in memory or honor of loved ones that the donors have lost and wanted to memorialize. The Bramletts have furnished two suites in the castle's attic rooms as a sanctuary for those who need "time away" from their everyday life to mourn the loss of loved ones.

The Great Hall is clothed with flags from many countries hanging from the 40-foot ceiling. The long center pub table is reminiscent of a British setting. Stain-glassed windows add to the splendor of the room. A marble top table, leaded windows, brass lamps, an antique chandelier, and a reproductions of watercolors by Prince Charles adorn the parlor. The "Sir Walter Scott" library contains hundreds of law books, original tile around a gas fireplace, and antique chairs. A lovely alcove turret is tucked on the second story of the castle.

The Elizabethan Room, the first suite, is a blue and white French-style room with a doll collection and furniture from J. J. Share of Nashville, who died at the age of 18. Shirley Bramlett's artwork, English paintings, French dishes, and brass lights highlight the room. The Edwardian Room is the second suite for guests that the Bramlett's have converted. It features stained-glass windows, blue velvet fabrics, antique ballroom draperies, a press-tin mantelpiece, brass bed, and imported painted Mexican sink. Lamps that are reproductions of the ones on the Titanic sit upon two antique sewing machines. The whole effect is a showpiece of Shirley's decorating talents.

The Castle is open for tours or special occasions by appointment. Many weddings, candlelight dinners, receptions, and other events are held annually in the castle on in the grounds. You can contact the Hundred Oaks Castle at 931-967-8583 for more information. If you want to feel like a princess, visit this castle just a short drive from Huntsville.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

About 1956, my father took our family and some friends to Winchester, Tennessee, on a Sunday afternoon to visit the One Hundred Oaks Castle. The owner was considering holding an auction to sell some of the remaining contents of the Castle and the Castle and acreage. The castle had just been vacanted by the Catholic Church that had used the structure for a monastery.

The structure had fallen into bad repair and the residents had left a large quanity of books, papers, old furniture and personal belongings. There were broken windows, damaged walls, damaged ceilings (mostly water damage) and the brick walls had been damaged by water and the lack of maintenance.

I remember my father discussing the cost of removing the books, papers, and other debris from the castle and getting the structure in some condition to offer for sale. I remember them discussing a cost of $500 to get the structure ready to sale and a discussion of a possible sale price of $10,000. That was a lot of money in 1956.

The owner decided to not hold an auction at that time and the structure was left without any care until about 1960. It was in bad repair and there was little interest in buying the structure and making costly repairs.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I was an employee at the castle from 1977-79 my name is Paris, and I was the grounds keepers helper or more like lawn mower boy. I was 14 at the time. My father did the maintenance there when Winton and Peggy were the proprietors there. I visited the castle about 15 years ago much to my surprise it was 90% destroyed, I broke down because I believe part of my soul was in that castle and that day that part of me was destroyed as well, I just seen the article you have on the web and I do want to thank you for that. I looked at another site were they are so called restoring it I am sorry to say they will never be able to come close to getting it put back to all it beauty and splendor.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

Just an update to your last posted information on this castle. My family and I drove to it last weekend (Sept. 2003). Just as your last post noted, there were "NO Trespassing" signs posted and we could not get a good look at the castle through all the trees and brush along the fence line. The owner of the nearby Falls Mill B&B told us that the castle owners are usually there so maybe they are still working on rennovations but it is not evident.

{{Castlefinder note!}}
Princess Patricia I visited this castle in March of 1999. There were no trespassing signs, so we could not get close enough to get a very good picture. It looked like they have not done much work on it yet. It could be a nice castle if they would do the repairs.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

Here is some more information on Hundred Oaks Castle in Winchester, TN. I wrote to the foundation that owns the castle and received a reply from Shirley Bramlett, Secretary-Treasurer of the Kent Bramlett Foundation, Inc. The restoration IS on-going and they are open for tours by reservation. Tours are availble for groups of 20 or more at $12.50 per person or for groups of 15-20 for $15 per person. The number to call is 931-967-8583.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I enjoyed reading what you wrote about 100 Oaks Castle. I spent my teen years residing in the castle. My room was in the bottom portion of the largest tower. The Douglasses procured the castle from my family. My mother is the one responsible for the castle being listed with the Historical Society.

We moved out shortly after my father flung open the front door, clad only in his underwear, thinking I had locked myself out, only to find three little ladies, coming in at 11:00 pm to tour the place. This was a common occurance during our stay. My family is in contact with the Bramletts and we have created a beautiful memory garden there dedicated to our father.

Many plans are in the works and the place is beautiful for weddings, parties, and social events. My mother recently comissioned replicas to be made of 100 Oaks. I will post them soon on e-bay.

On 5-24-05, I received E-Mail that said:


On 6-29-05, I received E-Mail that said:

This is an interesting article about One Hundred Oaks Castle located in Winchester, Tennessee. The castle has been restored and open to tour. This article is complete with pictures of the castle.

On 4-12-10, I received e-mail that said:

Hi, There is now an official website for Hundred Oaks Castle in Tennessee:

There are also many photos of it at the Historic American Buildings Survey website:

Back to "Castles of the United States"

Thanks to Duncan Weddington for the scan of the postcard.