Hard Luck Mine Castle becomes an Airbnb rental

A gothic-style castle 187 miles from Las Vegas near California’s Death Valley has been sold and will be turned into an Airbnb rental for tourists looking for a secluded getaway.

Known as the Hard Luck Mine Castle, the property, which the media and public call an apocalyptic castle, but the original owner said it was not, sold for $550,000 . It went on sale for $900,000 in the spring of 2019 when the Real Estate Millions profiled the chateau and owner-builder Randy Johnston.

The four-story round castle has 22 rooms and measures 8,000 square feet. It is located on 40 acres off Highway 267 in Esmeralda County, approximately 35 miles from Goldfield near Death Valley National Park.

New owner Richard Socher, a former data scientist and executive vice president of Salesforce, said he plans to put the house on the short-term rental market by the end of June.

Airbnb has noted that rentals of rural and unique outdoor properties are increasing as travelers seek an escape from city life, Socher said. National parks have seen a huge increase in visitation, and towns closer to national parks have done well, he said.

“I’m ready to take the gamble,” Socher said. “You have these incredible views. It feels like you are in the middle of nowhere and have an entire valley to yourself. You have these fascinating old gold and silver mines. Especially now with COVID and people being able to work remotely, it will be an interesting experience for a lot of people to hang out there and work for a week or two.

The surrounding Nevada desert is considered a playground in the Southwest where outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy recreational activities such as ATV riding, hiking, or exploring the historic gold mine, Socher said.

“There are a lot of off-road people out there who will enjoy the place,” Socher said. “I camped in these mountains for two or three years and I was only a few kilometers from the castle and I didn’t know I was so close. I think there will be enough curious people to be the king of the castle for a few days. I think it’s the only castle you can rent on Airbnb in this part of the world. With my favorite national park nearby, epic off-roading, a 100-year-old organ, interesting mining history and great star gazing, I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy this space.”

The property has a games room, a theater, a fountain room, a solarium, a planetarium, a wine cellar and a workshop. The observatory is used for stargazing and the nearby military test site. The light at the top is 62 feet above the ground.

The great room has a 28-foot ceiling and a reconstructed 1920s Wurlitzer organ, and pipes from an old Los Angeles cathedral are a prominent feature of the house.

The main entrance is on the second level and has doors and windows that look like they belong in a castle with their arches and the use of redwood in the doorway. The gated entrance pays homage to the “Wizard of Oz” with a maze of the Yellow Brick Road and emerald on the ground to represent Emerald City.

Socher, 37, a Bay Area resident, said the renovation of the castle for an Airbnb comes as he prepares to launch a new search engine this summer: you.com. He said people like him appreciate the desert, the stars, the solitude and the beauty of the landscape. It feels like an adventure while comforting, he said.

“I travel to national parks and I love Death Valley National Park and I love the desert and the great outdoors of America and the Wild West and ghost towns and (abandoned mines). “It’s a strange, interesting, beautiful and original place. What made someone build a castle in the middle of the desert? There is beautiful architecture in there and others not yet so beautiful, but we are working on it right now by renovating it. I like to share beautiful places with people and I probably organize events there. There is a beautiful organ. I will probably have concerts there, I stargaze and just enjoy the desert.

Johnston built the castle out of fortified steel, cinder blocks, and 16-inch concrete walls. It runs on its own solar and wind and diesel generators. It has a 4,000 gallon water tank and a 3,000 gallon propane tank.

Socher said they were installing new solar panels and working on a water source.

“People call it a prepper’s castle, but it’s not that at all,” Socher said. “He had this crazy idea that he sketched out on a napkin that he was going to build this castle.”

Johnston, who owned a plumbing business, said he built the castle at an elevation of 6,000 feet and built on a mountain for seclusion and quiet to get out of town. He started in 2000, and it took him a decade to build.

Johnston hammered the granite to pour the footings in 2000, laid the block, 24,000 in number, and fabricated the metal for the house, which has 7 tons of rebar and over 1,000 meters of concrete. He was helped by two friends.

The castle has been listed by Coldwell Banker Premier Realty. Listing agent Brian Krueger said the COVID-19 pandemic provided the perfect time to sell the off-the-grid, bunker-like fortress. He said there is more interest these days in more rural settings where people can have space.

“We are extremely pleased with the sale of Hard Luck Castle and what we believe to be one of the most unique properties sold in Nevada this year,” said Krueger, senior vice president of strategic services for Coldwell Banker Premier Realty. . “The process, while much longer than a typical sale, resulted in a willing seller, maximum exposure and a creative buyer who plans to take advantage of the property’s location and distinctive attributes so that others can take advantage of it.”

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