The man who promised his son that they would one day live in a castle built three
Jean Lavender II promised his son that they would one day live in a castle one day and he delivered on a large scale with not one, but three castles.
The property now forms Highlands Castle on Lake George, New York and you can even visit it yourself through Airbnb.
In 1978, the newly divorced Lavender promised her three-year-old son that he would one day build her a castle.
Lavender said Initiated he bought the land in 1982 to build the three incredible castles, but kept it a secret from his son for decades while the buildings were being constructed.
Between the three buildings, they can accommodate 21 people, or you can rent each one individually through the Highlands Castle website or Airbnb.
When Lavender promised his son he would build the castle, he was living in a shared apartment with five other men in New York City.
“It wasn’t an environment to raise a three-year-old,” Lavender told Insider. “I took it aside and shared it with him, it’s not our home, it’s temporary.”
“I made the promise and said I was going to show my son that if I said words to him, I would follow through no matter what,” he added.
Lavender designed and built the three mini-castles almost entirely on his own, although he had no experience in architectural design or construction.
He spent years designing the castles little by little, with the help of friends and a few experts. He even went so far as to draw up the plans himself.
He was basically drawing as he went, he said, adding two or three walls at a time.
The final construction was helped by friends and family, to whom he eventually told about the project. His son’s football team even stepped in to help him.
Jason, Lavender’s son, then obtained an architectural engineering degree in five years to help his father. He said that although he knew his father would eventually build a castle for him, he didn’t expect to have to help him.
The house was a private residence for many years until Lavender re-roofed the main castle in 2008 when he fell backwards from a ladder.
He broke his leg in 20 places and was found by his wife, Yvonne, whom he married on the property in 1992. He spent eight months confined in a wheelchair and decided it was time to ‘open Highland Castle to the public.
“Being able to make up for lost income and reinvent myself was an intriguing prospect,” he said.
Yvonne has a hospitality background and Lavender said they have both been overwhelmed by the kindness of people who come to visit them at the house.
“Every guest who stays here will say thank you for opening your home to us,” he said. “My response now is simply, ‘Thank you a hundred times more for finding us and staying here. “”
“That’s my goal now,” said Lavender, welcoming guests to her mini chateaux. “I am the steward of the property.”
Lavender and Yvonne still live on the property, but her son Jason now has a house with his own family.
Ultimately, while Lavender plans to continue renting out the properties, he wants to keep them in the family.
“My fantasy would be for my son to inherit the property and for my grandson and granddaughter to be here after that,” Lavender said.