Texas Traveler: Pignataro Castle

Most people haven't even heard of Santa Fe, TX, so you wouldn't expect them to know that there was a real life castle in the small community. It's one of about 30 castles in Texas, the closest one to Houston, and its origins are a bit of a mystery.

The house is on Highway 6 west of I-45. It has been around at least since the 1970s, long enough that the neighborhood had built up around it and now includes thematic street names such as Castle Drive, Windsor Ct. and Dover Ave. The story on Castles of the United States is that the original owner had the place built to emulate a villa in Spain.

The most notable thing about the building, other than the fact that it's a castle in the middle of the Texas countryside, are the white concrete statues dotting the front lawn.

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On the HAIF forums, (which, if you are at all interested in Houston history, you should be reading daily), user isuredid provides the text of a 1981 Galveston Daily News article that says the home was built by the second wife of Galveston entrepreneur John Christensen not long after his death in the mid-1930s.

Pignataro was the name of the family living in the home at the time of the article, apparently restauranteurs in the Clear Lake area. The story helpfully chronicles the updates they'd made to the house, including the addition of a swimming pool, and that their furniture was imported from Sicily. HAIF sleuths concluded that the Franco Pignataro was the concrete artist responsible for the horse sculptures added to the estate's front lawn.

So, no murder mysteries or hauntings to speak of, but still, a real, live castle inhabited by real live Italians in the outskirts of Houston. Who would have known?

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