What Happens When Chip and Joanna Gaines Renovate a Castle

Updated: Mar. 22, 2024

The latest restoration project from the HGTV stars is the historic Cottonland Castle in Waco, Texas.

Fans of HGTV’s Fixer Upper know Chip and Joanna Gaines aren’t strangers to both small space and out-of-this-world renovations. But just when you thought there was nothing they hadn’t already done, they stepped up their game—and this time, they may have beaten every project they’ve ever done before. They just renovated a castle—specifically, the historic Cottonland Castle.

Situated near downtown Waco, Texas, the Cottonland Castle is the focal point of the couple’s new Magnolia Network limited series Fixer Upper: The Castle. While you can watch the reno as it unfolds on the show, here are some cool details about the castle and the project to know before you hit play on Discovery+ or catch it on cable.

What Is the Cottonland Castle?

Completed in 1913, the Cottonland Castle is such a landmark in Waco a nearby neighborhood was named Castle Heights. It comes with an intriguing and troubled history, according to Waco’s official website.

The first two owners abandoned the project before completion because of financial difficulties. A group of investors bought the property and hired Roy E. Land to transform it into a three-story castle, inspired by one in Germany along the Rhine River. The result? A white sandstone exterior with limestone accents and an interior featuring Italian marble and mahogany paneling from Honduras.

The Cottonland Castle passed through several more hands before public ownership via the Austin Avenue Methodist Church. For several years, much of the community enjoyed the castle through youth events and church gatherings.

Again, the building’s financial burden proved too much. In 1969 the church sold it to Jack Schwan for $50,000 (about $408,000 in today’s economy, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s inflation calculator). The Schwans repaired the home and secured a historical marker for the building before moving out in 1991. More owners came and went, and the renovations didn’t last because of the high costs of restoration for a historic home. After one group’s attempt to renovate the castle in 2014, Chip and Joanna Gaines eventually purchased it in 2019 with the intent of restoring it to its former glory.

The Cottonland Castle’s Features

The Cottonland Castle features 4,300 square feet of living space with four bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms, eight fireplaces and a pool, per an Instagram Reel from the Magnolia Network . Its heavy front door with gothic details looks like something out of a fairy tale.

Photos of the interior reveal crown molding, detailed fireplace mantles, ornate woodwork, old wallpaper and wood flooring. In the winter 2019 edition of the Magnolia Journal, photos of the castle pre-reno also give a glimpse of the fireplaces as well as the bright, latticed windows throughout.

What Will the Renovation Look Like?

Chip Gaines was all for restoring the castle from the moment he first saw it nearly two decades ago, but Joanna admits she was hesitant to say “yes” to such a daunting renovation project. And with good reason—there are many things to consider before restoring a historic home. Chip put in offers on the house for years and waited, watching other owners do little to bring the castle back to life.

The Magnolia Network Instagram account shared some insight into the couple’s vision. As with many of their projects, their goal was to blend “the past and present, beauty and functionality, [and] sophistication and charm into the design.” In the preview for Magnolia Network’s Fixer Upper: The Castle, which premiered on Oct. 14, you can see some of the incredible details the Gaineses put into the Cottonland Castle, including marble tiles and antique portraits. They clearly know what’s worth restoring in a historic home. But all their hard work hasn’t come without frustration. In the limited series trailer, Joanna notes how hard it was to find 100-year-old stone to match the facade—one of the downsides of renovating an old home.

The Magnolia Network releases a new episode each Friday night at 9 p.m. EST. The couple hasn’t revealed many clips or pictures of the completed project, so you’ll need to tune in to see the entire reno unfold.

How to Visit It

After the Gaines’s completed their renovation, they opened the Cottonland Castle to public tours from late July to late October. Unfortunately, tickets are no longer available. If you’d like to tour the castle in person, keep an eye out for updates on the Magnolia website or the Gaineses’ social media accounts.

Next, get an inside peek at what Joanna Gaines’ garden cottage looks like.