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Camelback Castle

Orthodontist Mort Copenhaver taught himself the art of stonecutting for one single purpose: he wanted to build himself a castle. He had seen one in a movie as a child and it became his lifelong dream to live there. It took about 10 years, but by the end of the 1970s, he was living in the highest and most impregnable home in Phoenix.

Blasting rock from the nearly vertical parcel of land he purchased on the side of Camelback Mountain, Copenhaver moved each stone into place by hand. He used no machinery, but simply cut it all down to a size he could lift, then stuck it together with 50,000 bags of cement.

He got a little help here and there, employing workers from south of the border and exchanging construction projects for dental services, but he spent so much of his own time on the endeavor, he reportedly lost a wife and two girlfriends before he was finished.

The completed structure comprises eight levels of 18-inch-thick granite walls. The floor plan, which is reported to be between 7,000 and 8,500 square feet, boasts five bedrooms, seven and a half bathrooms, ten balconies and servant's quarters. Amenities include four fireplaces, a 17-foot waterfall and a dungeon with a bar. In the living room, guests will find a sauna, a 20-person whirlpool spa and a rollback roof. Plus, it's all connected with secret passageways.

Unfortunately for Dr. Copenhaver, hard times forced him to put the castle on the market after living there only a few years. In 1985, he listed it for $7 million. A buyer offered $5.8 million, which Copenhaver refused only to watch the selling price drop to $2.5 million months later. In the end, he lost the castle due to bankruptcy. It finally sold in 1989 for the rock-bottom price of $985,000.

It's still referred to as Copenhaver Castle by some, but today it's owned by Texan Jerry Mitchell,  a real estate developer who specializes in dude ranches and Western resorts. Since the bank that formerly owned the property stripped out all the medieval furniture and fixtures, Mitchell has since redecorated in his own style, adding turn-of-the-century antiques, Western artwork, Indian rugs and firearms.

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