Castles of Ida Grove – Ida Grove, Iowa - Atlas Obscura
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Ida Grove, Iowa

Castles of Ida Grove

An eclectic assortment of medieval architecture in a small Iowa town. 

At first glance, it looks like there’s an eclectic medieval village randomly plopped within the American Midwest. Castles dot the town. Armored knights stand guard at its gate. And, perhaps most oddly, there’s a merchant ship parked atop its lake.

The quirky architecture belongs to Ida Grove, Iowa, a rural town with a population of just over 2,100 people. It’s the work of Byron LeRoy Godberson, a local farm boy who became rich after founding a company called Midwest Industries.

Godberson clearly loved castles. Under his instruction, the buildings built for his company took the shape of the medieval-style structures that look as though they’d be better suited for 12th-century Europe.

His vision left Ida Grove with an assortment of unusual structures. Its shopping plaza, newspaper, and skating rink all look like castles. There’s even a medieval drawbridge over one of the creeks. Though Godberson has since passed away, his legacy remains cemented in his unusual creations.

In addition to all the castles, Godberson also oversaw the construction of an eight-acre artificial lake, which he named after his wife LaJune. The lake, which used to be a cornfield, is home to his half-scale replica of the HMS Bounty. The ship is based on the model he saw in the film Mutiny on the Bounty.

Know Before You Go

The GPS coordinates and address lead to Skate Palace, one of the castle-themed buildings.