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Cassidy Webb

New River Castle is Designated as a Fort Lauderdale Historic Landmark


A castle located on the New River near Ann Murray Greenway Park, in Fort Lauderdale’s Tarpon River neighborhood, sold last year for $1.5 million. More interestingly, it was recently designated as a historic landmark by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission.

What is now known as New River Castle comes with a lot of elegance and beauty, a serene river view, and a touch of mystery in regard to the story behind it.

A Miniature Fairytale Castle

New River Castle is located at 625 SW 5th Place in Fort Lauderdale. Its most recent Zillow Listing describes the landmark as a “miniature fairytale castle with cone spires and faced with indigenous coral rock inside and out.” At just 882 square feet, this tiny castle manages to give off the confidence and gusto of something straight out of a Disney princess fairytale.

The one-bedroom, one-bath castle sits on two lots that are a combined total of 17,864 square feet. While the roof was recently updated, the inside of the castle remains true to its building origins between 1924 and 1928.

The exterior of the home is even more impressive. New River Castle offers a total of 153 feet of unrestricted waterfront with access to the Atlantic Ocean. The waterfront property is complete with four docks that can accommodate sailboats and/or yachts that are up to 70 feet in length. It lies on the widest part of New River in Fort Lauderdale.

The History of New River Castle

The original structure of the home was built in the mid to late 1920s but wasn’t converted into a castle until 1973 when the cone spires and coral rock exterior were added. In 1989, the castle was recommended for historic preservation, but no action was taken on it.

According to the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, the first documented residents of the home were tourists.

Up until 2005, the property lot was overgrown with trees and brush, so it wasn’t visible from the river. But, in 2005, new owners took over and cleared the land. The castle was once again visible from vessels on the river and available for onlookers to enjoy.

In 2005, brother and sister Richard Joyner and Kathy Leikauf purchased the home and were its owners for 16 years. They used the home primarily as a guest house and for hosting special events. However, the siblings recently went into retirement and began their search for new homeowners – or a prince and princess – to call this castle their own.

New River Castle was most recently purchased for $1.5 million on May 28, 2021. Finally, in January 2022, it was designated as a historic landmark after a 3-2 vote by the Fort Lauderdale commission.

What’s Up With New River Castle Today?

According to an article published in Yahoo News, the new owner of New River Castle is listed in property records as Cole Properties & Land, LLC. Daniel Cole, an out-of-town developer and agent for Cole Properties, specializes in luxury homes. The Sun-Sentinel reports that Cole has no plans to knock down the castle, but he does plan on building four townhomes near the castle.

One change Cole reportedly does want to make is changing the windows of the castle and possibly painting its exterior and coral rock facade. However, under the rules set forth by Fort Lauderdale’s Historic Preservation Board, he will need to get their permission first when it comes to changing the exterior.

Local residents remain skeptical about the changes Cole wants to make to the property. Since being purchased by the new owner, fans of the castle have advocated for its preservation and have been unhappy with the changes that have already been made.

For instance, a new fence was put up after the sale was finalized in 2021. The fence posts lie right in the middle of Ann Murray Greenway Park, effectively splitting the green space down the middle. This sparked controversy among local residents who claimed Cole had no right to put the fence posts up – but the city attorney’s office concluded that Cole Properties owns that portion of the park and is legally allowed to build the fence.

The Significance of New River Castle’s Historic Landmark Designation

Because New River Castle is now designated as a historic landmark, any changes made to the home have to be approved by the city commission. While Cole Properties can do what they want to the property’s land, the commission seems dedicated to preserving the beloved castle itself. More importantly, this designation will help ensure that the whimsical fortress is never torn down.


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