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The Castle (“Cap'n Till” Lester House)

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“Cap'n Till” Lester House
1918. 308 Starling Ave.

Entrepreneur Till Lester's house is a fantasy born of aggravation over the frozen pipes that occurred all too often after people began to install indoor plumbing. Lester built his two-story square house around a three-story, central utilities square set at a quarter turn from the rest of the house. As a result, the rooms have no frozen pipes but do have an unsettling five sides each. What appear to be the house's white-painted bricks are, in fact, small concrete blocks. The Castle's top floor has casement windows that open to create a sleeping porch, a popular feature in the early part of the twentieth century before air-conditioning and because outdoor sleeping was considered healthful. With its blind railings and projecting posts, the house's walls give the impression of having battlements and the house itself seems like a fortified castle. The projecting, one-bay arcaded entrance porch adds to the idiosyncratic appearance of the house.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee


What's Nearby


Anne Carter Lee, "The Castle (“Cap'n Till” Lester House)", [Martinsville, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Virginia vol 2

Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest, Anne Carter Lee and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 232-233.

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