Medieval Iowa: how Ida Grove's Castles came to be

Medieval Iowa: how Ida Grove's Castles came to be

There's a town full of medieval structures right here in Siouxland with castles spread throughout the town.

These castles all start with a man, Byron Godbersen, the King of Ida Grove, and former owner and operator of Midwest Industries.

"He picked up a magazine in the airplane, I can't think where, what country we were in and he tore out a page and said I'm going to build this when I get home, this is going to be our house," said Bryon's wife, LaJune.

And that's exactly what he did, building a beautiful castle home for him and his wife LaJune.

Their house paved the way for Godbersen to continue his new found love of this medieval architecture.

Now all Godbersen needed was a right hand man to get his vision to come to life and that's where Ron Ladwig comes in.

"He had Wally Hanson come in and he would do an artist conception of what Byron would want, then Byron would hand the drawing to me and say this is what I want it to look like when it's done," said Ladwig.

Ladwig worked on building after building for Godbersen... starting with one of the most iconic buildings in Ida Grove.

Ladwig said, "The courier was one of the very first ones down there and it was to basically get the big towers and the look right down main street, it was pretty neat."

Godbersen's vision wasn't shared by all community members though, city officials weren't thrilled with the idea initially.

"You're always going to have some people who say why is he doing that? But after they were up, most of them thought that's pretty neat," said Ladwig.

Being from Ida Grove, I agreed with Ladwig when he says the castles are a good idea. With one of my favorite pieces of architecture being the bridge on the golf course, but what do other Ida Grove residents think of the castles?

Council member, Doug Clough said, "It's not just about Byron's ability to do it anymore it really it about our entire community surrounding around and continuing it. So for me it's a way of life and really the essence of being from Ida Grove."

"It use to be a privilege as a kid to go to the Skate Palace and see the knights and see all the castles and different things like that, you kind of fell in love with the town," said Mayor, Devlun Whiteing.

Ladwig fell in love with the castle projects and working alongside Godbersen for nearly 50 years but things weren't always easy.

"There was times we tore stuff down put it back together again, tore it down, put it back together again until it was the exact way he wanted it," said Ladwig.

But there were great times, with experiences he would never give up.

He said, "He gave me a lot of, a lot of challenges which I really appreciated cause I think it really, it wasn't a boring job, was not a boring job, that is for sure."

Godbersen's infatuation with castles has kept life interesting for his wife and her great grandchildren.

"The children at home ask her about her grandmother living in a castle and it always kind of amazes me because Sophie always says they want to know what you have hidden in your castle, you know things like that, people are curious about it, things like that, to me it's just my home," said LaJune.

While there may be no elaborate background story for why Godbersen wanted to fill the city he lived in with castles, most Ida Grove residents including myself are happy he did, because it gave our small midwest town a unique look.

Ladwig said, "I'll say I'm from Ida Grove and they'll say is that the place that has them castles? And I'll say yep that is, that's the place. I mean it's well known about the castles."

Although Ida Grove is a relatively small town in Iowa, it often finds itself popping up on lists like unusual attractions in Iowa, and best places to visit in Iowa.

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