2012-09-18 / Front Page

Clayshire Castle: Couple’s Unique Dream Home Becomes A Reality Near Poland

by Suzanne Crabb
The Clay City News


Inside one of the rooms at Clayshire, the Wine Cellar room features a tapestry of men and women stomping grapes with their feet to make wine. (Staff Photo) Inside one of the rooms at Clayshire, the Wine Cellar room features a tapestry of men and women stomping grapes with their feet to make wine. (Staff Photo) Life in a castle! A medieval dream! Can you imagine living in a castle, not on the other side of the world in Europe but in Clay County, Indiana. That is just where Doug and Mary Jo Smock will be living out their dream. Doug, an aerospace engineer with Rolls-Royce, and Mary Jo, a pediatrician at a public health clinic in Indianapolis, visited a castle bed and breakfast in Ohio and became intrigued with the idea.

“We have been dreaming of castles for ten to fifteen years. This isn’t just an impulse,” Mary Jo said of their fantasy-like home.

After returning several times, she added, “We started thinking about doing this for retirement. We are not quite old enough for retirement yet,” Mary Jo said. “We built five years earlier than we planned on, the reason being, mortgage rates are low, we already had the property, builders were not very busy, so we said ‘Lets go ahead and do it.’”


Mary Jo Smock, resident of Clayshire Castle, shows off the costume room and a costume made by her daughter, Katie, at the age of 10. The unique room offers guests the opportunity to wear the medieval clothing as part of the surreal experience. (Staff Photo) Mary Jo Smock, resident of Clayshire Castle, shows off the costume room and a costume made by her daughter, Katie, at the age of 10. The unique room offers guests the opportunity to wear the medieval clothing as part of the surreal experience. (Staff Photo) And not quite a year later, after breaking ground last Labor Day, the couple has witnessed their dream “kingdom,” Clayshire Castle, become a reality.

Located just outside of Poland, it’s not just a home for the couple, who reside in one of the three towers, it’s a venture. Wanting to share their rare, exquisite home with the public, the couple will have two of the towers serve as a bed and breakfast.

Walking under the portcullis, the gate defending a castle in the olden days, you will walk through two large wooden doors, the main entrance to the castle. Just inside the door, a handcrafted tile design of fleur-delis will catch your eye. A favorite of Mary Jo’s, the fleur-de-lis is seen in much of the interior design.


Clayshire Castle, located just south of Poland, is the home of Doug and Mary Jo Smock. A dream that has been in the making for several years. Next year, you too can spend an evening in the castle as the couple open the doors of the castle as a bed and breakfast. 
(Staff Photo) Clayshire Castle, located just south of Poland, is the home of Doug and Mary Jo Smock. A dream that has been in the making for several years. Next year, you too can spend an evening in the castle as the couple open the doors of the castle as a bed and breakfast. (Staff Photo) Step from the corridor into the Great Hall. Mary Jo explained the tables in the Great Hall not only served as a place to eat all the meals, but also served as the sleeping quarters for the servants. The tables were broken down and straw mats were put on the tables for beds.

Musical instruments from the era, the lute and clavichord, rest in one corner of the hall. Mary Jo is skilled in both instruments. A knight watches over you from above one of the side entrances, while the other leads out to a fountain and a cedar hot tub. Only plowed soil is visible around most of the castle, but Biltmore style gardens will treat visitors to lush green intertwined with vibrant colors throughout, in the near future.

A tree maze, still young, is planted on the property as well, while a play yard is also in the plans.

Kept true to form in many aspects, the one feature you won’t find on the property that you would in medieval castles is a moat. Mary Jo admitted she did toy with the idea but realized it would not be very practical, considering water sources, and, well, there is no “need” for one.

Back inside the fairy tale structure you will find five themed rooms – two on the main level, two on the upper level, and one in the basement.

The Tournament Room, Tapestry Room, Fairy Tale Room, Wine Cellar and the Enchanted Forest Room all have unique features and deco to fit their title.

Each room has a queen bed, with a queen sofa bed, to accommodate up to four adults. A uniquely designed private bathroom, an important feature to Mary Jo, is also in each room. Open the closet to find big, white fluffy bathrobes as a special addition. Downstairs is a common area for games, some medieval, puzzles, or to simply lounge with your favorite book from the upstairs library.

An especially fascinating room is the costume room. Dresses, many sewn by Mary Jo and her two daughters, line one wall while knight armor and crowns fill other shelves.

“Everything has a story,” Mary Jo said of the decor throughout the castle as she entered the exercise room and pointed to a nearly seven-foot-tall knight in the corner, a Christmas present she received one year.

On the left, before you head up the wooden staircase to leave the basement, is a massage room that can also be used for meetings.

Katie Voges, one of Mary Jo’s daughters, did all the artwork throughout the castle and is responsible for some of the design decisions.

Don’t try to make your reservation quite yet, though, because the castle is not open for business. “We are hoping to start next spring, opening on weekends when I am home,” Mary Jo said. The couple intend to start taking reservations in January after incorporating and other business details have been handled.

Although Clayshire’s accommodations are not yet open to the public for spending the night, you can tour the unique home every Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

If you are planning to visit Clayshire Castle for an open house you won’t find it sitting along the highway. In fact, it can be a bit of an adventure to find. “People say, ‘This is so hard to find.’ That’s the idea,” Mary Jo said. “We want seclusion.”

Clayshire Castle is located at 8780 East County Road 75N in Clay County. The unique attraction can also be found on Facebook.

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