‘Fixer Upper: The Castle’ Preview: Chip & Joanna Gaines’ Ambitious Project

Chip and Joanna Gaines, as seen on Fixer Upper: The Castle
Magnolia Network

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime project,” Chip Gaines declares as he walks up a dilapidated staircase in the premiere of Fixer Upper: The Castle. Truer words…

The building is Waco, Texas’ Cottonland Castle (below). Completed in 1913 for $75,000 — the equivalent of $2 million today — the 4,300-square-foot property is one of the most ambitious projects the husband-and-wife renovation team behind Fixer Upper and the Magnolia brand have taken on.

“Jo’s had her eye on the historic castle for years, and in 2019 Chip actually bought it as a surprise for her,” says Lauren Frasca, Magnolia Network senior vice president of content and strategy. “They felt passionate about restoring the castle and bringing it back to life. Chip even talks about giving the house an opportunity to ‘stand back up straight and present itself to the neighborhood the way it was supposed to.’”

It would take another two years (and a pandemic) for Chip and Joanna Gaines to fully commit to the 11 months needed.

The Castle, as seen on 'Fixer Upper: The Castle' Season 1

Magnolia Network

One disappointment does mar the start, and that’s demo day, Chip’s oft-proclaimed favorite part of the process.

“There was very little demo, much to Chip’s chagrin,” Frasca says. Not one of the eight (!) fireplaces requires a teardown. “It was pretty amazing to see how almost all the pieces of the castle had been so lovingly kept and categorized. They really just had to be put back together.”

Well, after dealing with the plaster disaster: “Trying to match the original texture of the walls when trying to run electrical lines was so hard,” the exec notes. “A lot of time and energy was spent digging behind walls and through ceilings.”

While the castle itself offers treasures — Chip calls one pocket door “a sliding Mona Lisa” and some light fixtures “timeless pieces of art” — the place is still mostly a blank canvas.

“Jo worked hard in the design elements to source items from similarly aged buildings that told a unique story,” explains Frasca, citing floor tile salvaged from France and a cast-iron firebox from England. But there’s one castle find you won’t see in the restoration (or even want to): the bones Chip discovers in the basement, once used as the kitchen.

“We don’t know much about those animal bones,” Frasca admits, “and are pretty happy keeping it that way!”

Fixer Upper: The Castle, Series Premiere Friday, October 14, 9/8c, Magnolia Network