Last week’s column was the first of two columns about Giddens Castle. The original 1934 article was written by Agathine H. Goldstein. The description of this somewhat enigmatic structure continues below.
“At the entrance to the cottage [mentioned in last week’s column] containing the oldest pieces of art is an ancient lamp post from the garden of Jerome Bonaparte, in Paris. The interior of the dwelling is even more exotic in its potpourri of gorgeous treasure. More than two centuries old are the twin beds of Louis XIV, King of France. The gold embellishing these two pieces is valued at more than $5000. A living room suite, from the same court, boasts of its original upholstery, and today remains in splendid condition. A Royale Aubusson tapestry, priced long ago at $12,000, hangs upon the wall; and data on the back attests to the fact that it was completed in 1747—was 106 years in the making, and was completed by three generations.”
“A complete listing of all these treasures, and the descriptions they warrant, would require volumes of illuminating actualities. Such a diversified collection could be found in few other locales. The leopard rugs, paisley scarfs, the bronzes and the porcelains, the painting by Crimoux and other famed artists, vie in interest with the helmets worn by Napoleon Bonaparte’s officers, and the gun with which Aaron Burr is said to have killed Alexander Hamilton. While over in one corner hangs a huge mirror, which once graced the bar room of a Mississippi river steamboat. And on a little table nearby are copies of Longfellow’s poems and some of Poe’s chilliest tales.”
“Artistic masterpieces of later years are housed in still another little edifice. This cottage is more like a picture gallery than the one spoken of above. Etchings, engravings and paintings by the best known masters are arresting in their wealth of beauty and diversification of subjects.”
“Gorgeous hand carved rosewood chairs, tapestries and a brass fire screen from Scotland contend with the pictures in holding the attentions of those who are fortunate enough to inspect and enjoy these artistic delights.”
“It is impossible for the average layman to estimate the real value of Mr. Giddens’ collections. No one but the expert connoisseur would attempt the undertaking of such a task. However, even though there might be a few unable to appreciate the great amount of money, time and energy expended in such a wealth of antiquities, there are many who will revel in the sights of this grand collection, and will want to spend many hours in close study with all the relics and masterpieces contained therein.”
Giddens Castle also bears the distinction of having housed the first television station below the Mason-Dixon Line. It was only experimental, but it aired its first picture in late 1929.
Two years after the 1934 article was printed in The Bossier Banner, the May 5, 1936 issue of The Shreveport Times carried the following brief report of the demise of Giddens Castle.
“Giddens Castle, the widely known frame structure perched atop one of the highest hills in Louisiana, about 14 miles east of Shreveport, near the Minden Road, was destroyed by fire early Sunday morning. The tower was first built by T. K. Giddens, Shreveport capitalist, as a replica of one of the castles on the Rhine River in Germany. Later an addition was built and the whole structure used as a night club. For a time the art museum housed in a nearby building was threatened with destruction, but it and its valuable contents was [sic] saved. The loss was estimated at $25,000 partly insured.”
Quite a few questions arise in connection with Giddens Castle. If you have any information about the “castle of dreams” we invite you to share it with the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.