Fantastical front yard: Man builds Harry Potter-themed castle in Duchesne

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DUCHESNE — It began nearly five years ago as an idea sketched out on paper — the outline of a playhouse he wanted to build one day for his children.

Wade Poulson never dreamed it would turn out like it did — a 2,000 square-foot, eight-story-tall landmark that towers above the small town skyline.

"I wasn't picturing it being quite this big," Poulson first acknowledged during a November 2018 interview with KSL when the structure was still under construction.

Poulson and his four children — Naomi, Hyrum, Noah and Aniya — were huge Harry Potter fans at the time, and he wanted to build a playhouse castle that was themed after the series of popular books and movies.

What began as a small undertaking quickly grew larger — to the point where it started attracting the attention of city workers.

"When I first called them, I told them I wanted to build a multilevel, kind of an elaborate, big playhouse and what do I need to do as far as permits and stuff like that, and they said 'I don't think you need a permit for a playhouse' and I said, 'Well this isn't going to be an ordinary playhouse,'" Poulson said. "A year later, as we're framing it up to about where it starts getting bigger, where it expands out, about a third of the way up there, then I get a call from the city (saying), 'You're going to need a permit.'"

After multiple planning and zoning and city council meetings and architectural and structural improvements, Poulson was back on track.

Though he had initially hoped completing the project would only take a couple more months in 2018, he finally finished the castle earlier this year, roughly 2½ years later.

"Yeah, it's been years in the making," he acknowledged in a recent interview with KSL.

The castle now features multiple interior levels to explore.

"We've got the dungeon, we've got a 40-foot tunnel coming up from that into the basement, it has a second floor, come up the stairs into the 'Great Hall' where we're sitting now, that's the third floor," Poulson outlined. "'Gryffindor Dormitory' is the fourth floor, up the stairs to the fifth floor where the library is and the 'Prefects' Bathroom,' up the spiral staircase to the sixth floor, and then we have a seventh floor above that on each tower room and on three of them we have an eighth floor in the columns above that."

That's forgetting to mention the 70-foot slide — seemingly the children's favorite way to exit the castle quickly.

"The slide was not my idea — it was Noah's idea," Poulson acknowledged. "I'm like, 'A slide from the top of the castle? That's crazy. We can't do that.'"

They did it.

There's a lot of unknown in my life and I want to live in the moment, I want to make as many memories with me and my kids as I can, while I can. And I think that's part of what drove the vision and the dream.

–Wade Poulson

The castle may be tall, but it appears to have not imposed on the neighbors, who ironically share the last name, Potter.

"Yeah, well, for years people have joked, 'Oh, you should name your kids, 'Harry,'" Lori Ann Potter chuckled. "The kids have been fascinated, to say the least."

Poulson said he plans to share the castle with the surrounding community.

"It's become a thing where we want to share it," Poulson said. "We give tours, we want every kid in town to experience the magic of the castle."

In the time it has taken to complete the castle, the children have grown and Poulson and his wife now have a fifth child, Liam.

Time with the children has been an obvious driver in Poulson's interest in the massive home project.

"Life is short, you know," Poulson said. "In the process of starting the castle — right after I had started it — I was diagnosed with a terminal illness — primary sclerosing cholangitis — and I think that might have affected how the project turned out after that. I still could have a long life, I might not. I could need a liver transplant in four years, I may not get a liver when I need one, so I don't know. There's a lot of unknown in my life and I want to live in the moment, I want to make as many memories with me and my kids as I can, while I can. And I think that's part of what drove the vision and the dream."

Poulson now relishes every time he cracks open a book and reads out loud to his children — something that's become a regular nightly ritual inside the castle.

They're determined to craft their own storybook ending to what's become something of a real-life fairytale.

"What we value is the time that we spend together, making those magical memories together," Poulson said.

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Andrew Adams
Andrew Adams is an award-winning journalist and reporter for KSL-TV. For two decades, he's covered a variety of stories for KSL, including major crime, politics and sports.


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