SPRINGFIELD, MO. - Bill Viles has a vision: It's of his family gathered for Christmas dinner in the octagonal dining room of his new home — the Harry Potter house at Bennett Street and Pickwick Avenue.
He reveals this to me in front of his builder, Mike Dobbs.
"We are trying," Dobbs responds.
Construction has taken longer than expected. Dobbs isn't sure if the house will be done by Christmas. That's because he keeps suggesting more Tudor-style touches for the interior and Viles keeps saying yes.
I first toured the home in November. Back then, the exterior was almost finished and work had commenced on the inside. Viles thought he would be sleeping in his dream home by now.
Photographer Nate Papes and I returned Thursday.
The house remains a major curiosity.
Viles says a guy recently drove up from Bentonville, Arkansas, to take a look.
“It’s been non-stop," Dobbs says. "I can’t tell you how many accidents have happened when people stop outside this house to take pictures. It is a parade"
I ask Viles how much the house has cost him. He tells me the same thing that he said in November: "Over $1 million."
Who's got money like that?
A former trophy-shop owner, that's who.
Viles, 66, founded BJ's Trophy Shop, 1700 E. Sunshine St., 38 years ago.
"The trophy business has been extremely good," he says.
He retired and wanted to build a trophy house — one "with lots of angles."
The focus for the interior is "English Tudor," Dobb says. The exterior is also English Tudor, with a whimsical touch of Harry Potter; the house has two turrets shaped like witch's hats.
Tudor is a style of architecture popular under the Tudors, the ruling family of England from 1485 to 1603. It is characterized by slightly rounded arches, shallow moldings and extensive paneling.
The mundane numbers are these: The house is 5,272 square feet with three bedrooms and 4½ baths. (What could have been a fourth bedroom is, instead, a billiards room.)
And now, here's a quick look at the inside, with an emphasis on the Tudor influence and what makes the house different.
All beams are coated with beeswax, which leaves a coating similar to a stain. Beeswax is produced by honey bees. The beams themselves come from the petrified wood of old, dismantled barns.
Foreign doors: The oversize front door is 150 years old and comes from Argentina. It was purchased through a Springfield antiques dealer for its Tudor-like appearance. An interior door comes from Egypt.
Faces and places: There's a lamb's head design over a fireplace. It's an English symbol of hospitality.
In the master bedroom, the carved face of Sir Galahad — on the men's vanity — stares into the eyes of the carved face of Maid Marian, which is on the larger women's vanity on the other side of the room. When finished, Viles will live here with his fiance Debbie Murphy.
The vanities include a Celtic knot in the woodwork, another Tudor touch.
Another fireplace includes two cast concrete figureheads — like the women's torsos found on the bows of sailing ships.
The master closet is larger than most one-bedroom apartments. “I have said from the beginning I wanted a big-ass walk-in closet," Viles says.
A bar is supported by two 150-year-old grand piano legs.
He also has a special room with an overhead rainmaker, spray nozzles on the wall, a heated floor and "sound reduction."
Yes, sound reduction.
The octagonal dining room is where Viles envisions the 2016 Christmas family dinner happening. The woodwork on the floor is in eight sections, mirroring the eight parts of the ceiling.
"Sunken cypress" comprises most of the flooring. I checked and, yes, this is a thing.
According to a 2014 Los Angeles Times story: Sunken cypress and pine logs can command thousands of dollars for their beautiful grains and long, straight cuts. They are being salvaged from river bottoms across the coast of the Southeastern United States.
The logs were harvested into the late 1800s. Most were lashed together and floated or towed downstream to mills. Many broke loose and tumbled to river bottoms or became embedded in riverbanks. Today, they are perfectly preserved for milling into tables, mantles and — as in the case of the Harry Potter case — flooring.
“To find an entire antique cypress floor is almost unheard of," Dobbs tells me.
Another bathroom has a toilet, bidet a urinal and a very un-Tudorlike television.
Upstairs and downstairs: "Upstairs is a whole 'nother house," Dobbs says.
The 1,200 square feet is over the separate one-car and two-car garages and the corte cochere — a covered entrance large enough for vehicles to pass through, typically into a courtyard. (This one also serves as an outdoor dining area.)
Viles's interior courtyard includes a lagoon-shaped swimming pool that will have a waterfall.
The upstairs has a third bedroom and a billiard room with Tudor-style paneling. It will eventually have plaid, Celtic carpet.
A free-standing, floating spiral staircase twists down to the theater room, which will have a 150-inch TV monitor.
The seating, when built, will be in tiers, like in a movie theater. The molding will give the room the look and feel of the Fox Theater in St. Louis.
Want wine? There's a wine room.
Guess what this is? Dobbs asks.
He points at a small alcove about 4-feet high next to a door leading to one of the garages.
"I have no idea," I say.
It's for storing a grocery cart.
"Will it be a Tudor-style cart?" I ask, joking.
Yes. It will be a Tudor-style grocery cart.
It will be a regular grocery cart interwoven with wooden strips.
For some reason, I painfully recall the $7,400 I just spent to have my roof replaced with regular, boring composite shingles.
"How much will that cost?" I ask of the grocery cart.
Viles looks at Dobbs.
"Not as much as you would think," Dobbs says.
To be honest, I don't know what to think.
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These are the views of Steve Pokin, the News-Leader's columnist. Pokin has been at the paper 4½ years and over the course of his career has covered just about everything — from courts and cops to features and fitness. He can be reached at 836-1253, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @stevepokinNL or by mail at 651 N. Boonville, Springfield, MO 65806.