In Regent, North Dakota, a postage stamp-sized town of 200 people, creativity and ingenuity have changed the landscape. Thanks to Gary Greff, scrap metal sculpture artist, Regent is a place that’s worth the 32 mile drive from I-94. The Enchanted Castle, a hotel, steakhouse and tavern combo, is housed in Regent’s former high school, and is Greff’s latest endeavor.
Greff is an expert at turning the old into something new and re-purposing materials to do it. Years ago, Greff, a retired school teacher and principal, noticed that Regent was on its way out. If people stopped coming, no more town. He decided to do something to change the economic landscape and changed the physical landscape to do it.
Greff’s “Geese in Flight,” at 154 ft. wide and 110 ft. tall, is the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world. From its spot on I-94. where the two- lane highway that heads through the Great Plains of North Dakota to Regent begins, the sculpture is the first indication of the whimsy and wonder to come.
From the largest tin family in the world, to the fanciful Fisherman’s Dream, the sculptures gained Greff a touch of notoriety. I found out about Greff and his work listening to an interview with him on NPR radio, and decided right then and there that a road trip to Montana should include a stop in Regent. We’ve been there three times since.
As Greff expanded the scrap metal sculpture repertoire along what he dubbed “The Enchanted Highway,” visitors did begin to head to Regent.
Still, there was more to do. That’s where the Enchanted Castle comes in.
When Regent’s students were moved to a consolidated county school leaving a vacant building, Greff saw opportunity. That’s what he does. Turn one thing into something totally different.
By re-configuring classrooms and common areas of the school, Greff created 19 thematic guest rooms with a tavern and steakhouse to round out the offerings.
The theme is Middle Ages. Greff fashioned the school’s front to look like a castle with a drawbridge entrance and a knight’s armor to greet visitors at the check in counter.
Head into the tavern and you’ll find Greff’s handiwork. Stone walls and handcrafted metal light fixtures give a nod to yesteryear but the libations are up to date and extensive.
The 19 guest rooms also tie in the Middle Ages theme with comfort. Each, whether a standard room with two queen beds or a suite that includes a hot tub has a flat screen TV, a small refrigerator, and a microwave.
To keep guests occupied, the Enchanted Castle also includes a fitness center, the school’s original gym, locker rooms and eight-person hot tubs. There is also a breakfast area where a continental breakfast is served.
If you go, you’ll run into Greff who busily serves up drinks, food and conversation while keeping a watchful eye on this latest project to keep Regent on the tourist map.
Room rates: Standard Double – $90; Standard Suite, $125; and Honeymoon Suite, $125.
Enchanted Castle Hotel
607 Main St, Regent, ND 58650
Post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein