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Williamsville castle estate sale rankled neighbors

An estate sale drew thousands of antique-hunters and curiosity-seekers over three days in late April to a privately owned castle on an island in Ellicott Creek in Williamsville.

It also caused headaches for the neighbors on Oakgrove Drive, near the castle.

Grass along the public right-of-way was torn up by vehicles, visitors parked in front of fire hydrants, and residents who objected were subjected to verbal abuse, several told the Village Board on Monday night.

Estate sale offers rare peek at hidden Williamsville castle

During the estate sale, customers were asked to park along Oakgrove because the castle's driveway is narrow and easily congested.

Daniel Bauer said he was concerned about emergency vehicle access. A fire occurred at a home on the sale's final day, but police had  restricted parking to one side.

Bauer and about a dozen others requested permanent one-sided parking for Oakgrove "for the safety and well-being of residents."

[Gallery: Estate sale offers rare peek at hidden Williamsville castle]

Trustees said the request would be referred to the village's Traffic and Safety Committee.

The castle, alternately known as "Cambria Castle" or "Oechsner's Castle," was built on 1.3 acres of Dream Island beginning in 1917 by a German-born mason named Ignatz Oechsner. Oechsner was "homesick for his native village Oxenforte in Germany on the Meine River" and "determined to build exactly the medieval castle that was so familiar to him in his early boyhood," according to the 1965 book "A History of the Town of Amherst, New York" by Sue Miller Young.

Fossil rock from the Town of Holland was used to build the castle, towers and moat. Oechsner died in 1942, having never completed his dream.

 "It took him 25 years and although he never lived in it, enough was finished so that people were attracted to the castle and gardens, for which a small admission was charged that helped defray expenses," according to Miller Young.

The property was then neglected, changed ownership several times and badly damaged by a fire in 1956 leaving only the walls just after it was purchased by H. Reginald Davies and his wife, Winifred. The couple "painstakingly" restored the home's interior in 1958, Miller Young wrote.

The latest owners were Davies' daughters, Mildred O'Rourke and Onalee Davies, said Lowther, who visited the castle several times at their invitation. O'Rourke died several years ago and Onalee Davies resides in an assisted living facility.

The property was designated by the village as a local landmark in the early 1990s.

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