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Mar 20, 2017 | Headlines | 0 comments

History of Bliss Castle

Headlines | 0 comments

Written by Tina Botill

Keywords: water
In anticipation of The Corcoran Journal’s 110th anniversary next year, staff has already begun combing through the archives. Throughout 2017, we will be presenting articles of interest from years past. Throwback Thursday/Flashback Friday can be found on our Facebook page, while clips that provide an additional Blast From the Past will appear in these pages. We hope our readers enjoy some of this Corcoran history!
This first story recounts the background of Corcoran’s castle, also originally known as the Bliss House, located on S. Dairy Ave. The article was first printed in the Nov. 3, 1977, edition of The Corcoran Journal.
“If I should die, think only this of me. That there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever England.”
  –Rupert Brooke 1887-1915

Perhaps that was the romantic imagining of Rosa and Guy Bliss when the couple constructed their own “little piece of England” in Corcoran many years ago.
Corcoran’s own castle, a replica of one standing in England, albeit on a much smaller scale, now stands in somber solitude on S. Dairy Ave.
Both the Blisses are gone now. Guy Bliss died in 1964 at the age of 89; Rosa followed him three years and one day later at the age of 92. They had lived in Corcoran since the early 1900’s.
Many things about Rosa and Guy Bliss seem shrouded in mystery. Few people knew them closely, and those who did have used such words as “eccentric” and “private” to describe them.
What is known is that Mrs. Bliss was a native of Wales in Great Britain. She immigrated to America with her mother after an epidemic in Wales killed all other family members. She married Guy Bliss, a native if Illinois, in Santa Barbara in 1900.
Four years later, the couple moved to the Corcoran area—a full 10 years before there was a City of Corcoran.
Bliss was a steam engineer by profession. However, soon after moving here, he became interested in well drilling. At that time, very few wells had been drilled in this area. Bliss, observing that                            was very close to the surface, and noting that most of the local water wells were artesian, and provided a plentiful supply of water as well as a “home” supply of natural gas, went into the well-drilling business.
And a thriving business it was. Bliss was reputed to have drilled over 1,200 water and gas wells during the heyday of well-drilling in an area encompassing both Kings and Tulare counties.
At the peak of his career, in 1924, Bliss is said to have built the castle.
Stories actually vary on this fact. Some pioneers say that the Bliss home was here as early as 1898, which would predate Rosa and Guy moving to Corcoran. Another is said to have attended a party in the home in 1902. Records at the Kings County Assessor’s Office indicate that construction on the castle commenced in 1914.
At any rate, the castle was built as a miniature representation of a British castle. Bliss, according to reports, had an inherent love for architecture and landscaping, which was exemplified in the castle’s classic style and the surrounding grounds.
A feeling of long-lost opulence is felt when touring the Bliss place. The house itself consists of 14 rooms. Each of the four bedrooms has a fireplace. In fact, most of the rooms in the house have fireplaces. Paneling for the walls was imported from Britain and much of the house is paneled. The castle also boasts three towers. Most evident is the front tower, which is easily seen from the road. At the foot of the main tower, Rosa Bliss had a sewing room; at the top was Guy’s radio room.
The second tower, also at the front of the house, forms part of a bay window in the family room. The third tower is at the back of the house, the lower part of it forming a crescent-shaped greenhouse directly off the home’s bathroom. The greenhouse is reached by walking through the bathroom’s glass doors, to which it is attached.
The house also contains a living room, kitchen, dining room, pantry, another greenhouse, a study and a den.
Mr. Bliss was a rock hound and although most of the rocks he collected over the years are gone now, much evidence remains of his hobby. Both greenhouses abound with stonework. The rock gardens, also gone now, had pathways that were bordered with rocks of all descriptions. An archway, made of volcanic rock, leads to the front yard, where the rock garden and a Japanese garden are located.
The gardens also contained several ponds, once abounding in plant life, which are no longer in evidence. Still standing is the miniature pagoda and a small bridge leading to it, also made by Bliss. At the edge of the garden is a bench of petrified rock.
Nothing ever seems to have been thrown away. When Alvin Odle purchased the estate 10 years ago (1967) he and members of his family found numerous articles left by the previous tenants.
Many—now historical—items and documents were uncovered, including copies of The Corcoran Journal dating back to 1910; dozens of drawers and compartments throughout the house yielded similar treasures.
Outside in the yard, in buildings and even strung along fences, were antiques of every description.
When Alvin initially purchased the home and surrounding acreage, he had hoped that he and his wife, Pearl, would be able to refurbish it and make it their home. Then Odle had surgery on his knee and was slowed up, he said. Also, he noted that it would take “quite a bit of money” to fix the place.
He is now in the process of selling the house and 20 of the 80 acres he purchased to his son, Bill.
The younger Odle has high hopes of taking over where his father left off. He would like to see the home restored and has even considered moving in himself.
He has spent the last several weeks “haunting” the house, taking along a camera. He has amassed several rolls of film in each room, has checked the original blueprints of the house and is considering how to go about the monumental task of restoration,
Odle has stated that another idea, and one he seems to desire, would be to have the state step in and make the Bliss House a state landmark.
Although the future of Corcoran’s castle seems to be in limbo, the past is firmly embedded in the stones of this small slice of England.

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