Behind Lance Mihalick’s castle-to-be is the story of a dragon.
Ongoing renovations on the Salmon Arm resident’s downtown property, located on the corner of 2nd Street and 2nd Avenue SE, is undoubtedly turning heads as a 10-metre tower with battlement now stands connected to his family’s updated 1930’s bungalow.
If all goes as according to plan, in five-years time the little house will no longer be recognizable. In its place will be what will look like a two-storey castle, complete with concrete walls stamped to look like aged stone, arched doorways and windows, a faux portcullis and a waterfall that will feed into a little moat.
Mihalick is doing the renovation on his own, with the help of a friend and a family member, applying skills he’s honed as an artist and self-taught carpenter to bring his vision to fruition. And while he recognizes even now the project stands out in the neighbourhood, Mihalick isn’t afraid to do things differently. This is part of a personal philosophy that began with a Grade 6 art project, a vase and a dragon.
“My dad had a vase that he bought at someplace and it had a dragon on it, and I thought it was a cool dragon, I’m going to draw the dragon,” explained Mihalick. “But I couldn’t get the detail into a small, little picture, so I got the big tablecloth paper and I painted a dragon. It was probably pretty hokey… In my mind it was probably awesome, but I’m in Grade 6 right. But I do remember everybody else was showing their pictures at show and tell, and when it was my turn, I rolled mine out and everybody went, ‘ooh.’ It had that ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ factor, and I thought that’s what I’m going to do – do stuff bigger all the time, better…
“So no matter what I do, and I’ve always told my son, no matter what you do in life, make sure you do it the best, the best of your ability. Because if you say, ‘Ah, that’s good enough,’ that’s all your life is going to be is good enough. If you do it the best, your life will be the best.”
The renovation began with the house itself, as it had neither a foundation nor insulation and was in poor shape. While doing the work, Mihalick learned from a passerby that the home had once been a church.
“So this was a church built in 1938, it was the Full Gospel Presbyterian Church,” said Mihalick. “The reason I know that is because when I was raising the house, this older gentleman came by and he said, ‘You know your house used to be a church? I said was it? And he said, ‘yeah,’ and he went and got a book from the library and showed me and it’s in the archives and there’s no mistaking this is the house.”
Mihalick’s inspiration for the castle-styled home came to him years ago while painting the murals of old English street scenes in the Mall at Piccadilly.
“I’ve always liked the way it had the stone and wood,” said Mihalick. “I did a lot of research to paint that mural and the more research I did… I just thought that castles and that were cool, I’ve always like them.”
Veronika Mihalick, Lance’s wife, is supportive of the renovation, which she views as forms of self-expression and personal growth. The Mihalick’s five-year-old daughter, Lanika is also onboard, offering input for the design of her future bedroom in the tower’s top floor.
To others, who might think differently of the castle reno, Lance asks they wait to see the completed project.
“As it comes together, and people drive by – they’ll be bringing people by to look at it whether they like it or don’t like it… But once its starts coming together, I think the town will start to back me up,” said Mihalick.
Asked what he’ll do in five years when the castle is complete, Mihalick said it’s a surprise.
“I’ve got more things up here,” said Mihalick, pointing to his head. “My biggest regret is I’m not going to live long enough to do all that I want to do. But there’s more to come.”