Pensmore: Mega mansion, mega mystery

I actually first found out about the Pensmore mansion in Christian County Missouri (in the Ozark mountains between Springfield and Branson) from checking my twitter newsfeed. I happened to see this tweet from KOMU’s Sarah Hill:

I was also interested to read more because she re-tweeted the link from former KOMUer Robert Kessler (yay news team!). I immediately wanted to find out more about this supposed “castle” in the Ozarks. I couldn’t believe that a huge project like this was going on in mid-Missouri and I had no idea! It is designed by TF Concrete Forming Systems Chairman Steve Huff. Pensmore will also be his new home.

I followed the link to a Gawker story about the castle. I found out that it’s 72,000 square feet and is mostly made out of concrete. Wait. A mansion made out of concrete? I figured there must be more information about the new technique, so I googled the construction company to find details. It turns out that the mansion is designed to be energy neutral while also keeping residents safe in an earthquake or F5 tornado.

Pensmore even has its own website! It includes more information about the mansion’s use of solar energy. The walls harvest heat energy in their steel reinforced concrete.

I also found a Forbes article about the project that included photos of the early stages of construction.

Now I can definitely see why some Missourians assumed it was a new penitentiary! For me, one of the most interesting aspects of this story was that it was a secret for months. The Forbes article reports that there were rumors that Missouri native Brad Pitt and his family were moving into the mansion. It’s also interesting that, despite the mansion’s massive size, Huff intends to use it as a single-family home. The total cost of the project is also under-wraps. In true castle form, I think the bridge crossing the Woods Fork Creek to Pensmore creates the effect of having a moat.

Along with heating sustainability, I also found that the mansion uses geo-thermal heating and wood-burning with trees grown on the property. If Pensmore’s technology is successful, I think it will be interesting to see if more homes will be built with the concrete structure.

The meaning behind the mansion’s name is also appropriate. Just as provoked new ideas about sustainable living, as well as fueling the rumor mill, Pensmore is derived from French to mean something like “more thoughts.” Just reading one tweet about it made me want to take a second look. I’m excited to read about new developments in the construction and see the finished product on Pensmore’s website.