A fabulously ornate French-style chateau, built for the late founder of Pilgrim’s Pride chicken products and referred to by locals as “Cluckingham Palace,” is set to go under the auctioneer’s hammer next month.
Set in 43 landscaped acres, the sprawling 18,300-square-foot mansion in Pittsburg, East Texas, a 90-minute drive from Dallas, was custom-built for billionaire Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim. His Pilgrim’s Pride empire grew to become one of the biggest suppliers of poultry products in the world.
Pilgrim died in 2017, and now his son Ken has decided to auction the home through Concierge Auctions. The online sale kicks off on October 15, running through October 18, though until then, the estate is being offered through local agents for $8.95 million.
Pilgrim co-founded and built Pilgrim’s Pride with his brother Aubrey from a small feed store in Pittsburg, Tx. back in 1946. Taking over as CEO following his brother’s death in 1966, he built the company into a poultry products powerhouse, supplying chickens to everyone from Kentucky Fried Chicken to Walmart to Wendy’s.
Costing an estimated $15 million to custom-build back in 1992, the Pilgrim estate was designed by Dallas architect Richard Drummond Davis as a “French Renaissance dream home.”
Constructed and continuously-maintained with no expense spared, the main house oozes gold-leaf, marble opulence and over-the-top decoration.
The two-story, chandeliered entry is a dizzying collection of towering marble pillars, delicate crown moldings, a Tara-like marble staircase, and intricate wrought-iron balustrades.
With more than 18,000 square feet of interior space on two levels, there are rooms everywhere, spreading out from the seemingly mile-long hallways.
There are six bedrooms in total, 10 full bathrooms and 10 half baths, formal and informal dining areas, formal and informal reception areas, a huge craft/hobby room, home offices and a screening room. In many ways it feels more like a boutique hotel than a house.
Maybe the piece de resistance is the vast indoor pool area that Pilgrim had modeled after the spa at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia’s White Sulphur Springs.
Reached from an upper floor via an ornate, wrought-iron spiral staircase, it features a huge heated pool, glass-domed drinks bar, numerous seating areas, sauna and hot tub, and adjoining fitness room. A wall of arched French doors opens out on to the huge lawns.
No doubt a small army of grounds-keepers is needed to tend the estate’s immaculately manicured gardens, designed by Dallas landscape architects Naud Burnett & Partners.
As far as the eye can see there are azalea gardens, neatly trimmed hedges, vast varieties of trees and shrubs, along with three ponds and a meandering creek. The property even has its own fresh water well for watering.
“The estate was custom-built to my father’s exact specifications, with superior materials and craftsmanship. Our family has enjoyed it for many years and now we feel it’s time for another family to enjoy it,” says Ken Pilgrim.
Click here for video look at the Pilgrim Estate.