Fort Mill Times

Heritage USA’s ‘King’s Castle” demolished

The “King’s Castle” – a relic from Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Heritage USA theme park – came tumbling down in Fort Mill on Saturday morning.

The two-story castle was demolished voluntarily by its owner, MorningStar Ministries led by Rick Joyner.

Crews had already torn down much of the castle in mid-March but York County halted the demolition because MorningStar Ministries did not have a permit for the work.

In March, Joyner declined to comment on the demolition permit.

MorningStar wanted to tear down the castle, he said then, to make room for something “the whole community could use.”

No authorities interrupted Saturday’s demolition.

Developer Earl Coulston, who owns part of the property and is building a town house community nearby, recently obtained the permit, officials said.

Fort Mill resident Eric Kinsinger said he could not have been happier to see the castle gone. He and his family live nearby in Baden Village.

Kinsinger watched two bulldozers take down the structure in less than an hour on Saturday.

“One down, one to go,” Kinsinger said, referring to a tower still on the property – also part of the Bakkers’ vision for a religious theme park in the 1980’s.

Kinsinger operates a website called “Tear Down The Tower” and often lobbies the York County Council to force MorningStar into improving its property.

The tower is at the center of a lawsuit between MorningStar and York County.

The county claims the 21-story tower is a “nuisance,” according to a legal response to a suit MorningStar filed in January.

MorningStar and the county struck a development deal in 2008 in an effort to repair the tower which was once intended to be a hotel for the Bakkers’ resort and theme park.

The Heritage USA park plans fell through in the late 1980’s when Jim Bakker left amid a scandal with the organization he founded.

The development deal with the new owners fell apart when York County claimed that MorningStar defaulted on its contract.

MorningStar is suing to dispute the default claim and says the county has caused the project “significant financial harm.”

MorningStar bought the tower, castle and surrounding land and properties for $1.6 million in 2006.