KJZZ is a service of Rio Salado College,
and Maricopa Community Colleges

Copyright © 2024 KJZZ/Rio Salado College/MCCCD
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Did You Know: Camelback Castle To Get A Makeover

Robert Pazderka, the current owner of Camelback Castle, poses in front of the home.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/ KJZZ News)
Robert Pazderka, the current owner of Camelback Castle, poses in front of the home.

Perched on the south side of Camelback Mountain is a home known as Camelback Castle. It’s like no other in the area.

For nearly 40 years, this place has sat on a mountain overlooking the Valley. It was built with mountain rocks and made to last forever. Did You Know…there are many unique features about the place, including that it was built out of rocks from Camelback Mountain?

Robert Pazderka owns the home and proudly takes me on the grounds to see the Arcadia castle up close. 

“Some of the unique things, there was a 22-person Jacuzzi in the living room with a skylight," Pazderka said. "The fireplace that actually had a waterfall that flowed down in front of the fireplace. The walls are anywhere from 18- to 24-inch thick, solid stone from the mountain with concrete and rebar — very, very much over engineered again."

The castle was built by Mort Copenhaver, who was a Valley dentist. Copenhaver purchased the land the home sits on in 1967. His plan was to build a castle. Pazderka said the doctor recruited a handful of laborers to help him build the home stone by stone chipped away from Camelback Mountain. When it was completed, it was a nearly 8,000-square-foot multi-level home with 15 rooms — including, what else, a dungeon!

“The property was said to be unbuildable and at the time he was able to negotiate, I think a purchase price of about $4,000 strictly because it was an unbuildable lot, Pazderka said. "And he proceeded over the next 12 years to produce something that’s really could never be reproduce.”

That’s because the home sits several hundred feet above the Valley. Pazderka said the outer walls soar to about 50 feet high. For 20 years he admired the fortress, so as soon it went up for sale he purchased it and is remodeling the home.

“We are keeping the dungeon and the intent is hopefully to enlarge it a little bit from its original use," he said.

As we stand on the pile of construction rubble, he says the plan is to modernize it while restoring its uniqueness.  

“We would like to kind of continue the tradition that Mort did, and that was do tours once in a while so that the public can actually come back and see and enjoy the castle," Pazderka said.

Airplanes landing at Sky Harbor seem to be flying past at eye level, that’s because this is the highest house on Camelback Mountain.

Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez was a reporter at KJZZ from 2008 to 2015.