But now it appears that, come March, I'll be able to revisit my old haunt whenever I like. (Tovrea has gone all 21st century on us; reservations for its garden tours must be made online at http://phoenix.gov/parks/tovrea.html. Every penny of the $15 admission price goes toward upkeep of the castle and its gardens.)

Tovrea Castle: Not really a castle at all.
Jamie Peachey
Tovrea Castle: Not really a castle at all.

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The city's plans for Carraro's castle in the desert are ambitious: Rather than just coming out to gawk at it, fans can rent this "world-class park and historical attraction" for social functions, as well. Everyone else, Lamm says, can come to the castle to see a part of Phoenix's history. But whenever I look at this madly impractical structure stuck way out in that colossal cactus bed, I see neither a party place nor a piece of Southwestern history. I see a history of dashed dreams, abandoned and then reclaimed in the land of opportunity.

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