Alcoa has a castle — complete with a cannon and gargoyles and even a few unsolved mysteries.
You have a chance to tour Millennium Manor Castle at the free yearly open house May 25-27, from noon to 6 p.m. at 500 N. Wright Road.
Owners Dean and Karen Fontaine stopped recently to talk about the unusual stone 15-room home that was built to withstand Armageddon. The outside walls are at least 25 inches thick. The interior walls are at least 19 inches thick. Floors are more than 4 feet thick, and the 420-plus-ton roof is more than 3 feet thick.
The upper level has seven chimney flues, and there is an outdoor well that is six stories deep and 5 feet in diameter. A stone wall encloses the castle and the approximately 1 acre of land surrounding it.
“The house was built by William Andrew Nicholson and his wife, Fair,” Dean Fontaine said. “He was 61 when they started in 1938 and finished in 1946. They did almost all the work themselves, without the aid of machinery. She mixed and set the mortar. They had a son who lived in a house behind them and he helped.
“They believed Armageddon was going to happen in 1959. When that came and went they said ‘69. They were using biblical numbers. They had a garden, a well, a bitter orange tree — the only citrus that will grow north of Georgia, and other fruit-bearing trees,” he said.
The house was sold but sat empty for many years. Then one day in 1993, the stars lined up for Dean Fontaine.
“I was in the firehall designing a house because I couldn’t find what I wanted. I said, ‘That’s what I want! But I probably can’t afford it.’ They were asking $40,000. To be that cheap I assumed it was structurally unsound. I found someone doing their doctorate on medieval castles and she gladly looked at it. She said it was over-built by 250%, meaning you could put another castle on top of it. I filled up the curb once a week for nine weeks. It was enough to completely fill a truck each week—a dozen lawnmowers, a tiller, gutters, lots of brush. There’s actually only one crack in the whole building, which is phenomenal.”
Dean lived in the house for many years before he met his wife, Karen. Now they live a few doors down, close enough to keep an eye on their castle.
Over the weekend, they’ll be accepting donations for the upkeep of the structure. They’re also very interested in finding old pictures of the castle, especially from when it was used as a haunted house while it was unoccupied.
For more information, email Dean Fontaine at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to their Facebook page, Millennium Manor Castle.