Millennium Manor Open House on Memorial Day

mm03.h3.jpgMillennium Manor – the odd stone castle in Alcoa – has its annual open house on Memorial Day.

The stone and cement house was constructed using Roman techniques, and was meant to last 1000 years. The rooms have arched roofs. When we visited the Castillo San Marcos fort in St. Augustine we saw the same type of rooms and roofs.

This BlountWeb link is down at the moment, but it has the best information I’ve found. Here’s a cached copy. This 1957 Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times story interviews builder and original owner W.A. Nicholson, and is the best source for his religious motivations for building the structure. Nicholson was 61 when he began construction, and worked on it in his spare time while working a full-time job at the aluminum plant.

This Oak Ridger story interviews the current owner, Knoxville firefighter and paramedic Dean Fontaine.

The manor is also known as Darby’s Castle, after a Kris Kristofferson song. The Knoxville Grass re-recorded the song on their album of the same name, and used a picture of the manor for the album cover.

I went to the castle as a kid when the JayCees used it as a haunted house. Melissa and I toured it Memorial Day a couple of years ago and met the current owners. Admission was free, with donations encouraged. The manor is at 500 North Wright Road, not far from the duck pond.

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6 Responses to Millennium Manor Open House on Memorial Day

  1. Dean says:

    The renovation of Millennium Manor is still coming right along. It’s taking longer than I thought it would, and nothing is easy in this place, but I finally caught a break when I hooked up with Karen. She’s fantastic- a hard worker, skilled and smart. She also brings a badly needed woman’s touch to the decorating. We are a perfect team for this. She’s even nice to look at when we take breaks, and that’s a plus. I made that first pass through the downstairs, doing just enough to get by, and now we’re doing the good, high quality, permanent work on the upstairs. We decided to finish out the 3 back rooms first, in order to have a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen to live in. A temporary door was installed, to isolate those rooms, and we pressure washed the bedroom. This removed years of paint, loose concrete, and it cut grooves into the remaining concrete. Then we built scaffolding and used a special high strength concrete mix to plaster-over the rough surface. This was not easy…not easy at all, but we now had a smooth finish that would hold paint and last a long time. So then we painted it and Karen added a metallic copper finish to the off-white ceiling. The walls are something called ‘taupe’….which looks a whole lot like ‘tan’, if you ask me. By chance we found some real marble tile on sale that worked with her plan and we put that down. It’s our first time doing tile work, and it somehow turned out almost perfect. Then we finally got to that idea I’ve always had about hiding the lights behind some ornate crown molding. It didn’t turn out to be simple and easy either, but it sure looks good. We had some custom woodwork made for the door columns, and I cut grooves into the walls to hide electrical conduit. (That’s the only job that turned out to be about as hard as expected.) We are slowly picking up the right furniture for the room, with a copper color and Rococo style. Karen made the drapes herself, and as an after-thought we put up a chandelier that, it turns out, the room really needed. We still have to make a door, finish the last bit of crown molding over the doorway, do the baseboard wiring, and finish the antique cast-iron gas burning stove. Remember- all of this is being done on a shoestring budget with 99% of the work being done by just the two of us…and we don’t know what the hell we’re doing.
    We are chomping at the bit to move on to the next room, since it seems like we’ve been stuck in the bedroom forever. In the middle of all this we’re dealing with broken water mains, lawnmowers, and the roof. The pace is picking up now, and it’s good to finally have a room done right. It’s easier than trying to explain where we’re going with the castle. Now we can just point.
    The castle has been in a music video by “Gretchen” that turned out pretty good, and it’s been on the PBS series “Rare visions and roadside revelations”. It’s in two “Moons” travel guides, a few new books, and dozens of web-sites. Some newspapers have been asking for interviews, but we never seem to get to a stopping point where we can clean up for that. Still no progress on a web site by us. Sorry it’s been so long without an update, but we’ve been real busy. Some of you (You know who you are) are still holding out with some old pictures and stuff that you were supposed to send me. Remember the ‘Open House’ is on Memorial Day, as usual.

    Dean and Karen.

  2. Adam Elliott says:

    me and my future wife was wondering if u all do weddings at the manor. we had a vendor but the place got closed down and now we are looking for a place in a rush for our wedding and she loves castles. so we was wondering if u all do that there and if so how much does it cast to have a wedding there. just email me back and let me know. think u for ur time, hope to hear from u soon

  3. Dean Fontaine says:

    You’re in luck. This year I just decided to change the direction I’ve been going in with the castle and open it up for weddings. There’s a lot of work I need to do to get it ready, but you can come see if it suits you now.

  4. Adam Elliott says:

    can we get contact information so we can talk more about it
    Think u for ur time.
    Adam Elliott

  5. jackie s says:

    my husband and i would like to come and look at your mansion. i was studying about it in a class that i’m taking. is there a charge and do you have to make an appointment. feel free to email me
    thanks
    jackie

  6. charlotte young says:

    My daughter and I were talking and we would really like to come and see what used to be granddaddy’s house.It’s been awhile since we saw it .The last time i saw it you knew more about it than I did I was just a kid when we visited alot.I don’t have any info on it,the pic Angie has you already have a copy of it .when would be a good time to come?should we wait till open house ,what May 31st .I’m glad someone got it that enjoys it.
    Thanks,
    Charlotte Young