Saturday, May 29, 2010

Medieval castle in Arkansas Ozarks?

Yes. Under construction using only the tools they had in 1300! Wall Street Journal Boone County Judge Mike Moore has seen plenty of dreamers promise the world to this humble corner of the Ozarks. Developers have talked of an amusement park, a Nascar racetrack, a golf course lined with condos. None of that materialized. So when a dapper Frenchman stopped by his office a few years back to sketch his vision of building a medieval castle in the forest, Judge Moore scoffed. "I was like, 'Yeah, yeah, I'll believe you when I see the moat," he recalls. "Well, now I see the moat." Actually, just a scale model of the moat. The real thing hasn't been dug yet. But construction of the castle itself is under way. The first layers of hand-hewn rock are rising from a hillside clearing. The turrets are taking shape, and the arched entry that will one day support the drawbridge. You can hear the plink of chisels, the creak of wooden carts, and the grunts of local laborers who are building the massive fortress by hand, using only tools available in the 13th century. Which raises the obvious question: Why? It all begins with the Frenchman, Michel Guyot, who has been obsessed with castles since he was a boy. For years, he renovated medieval ruins. In 1997, he set a grander course: He would build his own crenellated château in the Guédelon forest in Burgundy. To finance the project, he opened the site to tourists. It has been self-sustaining ever since. The Guédelon castle, which is about halfway built, has drawn visitors from around the world, including Jean-Marc Miret, a French expatriate living in the Ozarks. He was so taken with the concept, he urged Mr. Guyot to build an American version on his estate in Boone County, Ark. "We went on the Internet to check, where was this Arkansas?" says Noémi Brunet, Mr. Guyot's wife and business partner. Her conclusion? "It was the middle of nowhere." It was also irresistible. Mr. Guyot and Ms. Brunet visited and fell in love with the remote county, best known for its annual crawdad festival. "It's green and lovely, very authentic, very pure," Ms. Brunet says. ...

No comments: