Millennium Manor Castle    
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Millennium Manor Castle
500 North Wright Road / Alcoa, Tennessee 37701


News-Sentinel - Sunday, June 16, 1996

MAN'S HOME IS CASTLE BUILT TO STAND THE TEST OF TIME

BY KEN GARLAND, BLOUNT COUNTY BUREAU

Dean Fontaine's new home has been called a number of different things.
It's been known as the Everlasting House, the Stone Castle and Stone Haven. The one he likes best, though, is the Millennium Manor, a name coined by an Associated Press correspondent who once wrote about the house.
Fontaine, a Knoxville firefighter and paramedic, bought the Millennium Manor from its owner in March 1995 because he wanted a castle. The stone house, which is on a parcel of property on North Wright Road in Alcoa, has been a Blount County landmark since it was completed in 1946.
Fontaine heard about the house and learned it was on the market. He called some people, looked at it, found out the price was right and bought it. He moved into a small house on the property at the back of the stone mansion.
``As far as moving here, when you're shopping for castles, there's very few,'' he said. ``I think the job had something to do with it.''
As a firefighter, he always checks to see how safe structures are. The only wood in the stone house was the door and window facings, so it couldn't burn down, he said.
``I spent the first year cleaning up around here,'' he said. ``There were junked cars, weeds as high as my head and rubbish everywhere. The city (of Alcoa) hauled off seven dump trucks of rubbish at one time for me.''
Once the grounds were cleaned up, he started looking at the structure itself, he said.
 

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William Andrew (W.A.) Nicholson, daughter, Victoria and wife, Fair

  ``I got an architect and engineer friend to come out and look at it for me,'' he said. ``One of them said this structure was overbuilt by 250 percent. He said the math calculations the builder used were perfect.''
The structure was built by William Andrew Nicholson and his wife, Fair, Fontaine said. Nicholson started construction in 1938 and completed the 14-room mansion in 1946.
A deeply religious man, Nicholson believed in the literal interpretation of Revelations that spoke of the end of the world, Fontaine said. Nicholson believed that a small number of people would survive Armageddon, and that he would be in that number. He built the house to survive that final battle and to survive for 1,000 years after it.
``He believed the world would end in 1969 and that 144,000 people would be spared,'' Fontaine said. ``He believed he would be one of those.''
 
The entire structure is constructed of granite and pink marble that was quarried at Friendsville. The roof is approximately three feet thick, and the floor is about four feet thick, Fontaine said. The interior walls are 20 inches thick, and the exterior walls are 24 inches thick. The arched roof, doorways and windows are constructed in classic arch-and-keystone construction, he said.
``He (Nicholson) built an arch and placed the stones in it pointed down,'' Fontaine said. ``That left a small triangular-shaped gap in the middle. He placed a keystone, a stone cut to fit it, in it, and the weight of that keystone pressing down kept the arch in place.''
Nicholson actually built forms for the ceilings of each arched room, doorway and window casing, Fontaine said. Then, he poured concrete around the stones for the ceilings and let it drain down around the stones. When the concrete hardened, it formed a perfect ceiling that
would support many times its own weight.
``My friend said you could park several tanks on the roof and just leave them,'' Fontaine said.
The structure has about 3,000 square feet of livable space, he said. It has a sauna, which he plans to refurbish and use, a two-car garage using retractable doors and its own well, which is now dry. Already thinking of it as a castle, Fontaine is calling the first-floor rooms his dungeon.
The rooms were small, and each room had a flue for a small wood-burning stove, he said. There is plumbing and electricity in the house now, but Fontaine said it will have to be replaced.
Shortly after he moved in, Fontaine continued to have visitors. One night he surprised three teenage boys who had driven onto the property, taken out a cooler of beer and proceeded to party. He walked up behind one young man as the man was relieving himself in some bushes and gave him the scare of his life. The three threw their cooler in their car and tore out of the driveway like they had seen a ghost.
One other time, he surprised a naked man and woman who had broken into the house and were in the kitchen. The two had broken open a door and tripped a motion detector he had installed in the house, he said.
Fontaine has plans to refurbish the house and hopes to do most of the work himself over the next year or so. He wants to have a den, a library, rebuild the kitchen and refinish several bedrooms.
He wants a ``great hall'' in the center of the building with a gas fireplace in one end of it. He hopes to have the deck, roof and patio rebuilt and the windows replaced before winter, he said.
The house has attracted a lot of attention since he bought it, Fontaine said. He had two days of open house for anyone who wanted to come in, he said. Sometimes, people drive by and stop and ask to see it, he said. In the year he has owned it, he has had 750 people tour it, he said.
A bachelor, Fontaine said a priority for dating anyone will be how they feel about castles.
``This is going to be a lifetime project,'' he said. ``Really, your kids and your home are the biggest investment that you make. I like the idea of investing in something that will last.''

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