|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
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
Once the grounds were cleaned up, he started looking at the structure
itself, he said.
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
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.''