Millennium Manor , Alcoa, Tennessee

Millennium Manor , Alcoa, Tennessee
“Why dont you and Andrew go see the Haunted Castle or the Millenium Castle in Alcoa?” said Annika on Memorial Day. “ For a change Andy has some time off from the hospital and will be able to take you. We can go later to Fort Loudon lake which has a beach for the kids,” she said.

I looked up the place on the net and it was only 11 minutes away and sounded quite quirky. Would make a great story too I thought, in typical fashion.

So off we went in Andrews gorgeous blue BMW, which he loves to race if possible and take out only a couple of times a week for a spin to work.

“ Let’s go Ma,” he said, “ here is some sun screen and bug spray.” Being a Doctor he is so careful as he sees so much of skin cancer in the hospital which is easily preventable.

We were invited into the house by the owner of the house for the last 22 years-- Dean J. Fontaine. He is a Firefighter/Paramedic for the Knoxville City Fire Department. He was born in Columbus Ohio and moved to Tennessee in 1976, attending Sevier County High School. He joined the Army Infantry and did a tour of duty in the former West Germany before returning to East Tennessee. He is dedicated to repairing the castle and anticipates it to be a life-long endeavor.

We had to wait till we became a group of 10, which was not long before we were taken around the house with a young guide, just out of school. It was interesting to note that Millennium Manor was built from June 1937 to December, 1946, by William Andrew Nicholson and his wife Fair, the original owner, who moved to Blount County from Georgia to work at ALCOA Inc. He and his wife Fair bought the Wright Road property in 1937, and in 1938, at age 61, Nicholson began building the castle completely by hand.

They had moved to Alcoa, Tennessee, from Pickens County, Georgia, where he was a mason and carpenter. In 1937 he got a job with the Alcoa plant as a replacement for striking workers. Mr. Nicholson started construction of Millennium Manor at the age ripe old age of 61 while maintaining a full-time job at the Alcoa plant across the street.

All work was done by the Nicholsons without the aid of machines, a remarkable feat since both were thin and small of stature. The Nicholsons did not belong to a church in Tennessee, but they were very religious people who believed in a literal interpretation of Revelations 20:6..."Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

Millennium Manor was built to survive the prophesised Armageddon and a thousand years beyond. We were told the architecture was Roman, because of the arches, but having visited Rome, the castle was far from Romanesque in style. The light colored stone used to build the walls, is Tennessee Pink Marble found in nearby Friendsville, Tennessee.

The "Arch and Keystone" visible over doors and windows was visible throughout the entire house, including the floor and roof. They first built a wooden "form," shaped like the inside of the building. A rubber tarp was laid over this form and stone was stacked on top of the form and a "Keystone" inserted. Cement was poured over the stacked marble rock, and the cement oozed through to the rubber tarp and hardened. Wrinkles from the rubber sheet can still be seen on the inside ceiling. The form was then removed, at which point that part of the roof was finished.

In theory, it should be possible to remove ALL cement from the entire building and have it continue to stand, since the only function of the mortar was to fill gaps and not to bear a load said our guide with a laugh.

Over 4,000 bags of cement were used, and in some places agricultural lime was used instead of sand for less water seepage. The thinnest inside wall is 19 inches. The thinnest outside wall is 25 inches .The roof is 3 feet thick, and the floor is 4 feet thick. The roof alone supposedly weighs 423 tons.There were 14 rooms and a two-car underground garage.

In 1950 Fair Nicholson died of cancer at age 72 and the couple had been married over 50 years. William Nicholson was quoted as saying, "It was hard to be parted from her after so many years. My wife believed in me but her faith in eternal life was weak. She tried to believe, but she had her doubts. There came times when she talked of dying." Fifteen years later, at the age of 88 and nearly blind and deaf, Nicholson joined her in Clarks Grove Cemetery. The day before he went to the hospital he told the pastor from the church next-door to the Castle that "if God doesn't intervene soon, I will die."

The Nicholsons left 10 children, but none came to live in the stone house after William Nicholson's death. Soon vandals had stolen or broken everything inside. Juanita Shaw and her son bought the building to use as a meeting place for a group called the "Odd Fellows," and as a rental property, called "Haunted House" for the "Jaycees." Millennium Manor was later purchased on February 21, 1995 at auction for $39,000 by Dean Fontaine.

Fontaine is renovating constantly and all the work is done by him. This is a private residence, but each Memorial Day, Fontaine holds an Open House and that is how we got to visit.

The manor was built during the early 20th century, and the owner and his wife believed that as long as they worked on the property, they would never die. They eventually passed away, but many believe that their spirits still linger on the property. People have reported hearing disembodied footsteps in the house and have reported voices when no one is around. A ghostly apparition has been seen in the house and in the yard walking around, and strange lights have been seen moving around the property late at night. Motorists driving past report seeing faces at the windows of this unusual stone house.

“ I have not yet been able to locate his grave in Clarks Grove Cemetery, because the gravestone has been taken,” says Dave Fontaine dejectedly.

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