The Castle was a project that I needed to make, having always wanted to build a tower. As the structure came together, I realized that it must be shared with others. Since I arrived in the North Country many years ago, I felt there was a need for art instruction, and so resolved that the Castle’s purpose would be to support art, giving emerging artists a studio space and a supportive community. If we provide those things for them, they in turn could provide art instruction for local children.
The land was cleared, the foundation formed and poured, and the first joist laid in 2004. The post and beam structure began to rise in the following year. I had help at key moments from friends over the years, but completed the majority of the work in my spare time. As time passed, I began to worry that the building would not be enclosed before Mother Nature started to decay the timbers. But then, about two years ago, a friend brought two artists to see the Castle. They volunteered their time to help speed the construction, and even more importantly, they led me to see that others would help as well. Through their efforts, and the efforts of new friends, we had two successful volunteer weekends in August, 2014.
Over the two weekends, we had volunteers from seven states. Eighteen people showed on the first day. Although we had some technical glitches that first day (including a five hour power outage), we learned much, and forged ahead. We applied lath to the uppermost parts of the tower cylinder (first vertical strips and then the horizontals were bent to conform to the circle). Applying the stucco was easy for the professional plasterers in our ranks, but there was a definite learning curve for the rest of us. We had over the course of both events: four professional plasterers, several carpenters, three iron sculptors, two glass blowers, an Americorp healthcare volunteer, the owner of a green building products store, a composer of music, and more. All threw themselves into the project, a beautiful sight and most gratifying.
I thought that the project would wind down after that because of my workload, but that was not the case. An old friend, who had helped to make the forms for the foundation ten years earlier, came to the volunteer weekends and then returned. While I went to customer projects, he stayed and completed the lion’s share of the stucco. The Castle tower now has its first coat of finish. Then, a much newer friend decided to fill in the time between hiking the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, by staying the Winter here. She is creating the website and if possible, will initiate crowd funding and a non-profit status.
The name Tarleton comes from the maternal side of my family. They were Friends (Quakers) who settled originally in the Carolinas. There was another group of Tarletons that migrated to New Hampshire, and a nearby lake is named for them. It therefore seemed a fitting way to honor my family with a name that is also familiar to the area.