The Story of Castle Gwynn, Home to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival
France, Wales, England – certainly. Nestled high in the Alps overlooking the moors of Scotland – absolutely. But turrets in Tennessee? Not likely, you say?
If that’s your final answer, then you apparently have never driven the scenic stretch of State Route 840 near Arrington and Triune, where a white stone and brick structure rises through the trees on the west side of the road. It looks strikingly like, well … a castle.
And, in fact, it is. It’s Castle Gwynn, a startling replica of a 12th-century Welsh border castle and the private home of Nashville-native Mike Freeman, a portrait photographer, and his wife, Jackie, a retired schoolteacher. It’s also the location of the annual Tennessee Renaissance Festival each May. Scroll through the photos below to learn some interesting information about Tennessee’s very own castle:
Castle Gwynn’s owner had been dreaming of building it since high school.
A work in progress since 1970, Castle Gwynn began as a product of Mike Freeman’s imagination in a high school architecture class. A teacher instructed students to sketch their dream house.
“I started drawing the plans for a medieval castle,” recalls Freeman. “In 1980, we broke ground on it.”
For Freeman, the question was never “if” he would build his castle – it was always “how.”
“If you’re willing to work hard, anything’s possible,” he says with the glint of experience in his eye. “People think just because I live in a castle, I’m rich. But for perspective, consider the fact that I work 12- to 18-hour days, and it has taken us 26 years to build the castle so far. I pay for it as I go, and when I run out of money, I stop working.”
Following his high school graduation, Freeman spent 10 years establishing his photography career, doing research and looking for land on which to build his castle.
“After talking about it for 10 years, I either had to build the castle or become the biggest liar in Tennessee,” Freeman says with a chuckle.