I have just returned from the formal “Groundbreaking” for the restoration of Seton Castle in Seton Village in Santa Fe. The Castle, Seton’s final home, was acquired by a nonprofit organization called the Academy for the Love of Learning about a year and a half ago. They have spent the time since the acquisition cataloguing the contents of the Castle and preparing for the restoration by researching the Castle’s past, raising the necessary funds for the restoration and navigating the complex regulatory path of preserving and restoring a National Historic Landmark while complying with current construction code requirements. The Academy plans to use Seton Castle as a learning center through which they will offer educational programs, conferences and seminars.
It was an unusual day in Santa Fe, colder than predicted with many more clouds in the sky than you usually think of in Santa Fe, perhaps a subtle hint of the much greater precipitation – rain and snow that Santa Fe has received in the past months. It is the first time that I can recall that a U.S. Forest Service sign indicated that fire danger was low in the area.
Around 100 people gathered for the event, including the Staff and friends of The Academy, members of the Seton family, residents of Seton Village and Santa Fe, die-hard Seton fans, a few politicians, and the architects and the construction company that are handling the restoration project.
Among the highlights of the program:
Aaron Stern, president of the Academy, gave a short history of the project and the Academy’s plans. He also read a letter that Dee Seton Barber had written for the occasion and a passage by the Chief from an early edition of The Birch Bark Roll.
Julie Seton, Seton’s granddaughter read a letter that she had written for the occasion, expressing some memories, reflections and her support for the project.
Christa Franklin, Seton’s great-granddaughter and granddaughter of Anya Seton added some reflections from her side of the family.
Eiji Fujiwara, a Japanese professor who has translated much of Seton’s work into Japanese shared his thoughts on the occasion.
A wonderful ceremony of dedication was conducted by Sanchi Reta Lawler, a teacher of meditation in the Zen Buddhist tradition who has worked for many years with mystics, shamans and spiritual teachers in Peru, India and Nepal.
A symbolic groundbreaking by Seton’s great great-granddaughter and a young resident of Seton Village.
With the conclusion of the ceremony, the clouds broke and rays of bright sunshine flooded the courtyard of Seton Castle where the ceremony took place.