Sunday, December 25, 2005

Seton Castle Unlikely to be Rebuilt

Seton Castle unlikely to be rebuilt
Group that owns historic building plans to still use land for education
By Julie Ann Grimm The New Mexican
The historic Seton Castle — destroyed by fire this fall — probably won’t be rebuilt, but the nonprofit educational group that owns it plans to continue to use the land. State fire investigators have yet to determine what caused the Nov. 15 blaze that left the 32-room home in ruins and blanketed Seton Village south of Santa Fe in thick smoke for most of the midday. The Academy for the Love of Learning was two-thirds finished with a $2 million restoration project when the fire left standing only the building’s original stone walls. The castle was to be a space for children and teachers and to hold conferences on environmental and cultural issues. Embedded artwork and original woodwork had been cleaned and refinished, replacement windows were removed and restored to look more like the originals and a new radiant-heat system and floors had been installed — all of which perished in the fire. A work crew that was inside when the smoke appeared escaped without injury. “While the fire wrought changes in the plans and timing for the academy’s center on the land at Seton Castle, our vision for affecting culture change in education is very much alive,” academy founder Aaron Stern wrote in a letter to supporters earlier this month. The castle, built and named by naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton about 70 years ago, was a private home until 1998. In 2003, Seton’s family sold the property to the academy. Fortunately, at the time of the fire, hundreds of writings, artwork and other historic artifacts that belonged to Seton had been removed from the home. The academy plans a public showing of the work next fall in Santa Fe. It also plans to hold a series of public meetings to explore how it can best meet the “needs and longings that we share for a right education for children” Stern wrote. “Woven into this process will be an exploration of the next steps in creating on the Seton land a new Academy center to support our work.” The building was insured for fire, and the academy is working to recover some of its investment from its insurance company. One of the foundation’s major donors made a quiet commitment to match any donations received before March 31, the letter says. To reach the academy, call 995-1860 or log on to

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