Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Academy to resurrect mission at Seton Castle site

Building's ruins from fire in November 2005 will be left as part of garden
By Julie Ann Grimm The New Mexican
12/23/2007 - 12/24/07The burned-out ruin of a historic home known as Seton Castle will become a contemplative garden, and an eco-friendly building downhill from the site is likely to be constructed early next year. The Academy for the Love of Learning is preparing to resume its work as an education think tank after more than two years of delay resulting from a fire Nov. 15, 2005. The nonprofit was midway through renovations on the nearly 80-year-old home in Arroyo Hondo when construction workers reported the fast-moving fire. Before two hours had passed, the roof of the building and much of its interior had been consumed. Today, several stone walls and other features remain from what was a 32-room home designed by conservationist Ernest Thompson Seton. Seton, who wrote more than 60 books and helped found the Boy Scouts of America, was also an artist who painted and drew images from the natural world. His family sold the estate and the nationally recognized home to the academy in 2003. The state fire marshal and a federal agency both ruled out arson, but no cause for the fire was ever determined. It took the insurance company about 20 months to settle the case, said academy founder Aaron Stern. In the meantime, efforts to rebuild the castle fell apart. "Our deepest desire was to rebuild the castle as it was," Stern said. But given the near destruction, any rebuilding would be considered new construction under Santa Fe County's development rules and therefore would need to comply with modern codes. One requirement, for example, was that the structure contain an elevator, he said.
Read the whole story here.

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