Visiting Colorado’s Hand-Made Castle

5 min readJul 28, 2022

You read that right, hand-made. Ever heard of Bishop’s Castle?

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The project began when Jim Bishop was 15. He bought the land for this project for $450 with the intention of building a cottage with his family. As he intuitively placed the rocks together for this initial project, the neighbors joked that it look like a castle. This made him wonder, consider, and soon enough, commit to making a castle.

Now, although this is the land of the free, buildings rarely fall into the category of “freedom of speech”. Even though it should (that is a whole different article). A lot of bureaucracy tried to stop his work, scrutinizing everything about the operation, including the rocks he used (they were from the National Forest surrounding his property). The dispute was then settled. More disputes would follow originating from road signs, and a huge whole mess with the land title — but alas, after many trials and tribulations, the structure is still here and open to the public.

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Every inch of this building was a labor of love and passion. It was a quest to express the freedom to build and do what you want in your own land. Or, at least, that seems to be part of the rhetoric embedded in a composition of signs throughout the property.

As an aspiring architect and builder, I understand the frustration of the American people. Why is it so hard to build with natural materials? Why do most of us succumb to the prescribed forms of building perpetuated by lobbyists of major construction material manufacturing companies? Construction accounts for 40% of CO2 emissions — it wouldn’t hurt if single-family residences chose more natural material solutions.

You say these things out loud, and people think you are going to be living like a hobbit. Or that you will forego modern amenities. But this is so far from the truth and more of that brainwashing the building industry has successfully done.

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blog of an (almost) architect with too many hobbies