Stevens County claimed as ideal location for castle

By: 
KATIE DUNN
S-E Staff Reporter

Reno, Nevada native Marcella Yeates visited Colville last Tuesday to share with the community her dream of building a castle, right here in Northeast Washington.

“I’ve wanted to build a castle my whole life,” said Yeates.

Yeates has been an architect for 35 years. Last year she officially retired so she could follow her dream project — designing and building a castle.
Having traveled across Europe and the British Isles, Yeates has had the opportunity to visit many castles.

“I was completely intrigued, particularly with the medieval fortresses because they housed all of the functions of the community,” said Yeates. “They allowed people to build and do everything for their community.”

The fortresses kept the community safe and housed all of the craft guilds like weaving and metal working.

Yeates believes many of the skills and crafts from 1,000 years ago are no longer being taught to children.

“We need to teach our kids those skills to balance out everything else they learn,” notes Yeates. “I think that would be wonderful. Plus, the magic, the mystery and the discovery — all of this is part of this project.”

Why here?

Seven years ago Yeates decided it would be fun to build a castle and made it one of her life’s goals. She began searching for land under specific criteria.

Yeates used already established castle systems along the Rhine River, the longest rivers in Europe which flows through six different countries, as a basis for her design. She explained that many of the commodities in these older castles still work. Likewise, she wants her castle to function 1,000 years from now.

For a castle like this, Yeates said it requires a remote location, a river, a site with elevation, a climate where orchards can thrive, a steep, rocky slope and south and southeast exposure for natural daylight.

Yeates explained that castles were built out of the rock of a mountain to make it easier to defend.

On every vacation, Yeates said she traveled to Idaho, Oregon and Washington looking for ideal locations.

A few years ago she found “the perfect” 70-acres of land on the west side of Lake Roosevelt along Northport Flat Creek Road. It has the steep terrain and rocky hillside she searched for.

Intentions

Yeates is the Founding Director and Chairman of the Board for Dragon Scale Keep. She explained that DSK will be a non-profit, self-sustainable working castle, reminiscent of a medieval fortress.

While many ideas spring to mind for what the castle could be used for, the main purpose has always centered on education.

Yeates envisions the castle providing educational, hands-on kid’s camps 14 to 16 weeks out of each year.

Planned courses for the Keep include environmental sustainability, which would be connected to design and construction, and environmental education programs that focus on the local ecosystem.

Included in the educational classes the project developers hope to offer are courses based on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

An observatory is in the castle’s designs, allowing for educational programs focused on astrology, astronomy and the study of time.

“The rest of the time it will be hosting various events,” explained Yeates.

Events can vary, from camps, to renaissance fairs, spiritual retreats or weddings.

“The possibilities are endless,” Yeates said. “Maybe there will be weaving sessions for a week, a whole session on agriculture or bee keeping and honey extraction.”

A constant flow of traffic will not be going to the castle, according to Yeates. No matter the event, it will have to be scheduled.

Guests of the castle will actually be shuttled there, instead of driving individually.

Her plan is to have no parking onsite, only a space under the castle for the shuttles and hired staff.

Currently in the preliminary design, DSK is 380,000 sq. feet with room to house 300 people at maximum capacity.

Yeates said ideally, 80 kids would attend each camp.

Execution

The DSK project is still eight to 10 years out, according to Yeates.

This is a large scale project broken down into five phases, with an estimated total cost of $254,300,000.

Currently, the project is still in phase one, but funding is being collected for both phase one and two. For each phase of the project, the DSK board is fundraising as they go.

Last December, Yeates told the Statesman-Examiner that the schedule for the project is tied to the success of their fundraising efforts.

In the past two years, the project has received over $100,000 in donations, which were applied to the Preliminary Feasibility Study, the Concept Study and Architectural Renderings as well as the Topographic Site Survey.

“It’s a very ambitious project,” Yeates admits.

Recently, the initial well for site water was constructed. Now the overall site water system design and phase one initial water system design/development are underway.

The initial water system needs to be in operation by late 2018 for the DSK board to retain site water rights.

Involvement

Yeates’ said her goal for the Colville Chamber of Commerce meeting on Nov. 8 was to meet members of the community and summarize the project. She wanted to explain the reasons behind the project, what it is and how the DSK board wants to incorporate it into the community.

“We’re just at the beginning of this process,” noted Yeates. “We really need to hear any impacts and questions from this community because we need this community.

“We need all these community members' help and expertise.”

Yeates said she believes the impact on the community is going to be positive.

According to her, she is already working with locals who can help with the project.

Part of the castles' charm is that it’s meant to be fully self-sustaining. Yeates said the board wants to use, as much as possible, local designs, engineering and construction expertise and materials. Some of the consultants she’s looking at are also from Spokane.

At this point, Yeates said she’s guessing 90 percent of the construction for the project will be awarded locally. After the castle is built, the board members for the keep want to hire 20 to 25 local community members to operate the castle year-round.

Concerns

Numerous people in attendance for Yeates' presentation expressed concerns about the DSK project. Some raised issues with the logistics of building such a large project; others questioned her motives and the relevancy of a castle in the area versus something dedicated to Native Americans.

A few audience members live near the DSK site. They asked her why she chose a site out their backyard instead of an area more remote.

While Yeates could not answer all of the questions directed toward her, she did ask for questions and comments to be submitted.

According to Yeates, the intention of the Dragon Scale Keep Board of Directors is to hold a town hall/community meeting in Colville in late August or early September of next year when more information on the project will be available.

To leave feedback on the project or to ask questions, email info@dragonscalekeep.org.

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