Recently I received the following email:
Dear SarahI share your interest in homes. I have a project I expect you will find interesting. It is not complete but far enough along you can see where it’s going.– Pete Kelley
Tell me more!
My project is about 60 miles NW of Wausau, Wisconsin – north of a little town called Tomahawk on Lake Killarney. The lake itself is an interesting story. My great grandfather settled there about 1890 and his son Pete built the dam which created the lake. I inherited the property.
Did you build the castle all by yourself?
I did build what is completed. Not completely alone. I hire people who have special skills or equipment. Plumbing and setting precast are good examples.
I have had help from friends and family when I have asked. Of course I do that sparingly or they would stop answering their phone.
I’m an electrician which has put me in a position be involved with other trades as well as all phases of building.
How long have you been working on this thing?
In 1987 I began clearing the land, work on the road and the septic. hauling stone.surveying. I started work on the building about 5 years later.
(That’s Willy the helper dog with the family crest in the background.)
Why did you undertake such a massive project?
The ‘why’, I could give a long explanation and explain the evolution of thought but basically I was inspired and by age 19 I had mentally committed myself to it. I didn’t start for another 10 years using the time to make drawings, research, and plan.
In 2012 we poured several yards by hand. That was a big group effort.
Pete can be seen below with his hard working friends. (Pete is the one in the beige shirt underneath the chandelier)
What’s on top of the tower?
An outdoor kitchen. There is a refrigerator under the counter and it is pretty much above the bugs with a nice view.
The entire tower was encased in scaffold, I’ll guess 7 years, while it was being built.
The base of each turret weighs about 2000 pounds and took 2 guys 3 days to do each. they are poured in place. I made a steel form that weighs about 400 pounds. We spent one day to assemble the form, level and anchor it. A day moving material and a day running the little mixer and filling it.
Is Kelley Castle open to the public?
We open it once a year during the ‘Tomahawk Fall Ride‘ which is a large motorcycle rally.
Although Pete stressed that the castle is nowhere near done – it needs finishing on the inside – I had to ask: Do you plan on living in the castle when it is finished?
I spend as much time as I can there. I’d like to do weddings and events there when I’m ready.I wouldn’t mind putting Halloween on the map but I have mixed feelings on that. When I started I envisioned adult Halloween but as I get older I start thinking more of a kids Halloween. That’s undecided.I’d be there today if I didn’t have to work 😉