Woodstock Castle Makes for Unusual Tale
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The divorce has not provided the only intrigue surrounding the castle. About six years ago Mark began exploring operating several businesses on the property. He created a website, castle-models.com (long since taken down), that advertised the castle was available to rent for $125 an hour to serve as a backdrop for photo shoots.
Delia P. Fey, Woodstock’s town planner and zoning enforcement officer, wrote to Mark regarding the website. “There were (a few years ago) advertisements for websites indicating that he wanted to have a business there,” Fey says. “He didn’t have approval for that so he was required to take the websites down.” Mark also complied to her request to stop advertising the castle in association with any businesses.
Mark has also explored getting approval from the town to use the castle commercially as a banquet hall for themed parties or weddings, and looked into getting a bed-and-breakfast license. Again, he wasn’t successful as Woodstock has a height maximum of 35 feet for nonresidential buildings, “or about two-and-a-half stories,” explains Fey, adding that the castle is “clearly taller than that.” Mark applied for a variance to that regulation, but was denied.
Lord of the Realm
The number Mark is listed at does not work, nor does a number and email provided by Black, Mark’s attorney for the New York child support case. Hoping to connect with Mark himself, I decide to storm the castle gates (figuratively, of course).
I arrive on a recent rainy and chilly fall afternoon. The castle can be seen from the road through evergreens and mist, making it seem simultaneously mysterious, majestic and almost comically out of place. I approach the wrought-iron gate. Through it I can see there are multiple cars parked in the driveway including a limousine and a fire truck. There is a number posted on the gate. I call; there is no answer, so I leave a message on a generic voicemail. I wait a few minutes, then leave.
Later that day my phone rings—it’s Mark. He is polite and even friendly, but tight-lipped.
“I designed it and manufactured a lot of the components, it was a struggle building,” he says of the castle. But he’s clearly reluctant to provide more information about his unusual home. He asks if he could have someone cowrite the story with me. He says, “I’m worried because there’s been so much BS written about it.”
After I say no to a cowriter, he says he’ll call me back. He doesn’t. Three days later I try him again. Mark answers and again is friendly without providing details about the castle. He says he will have someone call me back later. Two days pass. I call again. No answer. About a week later I call one more time, a woman answers and says Mark will call back, he doesn’t.
Though Mark has not broken his silence about the castle, many of the issues surrounding it seem to have been resolved. In February 2013 his divorce with Galt became official. In March, Mark and Galt jointly moved to retain Sidney Horowitz, Ph.D., as a consultant to counsel both parties and as managing psychologist for the family.
Town officials in Woodstock report there are no current indications that Mark is violating any zoning issues. First Selectman Allan D. Walker, Jr., says “I really haven’t heard much about [the castle] lately. As a matter of fact, I kind of forgot about it.”
Bellman, the building official for Woodstock, says Mark deserves the same consideration as any other homeowner in Woodstock. “He’s just using it as his personal residency, so it’s just like any other house in town,” he says of the regal castle on the lake. “He’s got a right to his own privacy.”