Web Site Tracks a Crowning Achievement

The New American Castle project combines luxury building and Internet innovation by documenting the construction of a modern-day castle through an interactive Web site.

April 01, 2002


The New American Castle home page features links to monitor construction progress and learn about product sponsors.

The New American Castle project — a shared venture of marketing firm The Big Picture Agency LLC, builder Thomas Vanacore & Co., architect Hans Lohse, and castle homeowners Kim and Patricia Baker — combines luxury building and Internet innovation by documenting the construction of a modern-day castle through an interactive Web site.

“We felt this was such a unique project, it could be interesting to many people in a number of ways,” says Patricia Baker, who’s also president of The Big Picture Agency. “One, there’s the daunting, overwhelming task of building a home — a million and one decisions to make about everything. I thought the Web site would be an interesting study for people who are in a similar situation, to look at how we make those decisions as future owners of this castle.”

Thomas Vanacore was enlisted by the Bakers through word of mouth. He’s using modern technologies to build the 10,000-square-foot, British-style castle in Southwick, Mass. The home is scheduled to be completed late this year, and Vanacore projects its value will be in the multimillions.

“We’re using lightweight concrete in innovative ways with other new materials,” Vanacore says. “Building techniques and technologies that you would see more in large-scale industrial buildings for durability and strength, we’re putting them in the residential setting, and I think that’s the thing that’s going to set this project in the history books.”

The Web site, www.newamericancastle.com, features an area where viewers can observe the construction process firsthand through digital photography. It also has an area where product sponsors are highlighted.

“Through the Web site, our sponsors are benefiting from a large amount of exposure to both trade professionals and consumers,” Baker says. “Our goal is to provide a terrific ROI — branding and increased sales — for every company involved with the New American Castle.”

Planned additions to the site include a castle diary and an in-depth medieval history.

After setting up clear guidelines about site safety, film scheduling and protecting proprietary methods used during construction, Vanacore viewed the Web site as a great opportunity.

“It’s good for artisan builders like us,” he says. “Work done by hand is sometimes little appreciated. People are not attached to what goes into building things for them, whether it’s a piece of furniture or a house, and the Web site may give an opportunity to see what’s involved and look at some of the traditional practices that have produced architecture through the ages. It’s a modern world, and you look in various places for opportunities. The Bakers are creating an opportunity for themselves and other people involved in the project.”

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