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Step Inside the Castle a Dad Promised to His Son

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Many kids dream of owning their own castle, but John Lavender –
owner, designer and builder of the Highlands Castle in Bolton
Landing, New York – made his son Jason's childhood fantasy a
reality. After telling his (then) 3-year-old son that he would
build him a castle, Lavender delivered on his promise, constructing
it from scratch himself. Nestled in the beautiful Adirondacks and
overlooking the coast of Lake George, the stone castle sits on nine
acres of land and feels as though it was plucked from a medieval
English countryside.

Construction on the Highlands Castle began in 1982, and ever
since, Lavender has been in the process of constantly building and
renovating it to perfection. Currently, the structure stands at an
impressive 12,000 square feet and features 3 beds, 2.5 baths as
well as a two-story tower sitting area, and a “great hall” with
floor-to-ceiling windows that give you a picturesque look at Lake
George. The castle also has a music/library room, sitting room, den
and a covered terrace that gives you magical, panoramic views of
the lake. Lavender also incorporated a sense of play into his
castle design, adding a secret passageway to the downstairs
bedroom, patio and entertainment room.

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To give it a sense of old-world authenticity on the interior,
the castle is filled with antiques and collectibles at every turn –
ranging from beautiful pieces of furniture to sculptures to
hand-carved wooden knights – that Lavender started procuring five
years before he even purchased the land.

“I went out and purchased antiques year after year. And I
started to just put them in storage,” Lavender says. “I … was
committing myself to fulfill the promise [of building the
castle].”

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Attention to detail was important in the design and construction
of Highlands Castle, which features over 800 tons of stone (placed
painstakingly one at a time), custom woodworking and stained-glass
doors, all lending to its antique Gothic style. Thankfully,
however, the home does include some modern amenities that make
castle life suitable for the 21st century, including an open
concept and up-to-date kitchen, luxurious bathrooms with custom
tile work, and spacious bedrooms fit for a king or queen.

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The best detail of the castle, however, is the unmatched view of
Lake George, which Lavender says he never takes for granted.

“There’s a lot of people will ask the same question: ‘Do you
ever like get tired of looking at the view? Or do you ever not look
at it and just forget to look at it, take it, you know, just for
granted?' And the answer is no. I mean, I can sit here and tell you
that several times a day I will give thanks just for my time that
I’m able to spend here,” he says.

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