Game of Thrones' George R.R. Martin wants to build castle in backyard

EXCLUSIVE: ‘All it’s missing is Jon Snow and a couple of dragons!’ Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin planning to build fantasy castle in his New Mexico backyard – but neighbors are refusing to bend the knee

  • Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin wants to build a real-life ‘castle’ in his backyard in Santa Fe, New Mexico 
  • The 71-year-old submitted plans for a fortress-like building, featuring imposing stone walls, battlements and a 27ft tower 
  • But his neighbors are objecting to the proposed Gothic-style structure 
  • ‘We thought it was Winterfell when we first saw the plans. All it’s missing is Jon Snow and a couple of dragons,’ a neighbor joked to DailyMail.com
  • Its most contested element, the tower, reaches to a height of 27ft and 6in, which is 4ft more than regulations allow
  • Martin’s architects toned down the medieval aspects in revised drawings but still need special permission from the city to start work on the ‘Water Garden Keep’ 
  • Designs for the keep’s grand hall, roof deck and ramparts draw upon the ‘defensive fortifications’ seen in Medieval castles 
  • As well as the ‘mystical spaces’ associated with cathedrals, adding ‘a hint of the exotic’ from Moorish architecture, according to the plans 

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin wants to build a real-life ‘castle’ in his backyard – but his New Mexico neighbors are refusing to bend the knee, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.

The 71-year-old creator of Dragonstone, Winterfell and the Red Keep describes his proposed Gothic-style structure as a free-standing ‘seven-sided library’ in a planning application lodged with the City of Santa Fe.

But locals say the fortress-like building, featuring imposing stone walls, battlements and a 27ft tower, is akin to something from HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones and totally out of place in a suburban neighborhood where it will spoil their views.

Martin’s architects toned down the medieval aspects in revised drawings but still need special permission from the city’s Historic Design Review Board to start work on the ‘Water Garden Keep’ because the turret is several feet higher than zoning codes allow.

‘We thought it was Winterfell when we first saw the plans. All it’s missing is Jon Snow and a couple of dragons,’ a neighbor joked to DailyMail.com.

Martin, who is currently working on the sixth Game of Thrones novel, The Winds of Winter, has sold more than 20 million books worldwide and is worth an estimated $65 million. But despite his vast fortune, the fantasy icon lives between two modest houses on the same street in Santa Fe, his home since 1979. Pictured: Martin with HBO’s cast and team of Game of Thrones

The 71-year-old creator of Dragonstone, Winterfell and the Red Keep describes his proposed Gothic-style structure as a free-standing ‘seven-sided library’ in a planning application lodged with the City of Santa Fe

Designs for the keep’s grand hall, roof deck and ramparts draw upon the ‘defensive fortifications’ seen in Medieval castles and the ‘mystical spaces’ associated with cathedrals, adding ‘a hint of the exotic’ from Moorish architecture, according to the plans 

But locals say the fortress-like building, featuring imposing stone walls, battlements and a 27ft tower, is akin to something from HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones and totally out of place in a suburban neighborhood where it will spoil their views. ‘We thought it was Winterfell when we first saw the plans. All it’s missing is Jon Snow and a couple of dragons,’ a neighbor joked to DailyMail.com. Pictured: A castle featured on the fantasy show 

They added: ‘George has done a lot for the arts and he’s very welcome here. But there is a code in Santa Fe and the buildings have a right to retain a certain historic look.

‘If they allow something like this it will open the floodgates to any rich eccentric that wants to live in a castle with a tower.’

Martin, whose fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire became the basis for Game of Thrones, owns property across Santa Fe, including a historic movie theatre and a pair of neighboring suburban homes – one with a mailbox in the shape of a castle.

The elderly writer and his wife Parris McBride picked up their splashiest acquisition in 2018 – a $3 million, four-acre gated compound in the city’s upscale Museum Hill neighborhood.

‘The Owners are approaching their golden years and have recently purchased the property to retire in,’ their December 2019 planning application reveals.

‘The Owners have an extensive literature collection and the Water Garden Keep is a new, custom library to house this collection. The Owners have an interest in history, with a focus on Medieval history.’

Designs for the keep’s grand hall, roof deck and ramparts draw upon the ‘defensive fortifications’ seen in Medieval castles and the ‘mystical spaces’ associated with cathedrals, adding ‘a hint of the exotic’ from Moorish architecture, according to the plans.

Author George R.R. Martin’s modest primary residence in Santa Fe, New Mexico promises to be less modest when his fastasy castle is built

The mailbox is in keeping with the Game of Thrones author’s favorite theme

Martin’s architects toned down the medieval aspects in revised drawings but still need special permission from the city’s Historic Design Review Board to start work on the ‘Water Garden Keep’ because the turret is several feet higher than zoning codes allow

Locals say none of the prominent buildings cited by the architects are anything like Martin’s Medieval creation

Its most contested element, the torreon (tower), reaches to a height of 27ft and 6in, which is 4ft more than regulations allow, despite the 4,234 sq ft keep being carved into the side of a hill to minimize its impact. While the initial proposal was rejected, Martin submitted fresh drawings in July, leveling off the battlements, swapping the tower’s stone finish for tan or brown stucco and lowering it to 24 ft 

The architects argue it is an essential part of the proposed building because it accommodates an elevator to whisk the elderly occupants to a roof deck where they can enjoy stunning mountain views

The battered stucco walls, stone masonry turret and chestnut corbels and doors preserve the architectural nuance of Santa Fe and borrow from some of the city’s most famous battlements, towers and historical sights, the designers insist.

Its most contested element, the torreon (tower), reaches to a height of 27ft and 6in, which is 4ft more than regulations allow, despite the 4,234 sq ft keep being carved into the side of a hill to minimize its impact.

The architects argue it is an essential part of the proposed building because it accommodates an elevator to whisk the elderly occupants to a roof deck where they can enjoy stunning mountain views.

‘We are all subject to health and mobility challenges that come with age,’ the application notes, arguing the couple would face an unfair hardship if they had to climb stairs.

‘With existing buildings and vegetation, visibility is extremely limited and only glimpses of the upper portions of the structure will be visible to the public.

‘The library structure is minimally visible from a public right of way or streetscape and will not have a visual impact on the character of the Historic Review District to the general public.’

While the initial proposal was rejected, Martin submitted fresh drawings in July, leveling off the battlements, swapping the tower’s stone finish for tan or brown stucco and lowering it to 24ft.

But the new plans were met with stiff opposition from locals on Tuesday night during a heated public Zoom meeting of the Historic Design Review Board.

‘With the notoriety of Mr. Martin and Game of Thrones, we absolutely fear that our neighborhood will become the next treasure hunt,’ the Martins’ next-door-neighbor, Mark Graham, said. ‘That his fans will be looking to find the castle.’

Vice chair Frank Katz said: ‘It is a Medieval castle and I don’t understand how we could possibly approve it.’

Opposing the application, he added: ‘We know Mr. Martin’s work. We know how that would relate to a castle keep and I could see how he would be very intrigued with the design. But that’s not the only design possible.’

The battered stucco walls, stone masonry turret and chestnut corbels and doors preserve the architectural nuance of Santa Fe and borrow from some of the city’s most famous battlements, towers and historical sights, the designers insist (pictured)

A letter signed by 43 neighbors read: ‘The applicant’s architect has made some changes to the original proposal by reducing the height slightly, changing the material to more stucco and less stone as well as changing the shape of the windows and reorienting the large window. 

‘The fact remains that the proposed building is still a prominent Castle in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Santa Fe. It WILL BE VISIBLE.’

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin wants to build a real-life ‘castle’ in his backyard – but his New Mexico neighbors are refusing to bend the knee, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal

Locals say none of the prominent buildings cited by the architects are anything like Martin’s Medieval creation.

‘Attempting to cite a downtown commercial building with elevator rooftop access approval as setting precedent for a castle tower elevator rooftop access approval in a residential neighborhood – for the purpose ‘of enjoying mountain views’ – is like comparing an apple to an orange.

‘They are both fruit, but that’s where the comparison ends. Surely it is possible to enjoy mountain views from less than 25+ feet in the air.

‘We urge the HDRB (Historic Design Review Board) to deny this application – again. Nothing has fundamentally changed with this revised proposal. Our neighborhood does not need nor want this ‘Folly.’

The board unanimously refused Martin a 4ft 6in height exemption saying his design didn’t fit in with Santa Fe. He can submit new plans or appeal to Santa Fe City Council within 15 days. 

Martin, who is currently working on the sixth Game of Thrones novel, The Winds of Winter, has sold more than 20 million books worldwide and is worth an estimated $65 million.

Views of Martin’s relatively modest existing home in Santa Fe

But despite his vast fortune, the fantasy icon lives between two modest houses on the same street in Santa Fe, his home since 1979.

One is his main residence while the second, which he calls the ‘warehouse’, is packed full of books and collectibles.

Despite being dubbed ‘the American Tolkien’, humble Martin is known to eat in family restaurants and has even invited fans over to his house.

He owns a bookstore, supports local artists and purchased the Jean Cocteau Cinema in February 2012, bringing the previously shuttered movie theater back to life.

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