There’s no denying that the sheer elegance of Castle Ladyhawke standing amidst the natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains makes it a sight to behold. However, what makes this venue truly special as a place of love and celebration is the history held within it, paired with thoughtfully crafted details around every corner. It may have been built less than 20 years ago, but its origins and connections to both local and faraway influences make it a truly timeless masterpiece.
Completed in 2005 and named after the 1985 film Ladyhawke starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick, Castle Ladyhawke was the passion project of Kim Nord, a retired real estate developer. She sought to build a castle that had frequently appeared in her dreams as a child and, after falling in love with the town of Sylva, she found the perfect place for it nearby in Tuckaseegee. As Kim was recently retired, she intended to stay in an advisory role during the Castle’s construction. But when none of the architects she met with could bring her imagination to life, she decided to design it herself!
Most of the inspiration behind Castle Ladyhawke’s design came from Kim’s tours and research of castles in the Scottish Borders. The Scottish Borders are the southeastern most area of Scotland, where most of the Scottish-English border lies. Naturally, many castles were constructed in the area as early as the Iron Age. Some of these castles, such as Ayton Castle, were constructed as clan strongholds and military forts. Others, such as Floors Castle, were the homes of wealthy lords, dukes, and duchesses. Given the topography of the Borders, a part of a larger, hilly area known as the Southern Uplands, it was common for castles to be built on cliffs and mountainsides in order to provide unobstructed views of the surrounding area. This not only allowed clans to keep watch over their property from a tower, but offered residents beautiful views of nearby mountains, lakes, and rivers. Take Neidpath Castle for example:
See the resemblance? Not only do the architecture and stonework look similar, but the surrounding mountains and hills provide an environment nearly identical to the Appalachian Mountains. That’s not just a coincidence. The Appalachian Mountains and the Scottish Highlands and Uplands were actually once part of the same mountain range! Around 300 million years ago during the existence of the supercontinent Pangea, the Central Pangean Mountains stood about as tall as the present-day Himalayas. Over the next 100 million years they eroded significantly, cutting their size in half and leading to the formation of many deep valleys. The continents would later drift apart, leaving smaller remnants of an ancient mountain range scattered on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps this is why early English settlers felt so at home in these mountains, and why Ms. Nord’s keen-eye for Scottish architecture made Castle Ladyhawke such a perfect fit for the area.
The interior of the castle pays plenty of homage to both its Scottish heritage and its local roots. The billiard room, for example, houses a tavern-style bar that feels just like a small Scottish pub. The iconic tower is adorned with beautiful stained-glass windows designed by local artist Bobby Pace, the geode-sinks were created by local potter Garden Batten, and the murals in the Dragon Room were painted by the late Jan Adams. Much of the wood and stone used in the Castle’s construction was locally sourced as well. This local craftsmanship blends perfectly with antique pieces, such as the 14th century mantle above the fireplace in the Great Hall, and European furnishings, such as the Belgian armoire and Scottish vanities in the master bedroom. Kim even included some surprises of her own, like a hidden room behind a bookcase!
Ms. Nord, her son, and their horses would live in the castle for three years before opening it as a wedding venue in 2008. Since then, countless couples have journeyed to Castle Ladyhawke to enjoy the history, fantasy, and local flare held within it during their special day.