Probably most people will read that the city for Millennium Manor is Alcoa and automatically think aluminum – and they’re right. There’s an Alcoa plant right across the street from this picture. The gentleman who built this house (it took him from 1937 – 1946) was William Andrew Nicholson and he worked there.
But you can look at this picture and tell already – plus how many houses take eight or nine years to build, right!? – that it isn’t an ordinary home:
It’s called “Millennium Manor” because his intention was for it to survive Armageddon, plus 1000 years. Seriously.
But I have to stop here for a second: if you believe in Armageddon (Revelation chapter 16), which means the final battle of the world between good and evil – the Almighty vs. all the nastiness – are you really planning on being in a position where it matters to you if your house is still there?
I hope that doesn’t come across the wrong way. I can see someone building a house to survive acts of nature (tornadoes / hurricanes, floods, etc.) but surviving…well, gracious…the book of Revelation?
It seems, though, after reading about Mr. Nicholson that he believed that the world was going to end in 1959 (then when that didn’t happen, he refigured it to 1969) and he and 144,000 other people would survive another thousand years. So yes, for him I guess it did make sense.
Remember when we had the whole Y2K thing? I worked with a man, an engineer, who was completely otherwise sane but absolutely believed that the world was going to change forever so he stockpiled years worth of food and supplies and taught himself how to dig wells and actually hired himself out to other concerned citizens to dig wells for them before everything was going to fall apart.
It was a little odd running into him after the new year.
From a 1957 article:
It is a fortress-like stone dwelling of 14 rooms and was hand-built by Nicholson and his wife over an eight-year period. It is known locally as “millennium manor and “the house that faith built.”
“It cannot rust or rot.” Said Nicholson, whose keen blue eyes and white hair make him look like a patriarch in a striped sport shirt, “and if nothing wrecks it there is no reason why it shouldn’t last a million years.”
And Nicholson himself is serenely certain that a million years from now he will be happy, alive and content with his house and lot.
His reason is simple. He loves Jesus Christ and he accepts as a statement of literal fact that Biblical promise that whosoever loves Christ will have everlasting life.
“I believe in the Bible, and I believe in life,” he said. “I believe in preparing to live instead of preparing to die.”
So it was that in 1938 the kindly carpenter and his wife, who had borne him 10 children, began at the age of 61 to build an eternal shelter for an eternal life on earth.
There was to go into it nothing that could corrode or decay- neither wood nor nail. Only cement, rock and Tennessee pink marble.
Nicholson worked eight hours a day at his trade, then worked six to eight hours more on his home. He pushed 300-pound marble stones to their place in a wheelbarrow. His wife poured the mortar. The job took them eight long, exhausting years.
The house, completed in December, 1946, is two stories tall. Its outside walls are from two to three feet thick, its ceiling three to five feet. It has two bathrooms furnished with huge stone and cement chairs. The roof alone contains 432 tons of rock.
“I haven’t been sick for 40 years. I don’t worry about the atomic bomb- or anything else. I let nothing bother me.
I keep healthy by serving God the best I know how. I don’t go to church. I used to belong to a church, but got out. They didn’t like my views.”
One of Nicholson’s views that have led some of his neighbors to regard him as eccentric is his conviction that the world will be destroyed soon (probably by 1959), but that 144,000 righteous, including himself, will be saved.
However long he lives himself, the rugged, picturesque home he built stands as a temple of love- a poor man’s pyramid- the testimony in stone of a mighty faith that stirred a simple heart to a dream of timeless grandeur.
A Knoxville fire captain and paramedic, Dean Fontaine, bought the house in 1995 for $40,000 and he’s been working on restoring it ever since. He has an open house each Memorial Day for tours.