MIDDLEBURY — Drivers heading down Route 7 south of Middlebury will undoubtedly notice a structure on the side of the road that may give the impression that one is in the countryside of Ireland rather than in rural Vermont.
This structure is Louis Nop’s newly erected metal castle, located in the backyard of his Route 7 home.
“We took a family vacation to Ireland and that’s what inspired me to build it,” said Nop, who, as the founder, owner and CEO of Nop Metal Works, knows a few things about working with iron and steel.
Nop has worked in the metal industry for more than 20 years (he started his own company in 2005), and has been involved in projects such as the Cross Street Bridge in downtown Middlebury, the ornamented fence in Frog Hollow at the Middlebury falls, and Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater. He also works with local artist Jaclyn Davidson on craft pieces for public areas and private collections.
The public also may have noticed the giant metal fish sculpture that Nop mounted on the north side of his home.
His career path has given Nop the experience in welding, architectural ironwork, and large-scale engineering necessary to initiate and complete his castle project.
“I haven’t built a castle before, but I’ve done structural jacking and steel erecting,” he said.
Unlike traditional old-time castles, which were constructed from stone, Nop’s castle is made entirely out of recycled metal tanks. It is also smaller than the structures it is modeled on, at approximately 35-feet by 35-feet, complete with interior rooms and an observation tower.
While the castle could be perceived as a large advertisement for Nop’s business, that was not the purpose of its construction.
“If it generates work that’s always a bonus, but I didn’t build it for that,” he explained.
Nop began building the structure on the Fourth of July weekend for his children, ages 14, 12, 10 and 8, who he said contribute their ideas to the design and other aspects of the castle, making it a family project.
“It’s a way to physically bring my work home with me,” he said, adding, “my goal is to help my kids understand what I do and maybe gain an interest in it.”
When asked when the castle will be completed, Nop said he wasn’t sure.
“It’s a work in progress, I do it in my spare time so it’s hard to gauge when it’ll be done,” he said. After thinking for a second he said, “No one really has free time, but you have to make time for things like these.”