NIMBYs Stop Game of Thrones Author George R.R. Martin From Building the Castle of his Dreams

The Santa Fe Historic Districts Review Board refused to grant an exception to its height limits to accommodate a seven-sided keep.


Winds of Winter is not the only George R.R. Martin project that might go unfinished. On Tuesday, the Santa Fe Historic Districts Review Board turned down the famed fantasy author's application to build a castle on his property.

Martin and his wife, through their Water Gardens Trust, had applied to build a home and seven-sided tower-like structure which would house a library, the Daily Mail first reported. That tower, in order to accommodate a stairwell and elevator, was six feet higher than what was allowed in the historic district in which the structure would be located.

Housing the elevator within the proposed tower (the application calls it the "Water Garden Keep") would forestall the need for "unsightly box-like protrusions" on top of the Martins' castle, their application says. It also says the elevator is necessary to accommodate the couple's limited mobility.

The proposed castle had been revised substantially since it was first proposed (and rejected) in January 2020. Publicly viewable arched windows were removed, the Water Garden Keep's exterior was changed from stone to a stucco adobe finish, and the building's parapet was changed from a Gothic to Pueblo style.

These changes were enough to make the structure compliant with the district's design standards, but the board still got to decide whether the tower deserved an exception to the district's height limit.

Asked by a board member what the architectural style the proposed keep would be, Historic Preservation District Manager Lisa Roach replied: "It's not a typical proposal that we see. It's an accessory structure is all I can say."

The structure's unusual nature is what ultimately doomed it with both the board and the neighbors.

"It is a medieval castle, and I don't understand how we could possibly approve it in this style," said board member Frank Katz, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The New Mexican also reports that 40 neighbors in the surrounding area signed a letter opposing the project, writing that "the fact remains that the proposed building is still a prominent castle in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Santa Fe."

Another neighbor compared the proposed project to the fictional castle Winterfell, telling the Daily Mail that "all it's missing is Jon Snow and a couple of dragons."

Perhaps if Martin had a few dragons at his disposal he would have been able to fend off the opposition to his project. Instead, a historic review board is telling him his castle is not quite up to code.