For years, locals and tourists alike have looked way up on the mountain and wondered “what is that place” perched high above Gatlinburg. It seems the “what is it” has been a well kept secret for a long long time. Many of the myths and legends about the castle are true…
Known as The Smoky Mountain Castle, it has had a unique and storied history rooted deep in the American South. From the first day, the Castle has hosted major celebs, leaders and their families who would literally sneak away to Gatlinburg for some Smoky Mountain private time.
At an estimated cost of over $12 million dollars, the 32,000 square foot, 6 story, Smoky Mountain Castle was built in the 1960’s as a private residence for a mysterious Southern businessman and his wife and word amongst the locals is that every contractor and all of the building materials were paid for in actual cash. The Castle was strategically placed high above Gatlinburg so it would have the absolute best views in the Smokies. This iconic mansion has been the subject of mystery and intrigue since the moment its construction first began and has been the centerpiece of numerous books, articles and television segments.
The Smoky Mountain Castle is a highly secured fortress that was strategically placed so that all traffic to and from the castle could be monitored from its several lookout points. That Castle was built with numerous hidden rooms, secret passages, safe rooms, masked doorways, weapon stashes and escape tunnels. It has been said that if Al Capone were to have built a place in Gatlinburg, it would be the Smoky Mountain Castle.
Stylistically, the Castle has been accurately described by one author as “totally over the top even rivaling the far out look and feel of Elvis’s Graceland”. In fact, the Castle shared some of the same decorating and design teams that created the Graceland style and who also decorated Sinatra’s home in Palm Springs and Liberace’s Las Vegas home back in the day. The Castle was acquired in 2015 by Tennessee businessman Kent Emmons and he has gone to great measures to maintain the integrity of the original style and designin every detail of the Castle’s décor, to truly keep it authentic to it’s grand (and sometimes gaudy and cheesy) 1960’s era design and motif.
Without actually being there and seeing it for yourself, it’s hard to even imagine taking in the massive spiral staircase, the balconies, the grand parlors, dining rooms, the opulent living suites, celebrity art, the speak-easy, theater, spa and exercise room, the Hollywood “60’s style” pool area, its amazing library, the walk-in gun vault, the rat pack era poker room and lounge area and, of course, the breathtaking mountain views.
Also nicknamed the Mansion of Masters, the Castle now serves as a place where politicians, business leaders, celebrities, authors, artists and musicians regularly gather to chill out, laugh, have a great time and share their rich cultures and influence – all in the spirit of preserving, shaping and advancing the principles and values that this great country was founded on. The Castle is literally a private haven for invited friends to truly relax and truly let their hair down.
Emmons regularly invites guests to the Castle to mingle with local and world business leaders and celebrities while enjoying wine and Tennessee whisky tastings at sunset, summertime dive-in movies at the pool, private musical performances, artists, book signings and access to selected TV show tapings that take place at the Castle. Emmons occasionally opens the Castle to host charities, political and civic gatherings and business functions but by invitation only.
Emmons said “We have created a place here where like-minded folks gather regularly for fun and fellowship, to talk family, politics and business, tell jokes and swap tall tales while the kids and grand-kids explore the place having a great time.! We have fun.! Emmons noted, “We have fun up here on the mountain.
Political correctness doesn’t stand a chance here and the First and Second Amendments are alive and well at the Castle”. The Castle actually is a secret and secretive hideaway. Sitting well above the noise of the crowded streets of Gatlinburg, friends from all walks of life gather here at the Castle to relax with old friends and forge new friendships that will last a lifetime, all in the spirit of celebrating the rich traditions of the American South, by sharing creative ideas, friendship and values that contribute to shaping the American way of life.”