Harry Barber's Miniature Castles (1920s-66)
Throughout South Hero, Vermont USA • For over thirty years, gardener Harry Barber found a unique way to blend his native country of Switzerland with his new home in Vermont. He created miniature buildings from local Vermont field stone. Five castles, three houses, and several garden structures remain in the Islands. They vary in complexity. Some castles feature glazed windows, interior fireplaces, or dungeons. Others are wired for electricity and have the capability of running water in the moat. … All his creations are privately owned, and public access is not permitted; however four out of the five castles can be seen from the road. – From a brochure issued by the Lake Champlain Bikeways.
☞ From another biker: Here is a story I heard about the creator of these little castles. … Harry Barber was born and raised in Switzerland. As he traveled his homeland and Bavaria he was attracted to the designs and shapes of the castles including Swan Mt Castle. In the 1920s he was injured in a mining accident and received some sort of monetary settlement from the government. With this money he decided to travel to the Americas. His plan was to go to Chile, South America.
Along his way he spent a night in Marseilles, France, partying with the ladies. When he woke the next morning, he had been robbed of his money.
He now had to change his plans to cross the ocean and decided to work for his fare aboard a freighter. The only freighter he could find willing to take him was headed to North America. In fact it was Canada, a far cry from South America. The freighter went as far as Montreal, where he began his journey, on foot, south. When he reached Grand Isle, VT he happened upon a young woman selling fruit. She saw that he was hungry, and offered him an orange. He had never seen and orange before and she had to show him how to peel it. He was impressed by the hospitality of the young woman, and decided to stay for a while. He asked about finding some work to earn some food and he was directed to a farm that used the Providence Island just south of South Hero. He worked there tending cows and sheep. He continued to see the girl at the fruit stand and married her and they made residence in South Hero. As he returned from work each evening, he would pick up stones to bring home to use for masonry. Between 1930? and 1966, Harry worked several jobs, but his true love was for the castles he had seen back home, and he used these stones to built many miniature stone castle masterpieces. He was commissioned to build these by both locals and the wealthy, some of which were lighted garden fountains. He took great pride in his craftsmanship and decided to try to get one of his castles displayed at the nearby museum. He tried persistently to see the museum owner so he could convince her. After several days, the owner, being annoyed by his loitering, told him they were not interested in his work. He was heart broken and so proud of his work, feeling he had lost his dream; he went home and committed suicide. But his passion lives on. There are still some of these fountains and planters displayed on the lawns of several homes in South Hero. You can see examples of his passionate craftsmanship by touring the south end of South Hero.
… – From Geocaching - The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site.