A Conversation with Jim Bishop, Creator of Bishop Castle
Below are some of Jim Bishop’s thoughts that I managed to capture in an interview a few years ago. Jim built Bishop Castle, which is a world-renowned one-man construction project and a marvel to behold by anyone’s standards. Learn more about the castle and its creator by clicking here. The following reflections Jim shared with us certainly help to define his legacy.
“Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, muscle for muscle, this is the world’s greatest castle. It’s a home for everybody. It’s a monument to hard-working people, it’s everybody’s home.
“I’m Jim Bishop, castle builder. You are at Bishop Castle, 9,000 feet in the San Isabel National Forest. When I was a young man, I was sick and weakly as a kid, a kind of inferiority complex type deal, skinny, all that, didn’t do well in school, bashful, didn’t participate in sports, scared to ask a gal out on a date, and I look out and see these blue mysterious mountains from Pueblo, and I wanted to get in ‘em, see what was there, adventure. And I’d take, uh, I was creative and destructive at the same time. I’d take kitchen matches, that strike anywhere, and a good part of the stuff’s like explosives. As a matter of fact, you can pack it in and hit it, it’ll explode on ya’, blow up in your face. I’d take the match sticks and glue, and I’d make little wooden villages and churches and everything, and then put bombs in it and blow it all up. That’s what I did as a kid. Oh, I don’t know. I guess I’m a little bit nuts. But I’d rather be nutty than normal. Anything—I don’t wanna be normal.
“My knowledge of art, what you see here, engineering, architecture, it’s more ingenuity than engineering. It’s a God-given thing. If you look at it close it ain’t beautiful. It’s beautiful, but it ain’t, it ain’t . . . I don’t believe in perfection. It’s 160 foot tall with no cranes, just these two hands. Ground level there’ll be a community kitchen, and a staircase up out of this dungeon, and I got the, uh, Roy’s Tower going up, that’s named after our little boy who got killed in the woods playing. A main foyer where people could sit and drink coffee and visit, then the second level will be a museum, and then the third level will be a general purpose hall with pipe organ in the front end–I got two pipe organs. My dad’s hobby was music and organs. I can envision it. Amphitheater seating arrangement on the mountain for Easter Sunrise, all that, on the forest.
“There was a time when I was like a zealot, just, just nothin’ but obsessed with it. Morning to dark, take it to the dinner table, everywhere. Never, never quit. I’d even set up a tent and lift weights after doin’ this. Just, just that drive to be strong, and healthy, and, why pick up a weight and set it down? Build somethin’ while you’re lifting weights. I betcha Arnold Schwarzenegger don’t have a weight-lifting trophy that big. That’s a pretty big weight-lifting trophy.
“It’s a monument, it’s a citadel of freedom, it’s the only true castle left in the world because it’s been under siege and it wins all the battles with no courts and no lawyers. There’s not a penny owed on that. No bankers, no loans, no credit cards, no blueprints, no building permit, no inspectors, and no taxes. And if I don’t wake up in the morning, it’s fine the way it is. People say, ‘When are you gonna get it done?’ Only I determine when it’s done because it’s my art form.
“The important thing is your family. Your mom, your dad, your kids, your wife, that’s the important thing. That’s the castle. Family.”