As a teenager, Michel Guyot spent his vacation helping to restore national heritage sites in his home country of France. He studied Beaux-Arts in Paris and also devoted himself to another passion: horses.
Guyot loved the ancient architecture and castle surroundings and covered kilometers all over France looking for ruined castles to rescue. It was at this time that he bought his first castle, a ruin in Berry. He paid for it by giving riding lessons for three years.
Those efforts have helped restore the castle of Saint-Fargeau to its former glory and make it a beautiful tourist attraction.
He was amazed at the work of the artisans and wondered how these grand structures with high vaulted ceilings had been created centuries ago, long before the advent of power tools. “Anyone who goes to a medieval castle or cathedral cannot help but wonder how on earth our ancestors built such things”.
He promised himself if he ever had the chance, he would build a medieval castle in the medieval way.
In 1997, filled with a burning desire to see this dream become a reality, he set up a team along with volunteers and scientific experts. He created the concept of Guédelon consisting of building a real medieval castle from scratch, recreating at the same time the old skills required for such a construction: stone masons, stone cutters, carpenters, rope makers wood cutters, carters, and getting to finance the project thanks to the visitors’ fee.
In September 2008, Jean-Marc and Solange Mirat two French citizens who live in the United States since 1990 visited Guédelon. They were impressed with the project and thought that their land in rural Arkansas might also be suitable to serve as a similar construction site.
They contacted Guyot and offered a portion of their land for sale, an admirable place to build a fortress: a handmade medieval castle in America!
Ground was broken in June 2009 and the Ozark Medieval Fortress is open to the public since May 2010.