Kildare House ‘Fortress Fence’ Draws Ire, Double-Takes From Huntsville Neighbors and City Leaders
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – If the grandeur of the Queen Anne castle style architecture of the Kildare Estate in north Huntsville wasn’t enough to make passersby on Oakwood Avenue stop in their tracks to gawk – a new and emerging feature is now contributing to the home’s wow factor.
According to neighbors, over the weekend, owners of the 17,000 square foot 40-room mansion finished in 1889 – in an effort to preserve privacy – have begun building a massive fence around the entire property.
In spots along the front of the property on Kildare Street fence posts soar in excess of 16 feet high.
The property owners obviously deem the privacy measure necessary, but some are calling the fence an out-of-place - and more pointedly - confusing eyesore.
One WHNT News 19 viewer emailed saying:
"I drive past the historic Kildare House every day. The people who own it are to say the least weird but they have crossed the line to mentally disturbed. They are building a 15-foot fence around the entire property. I can understand a privacy fence, but this is insane. It looks like a fort is being built. If I tried that the city would be on my neck before the first board went up. Who are these people and why are they allowed to erect this abomination?"
We did some digging and found that on July 25th, the city entered into a license agreement with Kildare Estate property owner Dwight Wright. The property is subject to city right-of-way down the east boundary of the property along Kildare Street. The agreement indicates Wright submitted a formal request to the city council which granted him the ability to construct a fence along the city right-of-way in order to 'secure the property and prevent trespassing.'
Wright has the city's blessing to construct the fence as stipulated in the survey map along the boundary of the 1.14 acre lot. But what about what some describe as the structure's 'abominable' height?
Another viewer wrote she felt the fence was 'way too tall for the city’s code.'
City engineer Shane Davis says when the city entered into a use agreement with the Wrights, they assumed the structure would be more like a four-foot decorative picket fence - not a towering battlement parapet.
Davis says the city has entered into a stop motion order on the project and that work on the fence was stopped Tuesday. "It will come down," Davis said.
WHNT News 19 attempted to gain comment from Wright or the resident of the home about the concerns that led them to what some characterize as 'drastic' measures to preserve privacy. When we rang the doorbell of the mansion, no one came to the door.
When we returned just hours later, a resident flashed a mirror into our camera lens but did not respond to our questions.
Search 'Kildare Mansion' on YouTube and you'll find several videos of experiences from people who have been rebuked when passing by the property.
Shane Davis says the city is in contact with the property owner's attorney in discussions about how the fence can more closely resemble the intended final product.