Securing a ‘Game of Thrones’-Inspired Castle
Every security or fire alarm installation comes with its own set of challenges; but one Chattanooga, Tenn.-based security dealer found himself faced with an actual castle — complete with 12-foot thick stone walls and an owner who was meticulous about details.
While it doesn’t have an official name, Pendell Meyers, owner, Meyers Security, calls the installation the “Game of Thrones castle” because the owner who had it built actually makes his living selling replica weapons from the show and is a personal friend of the author George RR Martin, said Meyers.
Chris Beasley began his affiliation with the popular TV show and book series in 2006 when his East Lansing, Mich.-based company, Jalic Blades (already a maker of collectible swords based on other popular franchises such as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars) bought the official license to manufacture prop replicas for the Game of Thrones fantasy series. “What I do is manufacture prop replicas,” he explained. “I don’t make the swords [for] the show. But if you are a fan and want to own a copy of the swords you see on the show, we make that.”
As the TV show began to soar in popularity, so did his business.
So when Beasley moved to Chattanooga in 2015, he set out to design his dream home — or castle, in this case. He described the structure as “gothic. There are lots of influences for it, but it is not designed after a specific castle. Castles are expensive and large, so I kind of went simple with it. It is a square box with four towers.
“It is a military structure, not a palace. My first floor is raised 10 feet off grade. The window height is above that and they are just wide enough to shoot an arrow through. My doors are solid steel. The house is very, very secure.”
Although he described the structure as “simple,” when it came to securing the facility it was anything but that. While Beasley knew he would need to secure his castle beyond the medieval measures already in place (with the exception of a moat), he did face a few curveballs.
“Security was always going to be a thing, because when you build a big, famous house you don’t want to become a target,” he explained. But the fire marshal complicated things. “Fire wasn’t a thing I thought about because it is made of stone. But the city made me do all the fire stuff as well.”
Fortunately for Beasley he had made a connection with a local security dealer shortly after his move. “I had relocated my business from Michigan and in the building I bought Pendell was friends with the guy who sold it to me and he stopped in one day. I didn’t [need to] shop around. He was a nice guy.”
Meyers’ company is no stranger to large projects, doing both commercial and residential security. “I asked to bid on the castle,” Meyers recalled. “I went over and it was pretty far along when I got there. I started by quoting cameras and the burglar alarm system.” As it turned out Meyers didn’t get the camera contract, but he did get both security and, ultimately fire — largely based on his recommendation of a DSC Neo system from Johnson Controls. The DSC LTE Universal and PowerSeries Neo LTE Alarm Communicators offer flexible communication options that work with LTE and existing 3G networks.
By the time Meyers looked at the castle it was already mostly built, with walls that were 12 inches thick on each side and concrete and steel rebar in the middle. “We needed to use wireless because it was already built,” Meyers said. “There was no way we could hardwire.”
However, not everyone thought it would be possible. “Several people thought wireless wouldn’t work,” Meyers said. “I knew if anything will work it would be DSC Neo. They came to test it and put the control in the basement. They tested on all four levels and it tested out fine. I knew it was the strongest available.”
Meyers installed wireless contacts on all the doors, and keypads in key areas such as the garage entry, master bedroom and a safe room in the basement. “There is an elevator in the front and a stairwell in the back that he wanted a keypad on,” Meyers said. “He wanted motion detectors, so we put in three or four of those, plus a few glassbreak detectors, as well.”
The fire alarm systems came later with smoke detectors and heat detectors; the wireless functionality was critical when Beasley’s insurance company, Chubb Insurance, determined that it wanted extra heat and smoke detectors on third and fourth floors. “We were able to add those wirelessly,” Meyers said. He used DSC for the fire alarm as well, with the wireless smoke detectors communicating to the DSC panel.
While the system was sold on the wireless benefits, Meyers did, in fact, do some hardwiring on the project in the basement, “because we thought we could, and to save on batteries,” he explained. “The most challenging thing from our end was hardwiring the basement because we had to do some trenching and drilling. It is almost impossible to drill through this wall unless you get lucky and miss the rebar and concrete.”
That wasn’t the only challenge faced by the security dealer. “Everything was special up there,” Meyers said. “It is located on a mountain. There is no water run up there so they had to dig a well. From the size of it, it looks like a commercial building. Everything was so different because of the size — the enormity of the building.”
Despite its size, Meyers said the key was to just treat it like a big house. “It is a house, but it just so happens to be a castle. His house really is his castle.”
For Beasley the results have been exactly what he was looking for. Since it was completed almost two years ago, Beasley and his family have been happy with the solution. “What matters to me is that it works,” he said.