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Live Active Cultures

Seth finds homegrown magic and a new castle to love

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That was just as true 28 years ago, when a tiny team composed of just that kind of outsider artisans undertook an audacious project, eventually resulting in my ultimate destination. At an obscure address just off the ocean along A1A, Castle Otttis(yes, with three Ts) improbably exists as if dropped from the sky straight from Scotland. Erecting the 50-foot-tall architectural sculpture from steel-reinforced concrete was a four-year endeavor, mainly because it was accomplished entirely by only four hands. Ottis Sadler and Rusty Ickes built the towering exterior structure entirely unaided (by other people or, indeed, by structural plans) over the period from 1984 to 1988. It took woodworker Lee Carpenter another three years to handcraft the staircases and balconies enhancing the airy interior.

Entering the building through the arched front door into a shrine-like space is an other- worldly experience. Past a stone shelf of spiritual iconography, spiraling stone steps lead into the breathtaking sanctuary, whose skillfully carved crucifixes impressed even this semi-agnostic Jew.

My motivation to visit this special place (which is private and unaffiliated with any denomination) was the marriage of Orlando’s Amber Penna and David Christian. Christian is a printer, and Penna is a longtime patron and promoter of local musicians. Fittingly, Joseph Martens of the Hindu Cowboys officiated, with Terri Binion serenading on ukulele and the Cook Trio providing gypsy jazz. (Sunny Raskin was there, but couldn’t be persuaded to perform.) It was exactly the kind of inspirational evening that reminds you Orlando might manufacture magic, but to find the homegrown thing you sometimes have to get out of O-town.

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