Gunsmoke‘s Dennis Weaver, immortalized as Chester Goode, was also a proud environmentalist in life – leading to his incredible “earthship” home.
Dennis Weaver would pass after a long battle with cancer in 2006 at 81-years-old. But in life, the Gunsmoke legend was one of the most accomplished men of his generation. Outside his Emmy, Hollywood Star on the Walk of Fame, and Presidential Award to End Hunger, Weaver held a deep connection with nature. Through it, he was able to realize a lifelong dream of building an eco-friendly home. And he did exactly this after finding out about the remarkable “earthships” of Michael Reynolds.
“We were looking to build a home that was more energy-efficient and more solar. He [Reynolds] was using discarded automobile tires. He’d found a way to make an asset out of an environmental problem, and it excited us,” the Gunsmoke icon said in an interview with Mother Earth Living just years before his death.
Weaver and his wife, Geraldine, would build themselves a Reynolds earthship home in Ridgway, Colorado, where it still stands. Designed by Reynolds himself, their home was hand-built by the Gunsmoke actor and a small crew. He put his own “blood, sweat, and tears” into the walls – which themselves are fascinating.
Every aspect of the home is built from recycled materials. The walls, specifically, are made of recycled automobile tires packed with earth. The ceiling’s exposed beams are made of beetle-felled trees. And the backside of the house is one with the mountains themselves.
“We carved out the room spaces with a backhoe,” Weaver explained at the time. “The north-facing walls of the house are actually part of the hillside.”
‘Gunsmoke Icon Dennis Weaver Built ‘Earthship’ with His Bare Hands
In total, “It took 15 months to build,” the actor and activist would cite, “and I did a lot of the work.”
But this was no boast or complaint. “It was great–a lot of fun. We used dead-standing, beetle-kill trees for the vigas,” he continues on. “Beetle-kill wood has a beautiful bluish tint to it… [But] I got very familiar with a draw knife.”
As his talk with the trade cites, the Gunsmoke star and his wife, whom he called “Gerry,” were longtime vegetarians. Their entire earthship home would contribute directly to their diet, too. The entire front of the estate holds tall windows that let the bright Colorado sun in. This not only would relegate the temperature year-round, but would also grow the fruits and vegetables they consumed.
“We have planters along the whole south side of the house, which we use like a greenhouse to grow food year-round,” Weaver told the outlet. “Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers… All the vegetables that really like the warmth. We’ve got red, ripe tomatoes in the middle of winter.”
An Outsider’s dream, to be sure; one this Gunsmoke icon perfected many decades ago.