Hammond Castle MuseumPhoto Credit : Aimee Seavey
Are there New England castles? You bet! Read on to learn more.
While European countries take the cake on all things medieval, New England hides a surprising number of castles and old ruins within its borders. Most of New England’s castles were constructed in the mid 1800s – early 1900s. During this time period, America experienced a great deal of industrial and economic growth. The owners of these luxurious homes built them as summer residences or retirement homes, and weren’t exactly shy about flaunting their wealth.
In researching this topic, I found that there are a number of castles that are still privately owned. There are also many that claimed the title “castle,” but more closely resembled large mansions or estates. With that in mind, I created some criteria for this list. (1) “Castle” must be included in each location’s title. (2) They must be primarily made of stone. (3) The castles must be accessible to the public.
The result? The following list.
Located in the Ossipee Mountain Range, Castle in the Clouds (also known as the Lucknow estate) was built in 1913-1914. The original owner, Thomas Plant, was in the shoe manufacturing industry and retired a very wealthy man. There is a small admission fee to visit Castle in the Clouds, which is open on select days between May and October.
What used to be the extravagant home of costume designer Madame Sherri burned down in 1962. Now all that remains is the stone staircase that ascends into the treetops. This forested area also boasts several hiking trails, making it a great day trip. Some even say this spot is haunted. If you listen closely, you might hear ghostly music resonating from one of Madame Sherri’s lavish parties.
This 1914 castle took 25 years to complete. It was built by William Gillette, a stage actor known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, who lived alone in his 24-room creation. The stonework of Gillette Castle is nothing short of incredible and the views of the Connecticut River are definitely picture worthy.
Castle Craig is a watchtower that was gifted to the city of Meriden in 1900 by Walter Hubbard. The tower itself is about 32 feet tall and sits more than 1,000 feet above sea level. The view is perhaps the best in the state, a must-visit in the fall for seekers of beautiful foliage.
Hammond Castle was built in the 1920s by John Hays Hammond Jr., an inventor and avid collector of Renaissance artifacts. Often referred to as the “Father of Radio Control,” Hammond developed many patents and inventions in his lifetime. There is even evidence to suggest that he was acquainted with Nikola Tesla. Hammond Castle Museum is open from May through October. You can take a self-guided tour of the castle, which still contains many historic artifacts and medieval replicas. The museum also hosts some unique events, such as a Medieval Festival in July and candlelight tours in the summer.
Oceancliff Castle, formerly known as the Bronson Villa, was built in 1864 as a summer residence for Arthur Bronson and his family. Since then, it has been sold several times. It remained a private residence until 1954, when it was converted into a Hotel & Resort. Today it’s used for a wide variety of events and has become a wedding venue hotspot.
This New England castle is perfect for a weekend getaway. Not only is the Norumbega pretty to look at, but it was also converted into a Bed & Breakfast in 1984. Joseph Stearns built the Norumbega in 1886 as a private residence. The castle overlooks Penobscot Bay and is on the National Historic Registry.
Here are some other New England castles that are worth checking out:
Have you been to any of these New England castles?
This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated.