Now you don’t have to travel to UK to see castles, since there are several castles you can see in America. They were mostly built in the 19th and early 20th centuries by millionaires as residences or purely for folly. They are not as old and historic as those in the European countryside, but they are also stunning! And here is a wonderful news, they are now open to the public for general admission or tours.
Let’s plan our cross-country castle road trip!
1. Boldt Castle
Location: Heart Island, Alexandria Bay, New York
History: This castle in The Thousand Islands was built in 1900 by millionaire hotel magnate George C. Boldt as a summer dream home. The house is still fitted with period furnishings, and the grounds include Italian gardens, a tower fortress, and a dove cote
Visit: The castle is open to visitors daily and accessible by tour boat.
Location: Gloucester, Massachusetts
History: John Hays Hammond, Jr., a prolific American inventor, built this medieval-style castle between 1926 and 1929 to serve both as his home and a museum for his collection of Roman, medieval, and Renaissance art. The castle is now a museum that displays the collection in addition to Hammond’s inventions. The building features a great hall, indoor courtyard, Renaissance dining room, library, and secret passageways.
Visit: The house and museum are open for visiting Tuesday through Sunday.
FLICKR, ERIC KILBY
Location: Pollepel Island, New York
History: Bannerman Castle was built in 1901 by Frank Bannerman, a Scottish immigrant who settled with his family in Brooklyn, where he began producing arms. One son, David Bannerman, spotted the island while canoeing and the family bought it and constructed a mock Scottish castle to use as an arsenal — not the most inviting use of a castle. That was the first of many developments that made the island dangerous. A fire in 1969 left the castle in ruins, and the building continues to be damaged by storms. There are several tour options on Bannerman Castle’s website, but visiting is not for the faint of heart. The official Historic Hudson River Towns website plainly warns: “Do not attempt to visit Bannerman Island. At this point it is a very treacherous combination of buried hazards and dangerous wall conditions.”
Visit: Despite warnings, the castle is open seasonally on weekends for guided boat and kayak tours.
Location: Doylestown, Pennsylvania
History: Henry Chapman Mercer, an Archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian, built Fonthill Castle from 1908-1912 as a home and a museum for his collection of tiles and prints, mostly famously the Moravian tiles. The castle is a mix of Medieval, Gothic and Byzantine architectural styles. It’s twin site, the Mercer Museum, also houses Mercer’s collection.
Visit: Both Fonthill Castle and the Mercer Museum are open for visiting daily.
FLICKR, JASON RAIA
Location: Calistoga, California
History: In 1994, winery owner and Italophile Dario Sattui began building an authentic 13th century Tuscan castle which would function as a winery. The castle is complete with a drawbridge and moat, and the interior is decorated with frescoes.
Visit: The castle is open for tours (which include wine tastings) daily.
Location: East Haddam, Connecticut
History: William Hooker Gillette — an actor, director, and playwright — built this castle in 1914 as part of his estate, called the Seventh Sister. The outside looks like a ruin, but the inside is full of modern innovations like built-in couches and sliding tables. There are also sixty pictures of cats. An elaborate 3.2-mile railroad with mini trains also winds around the property.
Visit: Situated in Gillette Castle State Park, the castle itself is open for visiting daily.
FLICKR, JOE MABEL
Location: San Simeon, CA
History: Hearst Castle was the brainchild of American newspaper publisher William Randolf Hearst. He dreamed of building a retreat he called La Cuesta Encantada (“Enchanted Hill”) on his family’s property. Finished in 1947, the castle is complete with two ornate pools, gardens full of exotic flowers, and antique ceilings, not to mention Hearst’s large art collection.
Visit: The castle is open for tours daily.
FLICKR, BIG DATAW POINT
Location: New York, New York
History: This castle was designed in 1865 by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, meant to be a purely ornamental sight in the middle of Central Park. Since 1919, the National Weather Service has used it for a weather tower. Inside, there is a nature observatory. Views from the castle include the turtle pond and the open-air Delacorte Theater.
Visit: Belvedere Castle is free and open to the public daily.
FLICKR, DMITRY KOCHETOV
Location: Galveston, Texas
History: This Victorian castle (formerly known as Gresham Castle) was built by lawyer and railroad entrepreneur Colonel Walter Gresham and architect Nicholas Clayton from 1887 to 1892. The Bishop’s Palace gets it’s name from recently serving as a Catholic bishop’s residence. Although it may be classified as Victorian, the house is a hodgepodge of different styles and building materials, including rare woods, colored stone, cast-iron galleries, stained-glass windows, Romanesque and Tudor arches, and bronze dragons.
Visit: The Bishop’s Palace is open for visiting daily.
FLICKR, J R GORDON
Location: Moultonborough, New Hampshire
History: Castle in the Clouds, also known as Lucknow Estate, is shoe manufacturer and millionaire Tom Plant’s mountaintop estate, built from 1913-1914 high in the sky in the Ossipee Mountain Range. The building is an example of Arts and Crafts architecture, focused on achieving harmony with nature. According to the Arts and Crafts movement, the house is relatively small and modest, but it is filled with innovations such as jigsaw floor, a self-cleaning oven, and a central-vacuuming system.
Visit: The castle is open for visiting every day. You can take a trolley up the mountain.
11. Lyndhurst Castle
Location: Tarrytown, New York
History: This romantic Gothic Revival house was designed in 1838 by Alexander Jackson Davis, and has been the home of former New York City mayor William Paulding, merchant George Merritt and railroad tycoon Jay Gould. The house overlooks the Hudson River and has a wealth of decorative arts.
Visit: The house is open for tours Friday through Monday.
12. Loveland Castle
Location: Loveland, Ohio
History: Also known as Chateau Laroche, this castle was Harry Delos Andrews after returning from World War I. He was declared dead from spinal meningitis but miraculously recovered, only to return home and find that his fiance had married another man. In 1927, Andrews turned his attention to building a castle for his Boy Scout Troop — The Knights of the Golden Trail — in the style of the ones he had visited in Europe. In the name of tradition, members of The Knights of the Golden Trail still guard the castle today. The architecture is a combination of German, French and English styles, and houses a collection of weapons. The castle is also rumored to be haunted by ghosts.
Visit: The castle is open for visiting every day from April through September, and on weekends from October through March.
13. Castle Farms
Location: Charlevoix, Michigan
History: Castle Farms was built in 1918 by Albert Loeb, acting President of Sears, Roebuck and Company. The house is modeled after the ancient stone barns and Renaissance castles found in Normandy, France. It was a working dairy farm also used to display the latest farming equipment available through the Sears and Roebuck catalog. A few years ago, a large model railroad was installed on the property.
Visit: Open for visiting daily.
CASTLE FARMS CASTLE FARMS