William Gillette's New England Crafted Castle/Fortress
When is a Castle not a castle? William Gillette’s Castle is actually a built replica of a Norman fortress. William was a famous actor who also played Sherlock Holmes. This “castle” design is actually the Norman fortress, Robert The Devil, part of a movie William Gillette starred in.
After purchasing 115 acres, first seen by William Gillette from the Connecticut River, he started construction on the castle in 1914. William also bought local field stone from area farmers who dug the stuff out of their fields. They probably thought Gillette crazy for wanting to pay for something they considered a nuisance. They probably would have paid him to take the field stone off of their hands. Little did they know the unique home ended up as a tourist attraction. So, William finished the castle in 1919 at the cost of $1 million, quite a sum for that day.
William Gillette's Castle is a One-of-a-Kind Design
William Gillette designed one room to mimic the sitting room at 221 B Baker Street, the Sherlock Holmes residence in London. And the bar actually locks. So, William gave his guests a chance on trying their luck on unlocking the bar. The park still furnishes the castle today as William Gillette furnished it from 1919 until his death in 1937.
Inside and out the castle shows the meticulous care William Gillette put into the layout and design. And the well-kept gardens and grounds are beautiful. Hand hewn Southern White Oak woodwork remains within the castle. There are 47 doors and not one of them is the same.
Go check out this castle that isn’t really a castle. It is at 67 River Road in East Haddam, Connecticut. It also lies atop a summit of hills known as the Seven Sisters. Go ahead and call it a castle… everyone, even the state park carries the name of Gillette Castle State Park and the castle/fortress has received an update remodel since I lasted visited there. For another interesting home to tour in Connecticut check out Mark Twain’s Home in Hartford, CT for another unique site to tour.