Amazing castles in America you need to visit

When you speak of castles, the first thing that comes to mind is those grand castles in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, and the rest of Europe. But you don’t have to travel all the way across the Atlantic to see one. In America, there is a variety of castles, in fact, there are some considered among the greatest in the world. Spanning the nation from east to west, these castles may not be as old as the magnificent structures throughout Europe, but many of their designs were inspired by them and you need to visit them before leaving the country.

Hammond Castle, Massachusetts

The castle, which was constructed between 1926 and 1929 is located on the Atlantic coast. It was the home and laboratory of John Hays Hammond, Jr. He was an inventor who was a pioneer in the study of remote control and held over four hundred patents. The building is composed of modern and 15th, 16th, and 18th century architectural elements and sits on a rocky cliff overlooking Gloucester Harbor.

At present, the castle operates as the Hammond Castle Museum, displaying Hammond’s collection of Roman, medieval, and Renaissance artifacts as well as exhibits about his life and inventions. The Great Hall contains a huge pipe organ which has been used for concerts and recordings by many famous organists including Richard Ellsasser and Virgil Fox. Unfortunately the organ is no longer functional. The castle’s lawn overlooking the harbor serves as a location outside of museum hours for weddings and various other private functions.

Lyndhurst Mansion, New York

Image courtesy of MFer Photography at Flickr.com

Designed in 1838 by Alexander Jackson Davis, the house has been owned by New York City mayor William Paulding, Jr., merchant George Merritt, and railroad tycoon Jay Gould. The house was first named “Knoll”, although critics quickly dubbed it “Paulding’s Folly” because of its unusual design that includes fanciful turrets and asymmetrical outline. Its limestone exterior was quarried at Sing in present day Ossining, New York. The second owner, Merritt, doubled the house’s size in 1864–1865 and renamed it “Lyndenhurst” for the estate’s linden trees. His new north wing added an imposing four-story tower, new porte-cochere and a new dining room, two bedrooms, and servants’ quarters. The old wing was reworked as a glass walled vestibule. Gould purchased the property in 1880 for use as a country house, shortened its name to “Lyndhurst” and occupied it until his death in 1892.

Unlike later mansions along the Hudson River, Lyndhurst’s rooms are few and of a more modest scale, and strongly Gothic in character. Hallways are narrow, windows small and sharply arched, and ceilings are fantastically peaked, vaulted, and ornamented. The effect is at once gloomy, somber, and highly romantic; the large, double-height art gallery provides a contrast of light and space.

Thornewood Castle, Washington

Thornewood Castle was built to the specifications of Mr. Chester Thorne, one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma, in beautiful Washington State as a gift for his bride, Anna. The building of Thornewood was truly a labor of love. In 1907, Mr. Thorne purchased a 400 year old Elizabethan manor in England and had it dismantled and shipped, brick by brick, from England to be included in the building of Thornewood. The famous architect, Kirtland Kelsey Cutter, was in charge of this most interesting Tudor Gothic project. Thornewood Castle is constructed with concrete and steel on a solid three-foot-thick foundation. Exterior walls are brick and concrete with steel reinforcement. The floors are ten inches of concrete. Construction took three years to complete, from 1908 to 1911, with many of the materials, including the brick, oak paneling, oak staircase and the medieval stained glass coming from the castle in England. The red brick facing on the outside of the estate was imported from Wales. Three ships were commissioned to transport these building supplies around Cape Horn to the Pacific Northwest.

Boldt Castle, New York

Image courtesy of painty at Flickr.com

George Boldt and his family enjoyed an earlier frame cottage on Hart Island (the island’s original name) for several summers, which they greatly expanded. In 1900, George Boldt launched an ambitious construction campaign to build a huge masonry structure, one of the largest private homes in the United States. He engaged an architectural firm and hundreds of workers for a six-story “castle” as a present to his wife. In addition, four other masonry structures on the island are architecturally notable.

The construction of Boldt Castle ceased abruptly in early 1904 after the death of Boldt’s wife. Boldt never returned to Heart Island, leaving this structure as a monument of his love. For 73 years, the castle and other stone structures were left exposed to the harsh winter weather and occasional vandals. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired Heart Island and the nearby yacht house in 1977, for one dollar, under the agreement that all revenues obtained from the castle operation would be applied towards restoration, so that the island would be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.

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