Friday, June 20, 2008

A Castle in Connecticut!

Article and Photo by Eric H.
The Gillette Castle in East Haddam, CT, looks so authentic in its larger-than-life stone, medieval fortress construction that you'd expect Cinderella to be walking out of this grand structure -- perhaps, in this day of age, en route to the local Payless Shoe Store.

Gillette Castle, located in scenic Gillette State Park, is the former home of famous actor, director and playwright William Hooker Gillette (1853-1936). The home -- or, should we say, castle -- has been wonderfully cared for, as evidenced by the informative and entertaining tour that left us realizing that those 2,500 sq. ft. "McMansions" in our hometown aren't as big a deal as we thought. With sweeping views of the Connecticut River way down below, this castle-on-a-hill features 24 rooms, 47 unique doors, white oak woodwork and carvings, stone stairways, built-in couches, a movable table on tracks, and an inside porch fountain. Outside, you'll find walking paths with near-vertical steps, and trestles as high as 40 ft. There's also a goldfish pond and a vegetable cellar on the premises.

This was Gillette's semi-retirement home, bought in the early 1900s for $1M. And to think, that could buy you a modest-sized ranch home in Weston, MA, today!

In addition to taking a tour of the castle, Gillette State Park offers camping, food concessions and a visitor center. It's really a beautiful area, not only for the incredible castle but for its wooded lands and fine views of the Connecticut River. Nearby are ferry rides across parts of the Connecticut River, and the beautiful town of Essex, CT -- often cited as one of America's greatest small-towns with its perfectly-manicured, tree-lined streets, big homes, interesting shops and ideal presence on the Connecticut River.

Gillette Castle State Park, 67 River Road, East Haddam, CT 06423. Tel. (860) 526-2336

Read more about Connecticut Travel

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