There's no need to fly all the way out to Europe for the chance to visit a real historic castle. If you've ever dreamed of seeing a stunning castle with a moat, drawbridge, and architectural styles straight out of a fairytale, you might not have to go very far. Some of the most historic structures you could dream of with English, Spanish, Italian, and Victorian influences are actually located in America.
While these American castles don't date back to the 13th century, they are full of interesting history.
1. Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle was built in the early 20th century by publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst and his architect Julia Morgan. Originally known as "La Cuesta Encantada" (The Enchanted Hill), or more commonly San Simeon, Hearst called his castle "The Ranch." The property is located on the Central Coast of California. In the '20s and '30s, Hearst used the castle to have many high-profile parties attended by all of the big stars of the time. Following his death, the Hearst family gave the property to the state of California.
2. Boldt Castle
Boldt Castle is located in the Thousand Islands region of New York on Heart Island. The structure was an expanded summer home of George Boldt, who was the general manager of New York City's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Unfortunately, construction was never completed following the death of Boldt's wife, and it remained vacant and untouched for 73 years. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority has spent millions of dollars upgrading and restoring the property which can be visited by ferry, private boat, or tour boat.
3. Fonthill Castle
Back in the 1800s, Fonthill Castle served as the primary residence of Fonthill Castle was built in 1852 as the country estate of Shakespearean actor Edwin Forrest and his wife. The gothic revival style castle is located in the Bronx in New York and was named after William Beckford's Gothic Fonthill Abbey in England. Designed by Henry Chapman Mercer, the castle is now owned by the Bucks County Historical Society which also owns a museum dedicated to Mercer.
4. Belvedere Castle
Belvedere Castle is located in the heart of Central Park in New York City. Since 1919, the castle has housed the official Central Park weather station. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux back in the 1800s. During a 1983 restoration, a weather vane and an anemometer were added to the stone castle. Since its location is already one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city this is easily one of the most viewed castles in the country.
5. The Biltmore Estate
This French Renaissance Revival-style mansion in Asheville, North Carolina, is truly stunning. Originally the home of George Washington Vanderbilt II, the house has become the largest private residence in the United States as it is still operated by Vanderbilt's descendants. The estate was opened in 1895 and was filled with European furnishings that were collected by Vanderbilt during construction. Now the house has been converted into a museum and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Asheville.
6. Gillette Castle
Originally the home of American actor William Gillette, Gillette Castle can be found between East Haddam and Lyme, Connecticut along the Connecticut River. Gillette was best known in the early 1900s for playing Sherlock Holmes on the stage. He also had a 3-mile long railroad surrounding the estate which entertained famous visitors including Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein. the 14,000 square foot home took millions to create but was turned into a state park by the state of Connecticut following Gillette's death in 1937.
7. Hammond Castle
Located in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Hammond Castle was once the home and laboratory of John Hays Hammond, Jr. Hammond was the inventor who led to the remote control in addition to hundreds of other patents. The inventor had a personal collection of Roman, medieval, and Renaissance artifacts which are now displayed in the castle's museum in addition to more information about his life and inventions. For over 25 years, the castle has also hosted a haunted house tour which sounds like a can't miss attraction in October.
8. Lyndhurst Castle
This gothic mansion is also known as the Jay Gould estate. Located in Tarrytown, New York, Lyndhurst Castle was named a National Historic Landmark in 1966. The home was first owned by New York City mayor William Paulding and eventually came into the hands of railroad tycoon Jay Gould who used it as his summer home. Gould's daughter donated the home to the National Trust for Historic Preservation following his death, and now it's open for the public to visit and marvel at the incredible Tudor architecture.
9. Bannerman Castle
Located on Pollepel Island which is situated on the Hudson River in New York, Bannerman Castle was built in the early 1900s by Irish immigrant Francis Bannerman VI. Part of the island was used as a storage facility for the military surplus business run by Bannerman. The ruins of the castle are now owned and maintained by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. Bannerman's Castle Trust has started giving tours and is dedicated to the preservation of the historic building.
10. Chateau LaRoche
Also known as the Loveland Castle, Chateau LaRoche is a museum located in Loveland, Ohio. The castle was built by Harry D. Andrews who was a WWI veteran, boy scout troop leader, and medievalist. He was passionate about this project and worked on it for 50 years until his death in 1981. He passed it on to his troop, the Knights of the Golden Trail (KOGT) who continued to upgrade the project over the years. Volunteer knights guard the castle and have even reported that they believe it is haunted. Maybe that's because some of the stones used in construction were brought back by Andrews from travels abroad.
This article was originally published in May of 2019.