When a Castle isn't a Castle... William Gillette's Fortress at Gillette Castle State Park
When is a castle not a castle? When William Gillette, a famous actor who also played Sherlock Holmes on the stage from 1899-1932, built it. Based on the Norman fortress ‘Robert The Devil’, the ‘castle design’ came from a movie William Gillette starred in that featured the fortress as part of the setting. William originally named his castle fortress the Seventh Sister. It’s now known as the Gillette Castle and is Gillette Castle State Park in Connecticut.
After first purchasing 115 acres originally seen by William Gillette from the Connecticut River, he next started construction on the castle in 1914, in East Haddam. Additionally, William bought local Connecticut field stone from area farmers who dug the stuff out of their fields. They certainly must have thought Gillette crazy, paying for something they considered a nuisance. The farmers likely would have paid William for taking the field stone off of their hands.
Gillette Castle Constructed With Local Field Stone and the Sitting Room From 221 B Baker Street in London
Little did the local farmers know the unique home William built and designed later would become a renowned tourist attraction. Completing the castle in 1919, at the cost of $1 million, this was quite a sum for that day. Housing 24 rooms, the castle also contained puzzle locks, secret doors and hidden mirrors.
One room designed, similarly looked like the sitting room at 221B Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes’ residence in London. And the bar locks. William got a kick to see if guests figured out how to unlock the bar. It’s still furnished today as it was from when William built the castle in 1919, until his death in 1937. Additionally, inside and out the castle shows the meticulous care William Gillette put into the layout and design. First of all, the gardens and grounds are well-kept. Furthermore, the woodwork within the castle is hand-hewn Southern White Oak. Moreover, there are 47 doors and not one of them is the same.
Gillette Castle State Park Designed by the Late Actor William Gillette… Check it Out
Check out this castle that really isn’t a castle. It’s located at 67 River Road in East Haddam, Connecticut. It also lies atop a summit of a chain 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. For a bit of trivia, William Gillette not only designed the castle fortress, but he also designed most of its contents. It took 20 men four years to build Gillette Castle.