Gillette Castle State Park: A Photo Essay
A Unique State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut
Gillette Castle State Park is nestled in the rolling hills of East Haddam, Connecticut. Originally designed and overseen by owner, actor William Gillette, it took five years to build between 1914 and 1919. William Gillette was a stage actor most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, and once his mansion was built, he took great joy in entertaining fellow actors and friends at this medieval-like estate. The estate comprised 184 acres and was called, "The Seventh Sister" after the name of the hills it was built on. At one point there was an active three-mile long gauge railroad that took guests on a tour of the property. Remnants of the train tracks can be seen at the park today along with a tunnel that guests can walk through. The inside of the castle consists of 24 rooms, with beautiful hand-hewn woodworking out of Southern White Oak. There are many quirky shelves and alcoves in the castle that are fun to explore and discover for adults and children alike. The castle is also full of clippings and letters from William Gillette's life. It's a wonderful experience for the history buff, architect, nature lover and layperson alike.
Today, Gillette's Castle is one of the most beautiful Connecticut State parks in the New England area. Located high on a hill above the Connecticut River, the views are spectacular. The grounds are free to tour year round, but the castle is open for tours from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day for a small fee. There are bathroom facilities available. A small museum is now set up in the building that houses the restrooms. Gillette's Castle State Park has facilities for camping, picnicking, hiking and stream fishing. There is a fee for camping, but the rest of the outside activities are free. The terrace of Gillette's Castle is available for wedding ceremonies from June through September on Saturdays only at a price by the 1/2 hour.
© 2012 Karen Hellier