Gillette Castle State Park
It might have the shape and size of a medieval castle, but the exterior fieldstone used to build this truly unique hilltop structure gives it a texture unlike any you’ve seen before. It was the creation of William Gillette, who was born in Hartford in 1853 and studied at (but never graduated from) several universities, among them Yale, Harvard, and MIT. To the chagrin of his prestigious family, Gillette had more success as an actor, becoming particularly well known for his stage portrayals of Sherlock Holmes.
By 1914, when work on his 24-room home began, Gillette was semi-retired, with the time and, apparently, the eccentricity and genius to oversee construction to his own specifications. It took local trade- and craftsmen five years to finish the main structure alone. Among its interior features are built-in furnishings (including a table that rolls on a track) and elaborate white oak woodwork, including some 47 uniquely carved doors.
The landscaping of the surrounding 84 acres is no less impressive. A tour of both the grounds and the castle is a highlight of a visit to this wooded state park. Note that you can combine a ride on the Essex Steam Train, which departs from Essex just 12 miles to the south, with a hike to the castle.
67 River Rd.
- East Haddam, Connecticut 06423
- 41.42717000, -72.42867000
- Castle: Memorial Day--Labor Day, Thurs.--Sun. 11--5. Grounds: daily 8 am--sunset.
- Visit Website
- (860) 526-2336