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The two RV Gypsies explored Gillette's Castle
67 River Road East Haddam CT
September 22, 2014
USA map showing location of ConnecticutCT map showing location of castle
Connecticut State Park sign

Gillette Castle State Park sign and the Visitor Center

Gillette Castle State Park sign
Visitor Center

Atop the most southerly hill in a chain known as The Seven Sisters, William Hooker Gillette, noted actor, director, and playwright, built this 184-acre estate, The Seventh Sister. The focal point of his effort was a 24 room mansion reminiscent of a medieval castle. The grounds used to have a railroad track with a working steam engine and electric engine that visitors could ride on, also designed by Gillette. Some of the track was purchased by Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut and was used to transport guests around the lake. The remaining track was pulled up and converted into walking trails. The engines were donated back to the park in 1992, where they are on display. See photos below.

train engine
train engine
bust of William Gillettte
poster of William Gillette in Sherlock Holmes

Underground Vegetable Cellar

A nice stone arch
leading to a path into the woods.

Vegetable Cellar
stone arch

The railroad station (Grand Central)

First view of Gillette's Castle

railroad station (Grand Central)
First view of Gillette's Castle

Gillette Castle State Park is straddling the towns of East Haddam and Lyme, Connecticut. Sitting high above the Connecticut River, the castle was originally a private residence commissioned and designed by William Gillette, an American actor who is most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on stage. The park reopened in 2002 after four years of restoration, costing 11 million dollars. It now includes a museum, hiking trails, a picnic area, and holds many theatrical celebrations.

history book After Gillette died, with no wife or children, his will precluded the possession of his castle not be by any "blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what it surrounds". Connecticut's government took over the property in 1943, renaming the home as Gillette's Castle and the estate as Gillette Castle State Park. The estate was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

There are a number of oddities in the castle personally designed by Gillette, such as unusual doorknobs and locks, and a system of hidden mirrors for surveillance of the public rooms from the master bedroom. Gillette designed the castle and most of its contents personally, periodically checking every phase of their construction. Built of local fieldstone supported by a steel framework, it took 20 men five years (1914-1919), to complete the main structure. Gillette began his semi-retirement in his new home; and in the following years, he supervised the many thousands of refinements created by local craftsmen.

Gillette's Castle
Lee Duquette and Gillette's Castle
Karen Duquette and Gillette's Castle
Karen Duquette and Gillette's Castle

The side and back of Gillette's Castle

Gillette's Castle
Gillette's Castle
Karen Duquette and Gillette's Castle

View of the Connecticut River from behind Gillette's Castle

View of the Connecticut River from behind Gillette Castle
View of the Connecticut River from behind Gillette Castle
View of the Connecticut River from behind Gillette Castle
View of the Connecticut River from behind Gillette Castle
Karen Duquette and floweres behind Gillette's Castle
floweres behind Gillette's Castle
Lee Duquette and floweres behind Gillette's Castle
floweres behind Gillette's Castle
a flowere behind Gillette's Castle
a flowere behind Gillette's Castle
floweres behind Gillette's Castle
floweres behind Gillette's Castle

Below: Car in the parking lot at Gillette's Castle

Car in the parking lot at Gillette's Castle

The interior of Gillette's Castle has been placed on a separate page, so that photos will load faster, and make visitor's viewing more pleasant. So please continue on.