Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gillette Castle

In my research about sweet things about Connecticut, I found this:

And immediately it landed on my "must check out" list. We learned that Gillette Castle was designed by an actor named William Gillette- a somewhat eccentric guy who was famous for adapting Sherlock Holmes to the Stage. He had no wife or kids, so in his will, rather than determining who it should go to he just precluded the possession of his castle by any "blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded." So naturally, the state took it over and it became a state park (he did preclude only the singular of "sap-head"). 

It was built in 1914 (and designed to look weathered and old) and has a number of funky unique features that make it totally awesome. For example:
See all those cool designs on the door? That's the latch. You lift the handle and it does all kinds of crazy moving to open the door... and each door was totally unique. This one also is custom-shaped for the couch that's next to it. 

The staircase. Surprisingly, the whole structure is built with steel, and then the wood and stone are just applied amazingly on top of that. I was really surprised at his decorating skills... you know, for an eccentric guy. The style was mostly stone and wood, and then (as you can see above the couch) there are designs in straw to add a softer texture, without straying from the "natural beauty" of it.  

Do you see the guy in blue standing in the upper left corner? From there, you can see hidden mirrors that allowed Gillette to see what visitors were doing in other parts of the house, like who was coming in the entryway below him so he could decide if it was worth making a grand entrance. 

A balcony with a view: the Connecticut River. The next picture was taken by looking up. 

Each light fixture was also totally unique and really cool. 

And that's what I call a proper picnic pavilion (had signs on it that said, "do not use as shelter in a thunderstorm"... and I thought to myself, that's good to know).

So while we were inside a thunderstorm rolled in. From the third-story windows we got to watch the rain pouring and lightning striking all around us like in a scary movie, which was pretty impressive. Rather than make a run for the car (or seek shelter in the forbidden pavilion) we decided to stick it out and wait the 20 minutes for it to pass. It didn't even take that long, and then suddenly the sun was out and the only difference was 3 inches of water in all low places. 

Wes thought the castle was pretty cool- he may have convinced us that we should live in one someday. I forgot to mention that we also brought along my brother and his family who live under an hour away- and had no idea how sweet this thing was (sometimes it takes being a tourist to get out and explore).