Unusual Destinations: Gillette Castle in Connecticut

Sep 26, 2019 View Comments by

Gillette Castle in Connecticut

William Gillette was an American actor who gained notoriety in the early 20th century for his on-stage portrayals of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Gillette designed his fairy-tale-style house and oversaw every phase of its construction, which took place between 1914 and 1919. The 24-room, 14,000-square-foot home was constructed of wood, cement, and fieldstone. The home’s interior reflects a craftsman-style, but with numerous oddities designed by Gillette himself. These include hidden passages, a secret room, 47 uniquely styled doors with Steampunk-like latches, and an elaborate 3-mile-long narrow gauge railroad on the grounds outside.

The home is perched on a cliff with a sweeping view of the Connecticut River some 100 feet below. The list of visitors who reportedly have visited the estate include Albert Einstein, Helen Hayes, and Charlie Chaplin. After Gillette’s death, the property was acquired by the State of Connecticut in 1943, renamed Gillette Castle, and turned into a state park, which receives around 350,000 visitors each year.

Gillette Castle State Park at 67 River Road, East Haddam, CT, (860) 526-2336.

 

 

 

 

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