American Castles: Castles in New York


Many make the mistake of believing that castles only exist in Europe, but there are many castles located in the United States as well.

Whether appearing like a classic medieval structure or more like a “McMansion,” all castles listed below are in some way cultural landmarks.

Here is a list of seven castles that can be found in the state of New York, whether the castle is currently in ruins or is still in existence for visitors to check out.

Bannerman’s Castle

Built in 1901-18, Bannerman’s Castle is located on Pollepel Island in Fishkill, New York. Pollepel Island can be found 50 miles north of New York City, in the Hudson River. Also known as Bannerman’s Island Arsenal, Bannerman’s Castle was once a military surplus warehouse. It was built in a Romanesque style by Francis Bannerman VI. Part of the National Register of Historic Places, Bannerman’s Castle today is the property of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Due to a former explosion, the wall exterior still stands but all floors and walls internally have burned down. Through the Bannerman’s Castle Trust, hard-hat tours on the island were made available, while Amtrak and Metro-North Railroad (Hudson Line) riders can see the castle visibly. However, it remains that the island has been subject to vandalism and atrophy. In 2009, more deterioration of the castle occurred when a good percent of the east wall and the front wall collapsed.

Beacon Towers

The Beacon Towers are located on the north shore of Long Island (the Gold Coast), in Sands Point, New York. They were built in 1917-1918 by Richard Howland Hunt for Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. In 1927 the house was sold to William Randolph Hearst, who later sold it in 1942 before it was destroyed in 1945. Now all that remains are various structures of the house (iron fences, stone turrets) and the gate house, the latter which is rumored to still be a private residence.

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The former Towers appeared in extraordinary Gothic style, while also resembling an Irish chateau. The interior contained about 140 rooms, along with a rampart, while the whole building was covered in flawless white stucco. Many believe the Beacon Towers were inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book “The Great Gatsby” (namely, inspiration for the home of character Jay Gatsby).

Belvedere Castle

The gothic-looking Belvedere Castle is located in Central Park in New York City. It was designed by Jacob Wrey Mould and Calvert Vaux, while being built in 1869. Originally it was created as “Victorian folly,” a structure that offers great scenic views but generally has no purpose. However, in 1919 the National Weather Service began using the castle tower to take measurements of wind speed and direction.

The stone structure still exists today and is open for visitors. It contains an observation deck and several exhibition rooms. From its two balconies visitors can see various other sites in Central Park, including the Ramble, the Turtle Pond, the Great Lawn and the Delacorte Theater.

Beardslee Castle

Beardslee Castle is located in Little Falls, New York (Mohawk Valley). Replicated as an Irish castle and built in 1860 by Augustus Beardslee, the castle appears in Gothic style with a frontispiece of rustic stone. In 1919 a fire started in the front of the castle, leaving behind only stone walls. The main floor was rebuilt while the rest lay in shambles. Another fire broke out in 1989, destroying the kitchen. In 1994 the castle was renovated and reopened, with all three floors being restored. Currently the castle is open to the public as a unique restaurant.

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Boldt Castle

Built in 1900-1904 by George C. Boldt, Boldt Castle is located in Alexandria Bay on Heart Island in New York. The castle contained six stories and 120 rooms, along with “tunnels, a powerhouse, Italian gardens, a drawbridge, alster tower (children’s playhouse) and a dove cote.” When Boldt’s wife died in 1904, Boldt abandoned the castle, and it became subject to vandalism and harsh weather. In 1977 however, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority took over the property, restoring the castle’s structures. Currently boat tours are available to the island from Canada and the US.

Castle Rock

Built in 1881, Castle Rock is located in Garrison, New York. It is the estate of former Illinois Central Railroad president William H. Osborn, and was built by J. Morgan Slade. It currently is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The stone castle’s main house was built with a conical-roofed tower, while verandas on the property allow for scenic views of the mountains and river. In addition, Castle Rock contains various dormers, along with a red slate roof and four interior chimneys. Eventually a library and extra rooms were added.

Positioned on a hill, it looks down onto the Hudson River, and can be seen from West Point and by traffic passing through Garrison. While the house property remains private, 129 acres (including the meadows) are open to the public for hiking.

Oheka Castle

Also listed on the National Register of Historic Places is Oheka Castle, a 109,000-square-foot mansion built for Otto Hermann Kahn between 1914 and 1919. Oheka is the second largest private home in the United States. It is located at 135 West Gate Drive in Huntington, New York (the Gold Coast of Long Island). It currently is open to the public for hotel and wedding reservations. This historic hotel features 32 guestrooms and suites, while also being used frequently as a backdrop for Hollywood productions. Tours of the estate are also available.

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