Gillette Castle is a quirky mansion of sorts that serves as the focal point for an eponymous state park in Connecticut. The structure that can be found at this park doesn't exactly mimic the designs of the castles that you can find in Europe, though its builder, William Gillette, claimed that medieval fortresses were his inspiration. The exterior, which has the look of a wet and jagged sand castle, isn't the only oddity when it comes to this curious attraction. A series of hidden mirrors allowed the owner to maintain surveillance of the structure's public rooms, and you might notice the unique doorknobs and locks that can be found throughout. Gillette even went so far as to design a table that could slide into the wall in an attempt to maximize space.
The physical address for Gillette Castle is 67 River Road in the town of East Haddam. East Haddam is essentially equidistant from the relatively large Connecticut cities of New London, New Haven, and Hartford, making it a good day trip destination for those who find themselves in either locale.
Gillette Castle in Connecticut is an attraction that is surely worthy of a visit, especially if you have an interest in architecture, interesting characters from American history, and spending time in the great outdoors. The 24-room mansion that is the Gillette Castle certainly doesn't look like most homes across the country, and as far as its builder is concerned, a more interesting character there could hardly be.
Gillette was born in Hartford in 1853, and made a name and a fortune for himself in the entertainment business. Both an actor and a playwright, he was best known for his stage portrayals of the fictional sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. With his money from the entertainment business, Gillette retired to the Connecticut River valley area, building his strange castle high on the hills. No less than twenty men worked on the project, and the construction process began in 1914. By 1919, the main structure was finished, and over the following years, Gillette employed numerous craftsmen to add things here and there.
The Gillette Castle history is an interesting one to say the least, and it has most everything to do with its founder. Some have labeled William Gillette a creative genius, and it's up to the visitor to decide whether this is something that they agree with. Among other things, Gillette saw to it that each of the 47 doors in his castle were unique, and he also had light switches made of carved wood installed. In some ways, Gillette Castle is reminiscent of something that you might expect the famous architect from Spain, Antonio Gaudi, to produce. It definitely doesn't adhere to most architectural tendencies, and that is a big part of its overall allure.
Gillette Castle and the state park that surrounds it enjoy a wonderful hilltop location in the Connecticut River Valley. From the castle grounds, you can see the river below, and the views of the valley are utterly divine. Within the Gillette Castle State Park are nature trails that you can take to, and should you be planning on making a day of it, picnic areas are also available. You don't have to pay anything to use the park or its parking lot, and while fees apply for admission to Gillette Castle, they are anything but exorbitant.