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Gillette Castle State Park: A Photo Essay

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.

Gilette's castle

Gilette's castle

A Unique State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut

Gillette Castle State Park is nestled in the rolling hills of East Haddam, Connecticut. Originally designed and overseen by owner, actor William Gillette, it took five years to build between 1914 and 1919. William Gillette was a stage actor most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, and once his mansion was built, he took great joy in entertaining fellow actors and friends at this medieval-like estate. The estate comprised 184 acres and was called, "The Seventh Sister" after the name of the hills it was built on. At one point there was an active three-mile long gauge railroad that took guests on a tour of the property. Remnants of the train tracks can be seen at the park today along with a tunnel that guests can walk through. The inside of the castle consists of 24 rooms, with beautiful hand-hewn woodworking out of Southern White Oak. There are many quirky shelves and alcoves in the castle that are fun to explore and discover for adults and children alike. The castle is also full of clippings and letters from William Gillette's life. It's a wonderful experience for the history buff, architect, nature lover and layperson alike.

Today, Gillette's Castle is one of the most beautiful Connecticut State parks in the New England area. Located high on a hill above the Connecticut River, the views are spectacular. The grounds are free to tour year round, but the castle is open for tours from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day for a small fee. There are bathroom facilities available. A small museum is now set up in the building that houses the restrooms. Gillette's Castle State Park has facilities for camping, picnicking, hiking and stream fishing. There is a fee for camping, but the rest of the outside activities are free. The terrace of Gillette's Castle is available for wedding ceremonies from June through September on Saturdays only at a price by the 1/2 hour.

If you happen to be in the East Haddam area of Connecticut at Christmas time, they do a wonderful job of decorating the castle for Christmas. Posing for family photos near the large Christmas tree or by the poinsettia plants in the conservatory makes for wonderful photo Christmas cards. It's definitely worth a stop as a family or for photographers.

One of the picnic areas with a view of a goldfish pond.

One of the picnic areas with a view of a goldfish pond.

A friend in the pond!

A friend in the pond!

Pond behind the picnic area with a picturesque stone bridge.

Pond behind the picnic area with a picturesque stone bridge.

An old railroad bridge converted into a walking bridge to hike across.

An old railroad bridge converted into a walking bridge to hike across.

A hiking trail on the grounds.

A hiking trail on the grounds.

The old gauge railroad tunnel.

The old gauge railroad tunnel.

An up close view of the castle from the terrace.

An up close view of the castle from the terrace.

A view of the ferry crossing the Connecticut River, seen from the castle terrace.

A view of the ferry crossing the Connecticut River, seen from the castle terrace.

A view of the Connecticut River from the castle terrace.

A view of the Connecticut River from the castle terrace.

One of the many stone archways on the castle grounds.

One of the many stone archways on the castle grounds.

Gillette Castle Poll

© 2012 Karen Hellier

Comments

Joan Veronica Robertson from Concepcion, Chile on September 28, 2012:

Beautiful Hub and photos! Made me want to visit, although I know it's not possible. But I can still visit vicariously! Voted UABI. Will share and pin, have a good day!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on July 09, 2012:

Oh that would be great if you posted your painting. Thanks for the photography vote of confidence!

carol stanley from Arizona on July 09, 2012:

Karen: If I get ambitious and paint I will post a copy. It will be a loose interpretation as all my work is. Thanks again for the beautiful photos. Regardless of the camera you still made it work.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on July 08, 2012:

Thanks for the compliment carol7777. All thanks to my new camera and the beauty of Gillette's Castle! It's so strange how there are places of beauty all around us but sometimes we forget to notice. Until I had my camera, I didn't notice all the beautiful places in Connecticut.

carol stanley from Arizona on July 08, 2012:

Your photos are so beautiful I may try to paint one. And I enjoying the travel fantasy...

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on July 04, 2012:

teaches12345,

I have probably been here 10 times in my life, but never with a good camera. My new camera has helped me to see the park in a very different and more beautiful way, and to appreciate it's amazing scenery. Thanks for reading, looking and commenting.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on July 04, 2012:

Mhatter99,

You are most welcome. I have a new camera and I am having so much fun experimenting with it and taking pictures of beautiful places. I am enjoying sharing those pictures with those other in Hub Land!!! Thanks for looking.

Dianna Mendez on July 03, 2012:

I loved the photo tour of this park and would enjoy actually getting to visit in person. There are few parks that have such interesting castles to discover. You must have really enjoyed your trip.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on July 03, 2012:

Thank you for this picturesque tour/report

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on July 03, 2012:

b.Malin,

What part of CT. did you live in? It's so beautiful here at the castle. I didn't appreciate it as a kid, but as an adult I'm going back to places like the castle, and Devil's Hopyard, and really appreciating these places now. Wisdom comes with age I guess!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on July 03, 2012:

Yes I do CJH...Nikon Coolpix S3300...and thanks!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on July 03, 2012:

Ah, billybuc, you flatter me. :0) This was the first day with my new camera that Chuck gave me for my birthday...early, as my birthday is not for a few months. It's a Nikon Coolpix S3300 and very easy to use. We had planned to go on this picnic and he gave me the camera to use to take pictures for hubs. What a guy, huh???

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on July 03, 2012:

donnah75,

Yes, it's a beautiful place. If you can make it down, you should stop in the town of Haddam, about 5 minutes from Gillette Castle. It's a quaint little town with shops, and there's a bridge that spans the river. It's a nice day trip to do the castle and the town.

b. Malin on July 03, 2012:

Wow the Memories Karen. We visited Gillette Castle when my boys were young, and I too lived in Conn. I really Enjoyed looking at your Wonderful Pictures, so Crisp and Clear.

I now look forward to Following your Hubs. A warm Welcome to Hub Pages, we are like a "Family" of Writers here!

CJH on July 03, 2012:

Great pictures! You muast have good camera!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 03, 2012:

Very beautiful place and the pictures are awesome. Great hub my friend! You should work for the state tourism agency!

Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on July 03, 2012:

You are inspiring me to visit some local historic sites. This place looks interesting. I have never heard of it before. If I can make it down to Connecticut, I may visit. Thanks for another great photo essay.

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