Sunday, September 23, 2018

Moravian Tile Works & Fonthill Castle

Posted by Stu On March - 13 - 2016

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Photos from 3/13

I drove by this a few times on the way to New Hope and was curious what exactly it was.  After being assigned a paper for a Museum Studies class and randomly choosing Fonthill Castle from a list of local museums, I got my answer.  Henry Chapman Mercer, who owned both Fonthill Castle and the adjacent Moravian Tile Works (as well as the Mercer Museum elsewhere in Doylestown) was a wealthy archaeologist, anthropologist, and lover of history.  Fonthill Castle was his home and now serves as a museum.  Unfortunately, it was closed the day we stopped by, but the Moravian Tile Works were open.  The Tile Works are a living history site, with workers making products as they were made nearly 200 years ago.  I was intrigued by the architecture of the place, which consists of a mix of several styles from previous civilizations.

I’m aware I’m not really providing all that much information or history here.  Again, I didn’t get to tour the castle, and I really don’t know much about Moravians.  I just thought the place looked cool and was interested in the living history aspect of it.  I encourage you to research Mr. Mercer on your own and perhaps visit the 3 places related to him.

The tile works are closest to the road and what originally caught my eye.

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Fonthill Castle is found behind the tile works.

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Popularity: 8% [?]

Thousand Islands & Boldt Castle

Posted by Stu On January - 15 - 2014

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Photos Taken October 2011

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From my experience, few people are aware that The Thousand Islands refers to an actual place and not just salad dressing.  The area in question is between Ontario and New York, along the St. Lawrence River and the uppermost section of Lake Ontario.  The name The Thousand Islands is also a little off; there are actually closer to two thousand of them.

Several companies offer boat tours of the islands.  Many tours allow you to visit one of two castles, either Boldt Castle on Heart Island or Singer Castle on Dark Island.  This time, we opted for Boldt Castle.  Someday we’ll return and check out the other one.

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If you are coming from the US side, you do not need a passport for these tours since the boats do not land in Canada.  The two islands with castles are also entirely within the United States.

The tour itself consists of a boat ride with a guide giving short histories and random facts about many of the islands, houses, and owners.  At the end, if you want (and why wouldn’t you), the boat drops you off on Heart Island, and for a small fee you are allowed to roam the island and its buildings.

One story I found fascinating involved some statues on the US side.  During Prohibition, according to our guide, whether or not the statues’ eyes were lit up let bootleggers on the Canadian side of the river know whether or not it was safe to bring over their booze.

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The following is a somewhat blurry photo of the smallest official island, known as Tom Thumb.  Our guide said to qualify as an “official” island, it must be bigger than a square foot, has to be above water year round, and must have at least one tree.

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So those are some of the sights to be seen during the boat tour.  It’s amazing how some of the houses have virtually no yard between them and the water.

After going up and down the river a bit, the boat then pulls into Heart Island.  A quick history – in 1900, multimillionaire George Boldt ordered the construction of Boldt Castle for his wife.  She died four years later.  Heartbroken, George halted all work on the island and never returned.  The castle and its surrounding buildings remained abandoned until 1977, when the Thousand Islands Bridge Commission  paid one dollar for Heart Island.

All money made on the island goes toward restoring and preserving the castle and grounds.

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You are allowed to roam most of the castle.  There are two other buildings on the island as well.  The powerhouse is at the back of the island and now serves as a museum.  Alster Tower, at the front of the island, was closed for repairs when we visited.

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Popularity: 9% [?]

Forest Castle

Posted by Stu On June - 21 - 2006

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A few years back, I received an email about a castle in Lakewood. I was told it was part of an apartment complex, and it was to be shortly torn down. Figuring it was done for, I never bothered to check it out.
While geocaching around the area, we stumbled upon it – what’s left anyway. The entire area is now fenced off with black tarp covering the fence line. One building is nothing but a foundation now. The castle itself is half boarded up. The remaining apartment building has also been abandoned for a few years and looks like it’s falling apart.
The only way we could get pictures was to shoot through the gate.
We got a lot of funny looks just by doing this, so we didn’t stay too long. We quickly took our photos and left.

Popularity: 10% [?]

Gillette Castle

Posted by Stu On October - 20 - 2004

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I honestly didn’t know much about this place before deciding to visit it. I found out it was the home of the guy who played Sherlock Holmes on stage, a fact I admit I didn’t really care about at the time. I just figured it was a cool-looking castle in Connecticut. It’s pretty impressive nevertheless…definitely not a normal house.

I didn’t get many pics of the inside of the castle since we got yelled at twice. First I was told flash was not allowed inside. That’s fine, but you’d figure they’d have a sign stating this. Secondly, once you go upstairs, they don’t let you back downstairs. Once again, a silly rule that isn’t mentioned or written anywhere. If I had known that, I wouldn’t have rushed to the top.

Overall, Gillette Castle is a cool place…quite different from the norm. The people running it, however, need to let visitors know before they go upstairs that they can’t go back down. Yeah, I’m still annoyed about that.

Popularity: 13% [?]

Lambert Castle

Posted by Stu On June - 20 - 2003

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One of my friends has been telling me about Garrett Mountain for years. He had heard ghost stories of a castle that was on the mountain, Lambert Castle. So we decided to go see for ourselves. The castle itself was kind of disappointing (it looks brand new and is a museum now), but the watch tower up the mountain a bit was more to our liking.


The doors leading inside were welded shut, so I could only get pics from outside the bars.


Many of the windows were only half-sealed.

Popularity: 9% [?]

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