Frozen in Time
Located at at an undisclosed place in United States of America
Photo © 2007 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Ravenwood Castle* History
The story of this peculiar castle-like residence leads back to 1885, when a small log cabin with a large fireplace was built as a fishing retreat. After the property changed hands a few times near the turn of the century, it was purchased by a wealthy and reclusive business man who was the heir to several fortunes from the canal-building industry. He also desired to be a Scottish Laird, and so, he wished to have a castle for himself, his wife, and their young daughter.
Construction began just before World War I. Instead of razing the old lodge and starting anew, the castle was built almost completely around the existing structure. Rounded stone was taken from the nearby riverbed to erect the exterior walls, some reputed to be three feet thick; slate roof tiles were imported from England, and the limestone mantels and flooring were shipped from Italy. The owner was very meticulous and thorough, however he was also quite spontaneous with the building plans, often changing them after a section was completed, requiring the workers to tear it down and rebuild. About thirty Finnish masons were employed, with the owner's wife and daughter residing in a small section of the old lodge as construction continued throughout the years.
The owner died in 1921, before his castle was completed, and misfortune followed his family like a specter. His wife was committed to a sanitarium after his death, and the castle was never actually lived in. The family's furniture, rugs, fixtures and paintings were all shipped to the castle but never unpacked. The daughter married and moved to Europe, but was committed to an English institution after reportedly hunting for King James' gold. Her husband returned to America but was also committed to an asylum shortly thereafter, and the family castle in the woods languished. Thirty six rooms sat empty and collecting dust as the years passed by.
In 1949, a masonic order purchased the property for about $47,000 and used the mansion as the chapter's summer retreat, but at some point maintenance of the property had been discontinued. Although it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 and is on private property, little has been done to protect the structure from vandalism and the elements.
* Note: the name "Ravenwood Castle" is a pseudonym; the real name of this location is currently undisclosed.