Castles in the United States? Yes! Castles on the East Coast of the United States? Yes again!
The East Coast of the United States is a treasure trove of historical sites, and few things embody the region’s rich history more than the castles that dot the landscape. From Maine to Florida, these fortresses tell the story of America’s past, and offer a glimpse into the lives of the people who once called them home.
What is a castle?
It seems like an obvious question. It’s a towering fortress, typically from medieval times but also found in fairy tales. Some can be as elaborate as Peles Castle, which is technically a king’s palace, or as simple as a strategically positioned military fortress, like Bran Castle, the supposed inspiration for Dracula’s castle.
Can you tell I visited castles when I traveled to Romania?
In fact, castles are essentially fortified buildings typically used during medieval times. Since the United States wasn’t established until much later, you could argue that these east coast castles are simply fashioned in the style of castles. However you look at it, it’s fun to check out castle like buildings right here on the east coast.
Top Castles to Visit on the East Coast
Boldt Castle, New York
Located on Heart Island in the Thousand Islands region of New York, Boldt Castle is an example of architecture from the Gilded Age, which started just after the end of the Civil War. Built in the early 1900s by millionaire George C. Boldt, of Waldorf-Astoria fame, as a tribute to his wife, the castle features grand ballrooms, ornate gardens, and a stunning view of the St. Lawrence River. Today, visitors can tour the castle and its grounds, which include a power house and a children’s playhouse.
Address: Alexandria Bay, New York (reachable only by boat)
Bannerman Castle, New York
Bannerman Castle is a unique and historic landmark located on Pollepel Island in the middle of the Hudson River. The castle was originally built in the early 20th century by Francis Bannerman VI, a wealthy businessman who made his fortune in the military surplus industry. The castle was designed to store and showcase his vast collection of military surplus, including weaponry, ammunition, and uniforms. Today, the castle is in ruins but visitors can take a tour of the island and explore the castle’s exterior, which includes a grand entrance, a clock tower, and a number of unique architectural features.
Address: 2 Red Flynn Dr, Beacon, NY 12508 (dock location)
Fonthill Castle, Pennsylvania
Fonthill Castle is a historic mansion located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. It was built in the early 20th century by the wealthy American archeologist and tile maker Henry Chapman Mercer. The castle is known for its unique architecture and features a mix of Gothic, Byzantine, and medieval styles. Fonthill Castle has a rich history and has served as Mercer’s residence, as well as a museum and cultural center. Visitors can explore the castle’s many rooms, including the grand hall, library, and Mercer’s private quarters, and view its extensive collection of art, ceramics, and furnishings.
Address: 525 East Court Street, Doylestown, PA 18901
Hammond Castle, Massachusetts
Perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Hammond Castle is a medieval-style fortress that was built in the 1920s by inventor John Hays Hammond Jr. Today, the castle is open to the public and offers a glimpse into Hammond’s eccentric life, as well as a collection of medieval artifacts and artwork.
Address: 80 Hesperus Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930
Belcourt Castle, Rhode Island
Belcourt Castle is a historic mansion located in Newport, Rhode Island. It was built in 1894 by wealthy businessman Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont and features an impressive combination of Gothic, Renaissance, and French styles of architecture. The castle has a rich history and has served as a residence for several notable families over the years. Today, it is open to the public for tours where visitors can explore the castle’s many rooms, including the grand ballroom, library, and chapel, and view its extensive collection of artwork, antiques, and furnishings.
Address: 657 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 0284
Montpelier Mansion, Maryland
Originally built as a simple farmhouse in the 1700s, Montpelier Mansion was transformed into a grand neoclassical estate in the early 1800s by its owner, Samuel Owings. Today, visitors can tour the mansion and its grounds, which include a formal garden and a working farm.
Address: 9650 Muirkirk Road, Laurel, MD 20708
Castillo de San Marcos, Florida
Built by the Spanish in the late 1600s, the Castillo de San Marcos is a massive stone fortress that once protected the city of St. Augustine from attack. Today, the castle is a National Monument and offers visitors the chance to explore its history and architecture, as well as take in stunning views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean.
Address: 11 S Castillo Dr, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Fort Knox, Maine
Named after the famous fort in Kentucky, Fort Knox in Maine is a 19th-century military fortress that was built to protect the Penobscot River. Today, visitors can explore the fort’s underground tunnels and bunkers, as well as take in views of the river and the surrounding countryside.
Address: 740 Fort Knox Road, Prospect, Maine 04981
Biltmore Estate, North Carolina
Biltmore Estate is a historic mansion located in Asheville, North Carolina. It was built in the late 19th century by George Washington Vanderbilt II, a wealthy businessman and art collector. The estate features a magnificent French Renaissance-style chateau with 250 rooms and is set on over 8,000 acres of landscaped gardens and woodlands. Visitors can explore the mansion’s many rooms, including the grand staircase, banquet hall, and library, and view its extensive collection of art, furniture, and decorative objects. The estate also features a winery, a farm, and a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and horseback riding.
Address: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803
Lyndhurst Mansion, New York
Lyndhurst Mansion is a historic Gothic Revival-style mansion located in Tarrytown, New York. It was built in the mid-19th century and served as a residence for several prominent families, including railroad magnate Jay Gould. The mansion is renowned for its stunning architecture and beautifully landscaped grounds, which feature sweeping lawns, gardens, and towering trees. Today, Lyndhurst Mansion is open to the public for tours where visitors can explore the mansion’s many rooms, including the grand entrance hall, library, and dining room, and view its extensive collection of art, antiques, and furnishings. The estate also offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking and picnicking.
Address: 635 S Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591
The East Coast of the United States is home to some of the most impressive castles or “castles” in the country, each with its own unique history and architectural style. While the United States doesn’t offer true medieval fortresses, there’s a castle on the East Coast that’s sure to capture your imagination. Plan a trip to one (or all!) of these incredible sites and explore the history and beauty of each region for yourself.