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Connecticut Castle may be torn down

Ian Harvey

It’s rare to find any historical castles in the United States, mostly due to the relatively young age of the country. Generally, they are found in countries overseas. This is why preserving this castle is even more important for the people in Danbury, Connecticut.

Just two months ago, the state decided to tear down Hearthstone Castle, one of the few stone castles that were built a century ago by the industrialists in the Northeast. Many of the other castles have either collapsed or have been torn down already.

Hearthstone Castle Source:Wikipedia/public domain
Hearthstone Castle Source: Wikipedia/public domain

Hearthstone Castle was built in 1899. Over the years, without anyone caring for it, it has fallen into the state of disrepair and been overgrown with plants and weeds. Ever since the city had acquired the castle in 1985, the community has only seen its state getting even worse, the roof and upper floors even collapsed all the way into the basement.

The City Council had decided to demolish the castle, taking down the 16-bedroom, three-story castle. However, the City Council had decided that if the plan goes through, they will leave the first three feet of the castle, as well as the foundation that surrounds the public garden. It is up to the city’s voters to decide whether or not the plan will go through.

Many of the community members have had lots to say about the issue. One woman, Dawn Eriquez, told reporters that she would not vote for approval. She had grown up next to the castle and had fond memories of her and a friend playing inside it. The young girls had roamed the empty hallways many times while growing up. However, they did not go to the third floor because they believed it was haunted.

She added that if it is torn down, she will grab as many of the original stones as possible so that they can be put or built elsewhere as a monument to where it once stood.

The first owner of the castle, E. Starr Stanford, had been a famous photographer who worked with actors and high members of the society. It is also believed that he had invented one of the earlier versions of the movie camera.

The castle was later bought by Charles Darling Parks. He had been a hat manufacturer, living with his relatives in the castle until the 1980s.

The castle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, being used as an example from America’s castle-building period.  Over 100 had been built around the same area during the late 19th century. However, many of them have already been demolished or destroyed by fires.

The mayor, Mayor Mark Boughton, said that many people have trespassed into the building, causing issues as well. Many of the people built fires inside, one having gotten out of hand. This showed the community that the castle is a major safety issue.

Hearthstone dining room before the furniture was removed, April 1985 Source:Wikipedia/public domain
Hearthstone dining room before the furniture was removed, April 1985 Source: Wikipedia/public domain

He said that the plan was to demolish the whole castle and build a garden where it once stood. It would cost about $1.7 million once it is all finished. He added that this is the only option for preserving the area and what is left. If they had chosen to rebuild it, it would have cost more than $10 million.

A member of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Brad Schide, said that this particular castle is well beyond repair. Although many community members believe it should stay standing, he said a garden that surrounds the outline of the castle would be wonderful.

He added that many European countries do this with their ruined castles. As long as there is some kind of piece of the original castle, many people tend to visit the beautiful gardens that surround it.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News