The idea of a castle in America seems strange considering the word castle might automatically bring to mind the cold, dark castles of England and Ireland. But castles in America have been creatively reinvented. With a list that spans the East Coast to the West, the Travel Channel has re-discovered the beauty of castles, from the old, the new and the most magnificent.
Sir Ivan's Castle -- Southampton, New York
The 13,000-square-foot Southampton castle is home to owners Alan Wilzig, a banking executive, and Sir Ivan, Artemis Records recording artist. What makes a castle a home? A gold-tinged suite with a mahogany four-poster bed and an armored standing guard, of course! And that's not all. Sir Ivan's Castle also features a fireplace that you can turn on with the click of a switch, and a TV that comes up or down, also with the click of a switch.
The dining room, which seats 20 on red-velvet chairs with sculpted phoenixes, alone states that this castle was built for more than two. And that's exactly what the retired brothers had in mind. Sir Ivan's Castle is the talk of the town when summer rolls around. Guests spend the day basking in the sunshine, splashing around in the pool with its silver mermaid sculpture, or serving it up on the tennis court. Let's not forget the professional billiard table, private gym and spa with state-of-the-art equipment with a medieval flair.
Nighttime is no exception. There is a dance floor that accommodates hundreds and a plush blue-and-gold screening section with exotic furnishings and star-shaped settees. When night falls, the dance floor isn't the only thing that comes alive. As the local disc jockey at this event, Sir Ivan has created his own sound, which he proudly calls 'technippie.' He started creating his own music five years ago, and since then has had three Billboard hits, performing as the caped superhero 'Peaceman.'
The Lion and The Rose Castle -- Woodland Park, Colorado
Built by Dr. Eric Glanzer and his wife, The Lion and The Rose Castle is the result of five years of construction. Named for its feline inhabitants (The Glanzers have an intense passion for animals, and whenever there is an opportunity to save a cat, they will step in and provide a new home for it) as well as its romantic flair, the beautiful castle is set amongst the beautiful setting of Pikes Peak National Park and is currently on the market for a whopping $5 million!
The Glanzers' castle was inspired by the couple's many trips to Europe over the years, which included several castle visits. The Glanzers wanted their new home to have a warm feel, rather than the dark and cold atmosphere of many medieval castles, so their designs mimicked 19th-century styles. Aside from visiting castles, the Glanzers collected many museum-quality antiques on their travels, including a 19th-century Spanish armor, a French bronze-and-mahogany grandfather clock, and a Swarovski crystal chandelier. If the Glanzers couldn't find it on their travels or bring it back with them, they imported it. Fine antiques from Europe and Asia add a quality to their castle that would be difficult to emulate.
A pair of French doors leads into the living rooms and one accented with a beautiful rosewood concert piano. Across from the Grand Hall, the dining room is set for an elegant meal on top of a beautiful Chippendale mahogany table with fine tableware. As you make your way from the dining room to the kitchen, traces of Old World detailing are seen in the beautiful moldings above the central island. The breakfast nook lends itself to the morning sun, which pours through but not without revealing the views of the Rampart Range and 2 million acres of trees.
The Grand Staircase, with its bronze Tiffany sculpture and intricate floral railing, leads to the living quarters. The master suite - in particular the massive antique bed from antebellum Missouri - is definitely something to marvel at. The bed boasts a 10-foot-high headboard, carved out of walnut wood, and inlaid with precious burlwood. And, the bathroom alone is something to gaze at with its pink-marble, shell-shaped Jacuzzi tub.
Wings Castle -- 75 miles north of New York City
Wings Castle is the creation of artist Peter Wing and his wife, physical therapist Toni Wing. One sketch led to another and to another, and 35 years later the castle was completed. What's intriguing about this castle is that unlike most castles built with brick and cement, Wings Castle is composed of/was constructed with 85 percent recycled local materials.
Gazing down at the Great Room's massive antique trusses, if you feel like you've just stepped into an antique store, you're not far off the mark. The Wings share a passion for collecting and love to share their items with visitors. Peter has an eye for military regalia, while Toni collects frilly, feminine items such as mannequins, dresses and fabrics.
Each item within Wings Castle has a story behind it - for instance, the skull Peter bought from a dentist who packed up and left for Montana. However, one of the more interesting stories is that of the bathtub. After reading an episode from Peanuts, Peter wanted to re-create a scene with Snoopy and Woodstock, his little yellow bird friend, playing in what appeared to be a bath. From an antique planter to a bathtub, according to Peter, "Bathing here feels like stepping into a magical cauldron."
Walking into the kitchen, visitors quickly realize this isn't their grandmother's kitchen. Spooky wood carvings hang on the door, a Buddhist shrine sits atop an antique wood-burning stove, and a 58-year-old macaw sits peacefully to welcome guests.
Boldt Castle -- Thousand Islands, in upstate New York
In 1904, hotel mogul George C. Boldt built this 35,000-square-foot, 120-room masterpiece for $2 million to show his love and adoration for his wife, Louise. Unfortunately, Louise died of a rare disease when Boldt Castle was only 95 percent complete. The day she died, work on the castle stopped and never continued. Despite the main floor of the castle being completed and furnished, the top level and the rest of the castle grounds were never touched after that day, until 50 years later, when the Thousand Island Bridge Authority spent $16 million to bring Boldt Castle back to its original beauty.
Inspired by the castles of Germany's Rhine Valley, Boldt Castle was constructed in five years with the help of 300 men who worked day in and day out. Among them were some of the finest craftsmen in the world, who donated their time and design expertise to the project. For the castle to visually symbolize his love for his wife, Boldt chose a heart motif throughout and had the island upon which the castle sits reshaped and renamed, fittingly enough, Heart Island. Boldt also had three separate castles constructed. They included an arched bridge and a raw stone masterpiece designed as a playhouse for guests to enjoy an evening outdoor movie. The latter overlooks the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Making their way inside Boldt Castle, guests enter into the 3-story Grand Foyer inlaid with marble, which leads to the foot of the fireplace up to the stained-glass cupola. Through the Grand Foyer and past the grand Staircase, visitors will find themselves in the living room, where the walls are covered in deep red and the floors are dark parquet. The two main attractions of the living room are the upholstered-leather writing desk and a library of books protected within glass-pane shelves. The dining room is a mix between a traditional Adirondack lodge and a medieval castle, with the focal point of the room being a formal portrait of George C. Boldt with Boldt Castle in the background. What completed the space for Boldt and his guests was the billiard room. The gentlemen usually retired there to shoot a few rounds of pool and have a quick smoke, while the ladies retreated to the sitting room for the evening gossip.
Of the many yacht houses that existed within the Thousand Islands years ago, Boldt yacht house is the largest and last one standing. Boldt commanded his fleet of over 60 vessels from the yacht house, which is just a short boat ride from the castle. The fleet required a full-time staff of 22, including the captain, whose private quarters had a living room and formal dining room.
Today, over 70 weddings are performed at the Boldt Castle properties each year, bringing visitors to the Thousand Islands region from all over the United States.
For more information visit the Web Site.
Cherokee Ranch and Castle -- Colorado
Built in the 1950s, out of local volcanic stone and modeled after 15th-century Scottish castles, this castle-ranch was run by Tweet Kimball, Southern
belle-turned-diplomat's wife-turned rancher. At the height of Cherokee Castle, the 9,000 acres were home to 800 head of cattle that had been imported from Texas to the Colorado highlands.
Kimball took her Southern charm from ranch handler to gracious hostess. She threw countless parties in the Great Room, which opens up to a beautiful veranda overlooking the highlands. She and her staff likewise would often transform the massive dining room from an elegant dinner party setting to a place where cowhands would come with their muddy boots and get a quick bite to eat.
Well-traveled in Europe, Kimball was an avid art collector of antiques from Sotheby's and Christie's, and she's displayed her treasures throughout the castle. The living quarters have every touch of luxury. Kimball's private area of the castle features a lavish suite with a master bedroom, as well as a living room, and, a pale blue bedroom for her mother. As Kimball sensed she was growing older, she decided to build a memorial garden on the ranch. That structure was erected and with it a large piece of petrified wood was placed in the middle to mark Kimball's memorial spot.
When dusk approaches the Cherokee Castle, the best place to observe the final moments of the day is up the spiral staircase at the top of the tower.
For more information visit their Web Site.
Running Water Castle -- Montana
Four years and 1,600 tons of stone completed the Running Water Castle. Spanning over 30 square miles, Running Water blends European, Native American and Western design elements. The results mirror its surrounding stone hillside, which makes Running Water appear more like a medieval castle. But that's just the outside. Running Water Castle got its name from the actual river that runs through it. The water runs straight through a circular stone terrace and down through a gap in the handrail, cascading from the castle into a natural stone pool. At the center of this stone turret sits a hot tub that is constantly fed with 70-degree mineral water from a local hot spring. The ultimate serenity!
When guests enter Running Water, they are greeted by an ancient Chinese guard in front of a rough-hewn Montana pine door. Just past the guard, their eyes gaze upon a soaring 2-story great room with an open floor plan and giant tree trunk pillars. Visitors can dine at a 15th-century antique dining table and have a night cap in front of the boulder fireplace in the leather seating area.
Just off the Great Room is the African Room. The owner of Running Water, a former chief financial officer of one of the world's largest software companies, also owns a hunting lodge in Africa - hence, the inspiration for the additional room. The circular shape of the thatch roof is modeled after an African village hut. Guests can sit and gaze at the asymmetrical slab fireplace, or admire the original collection of bead, stone and wood artifacts. The Running Water kitchen is something to be seen as well, with its picture windows that span the entire width of the room, copper air vent and wood-burning bread oven.
No castle would be complete without a master bedroom, and Running Water is no exception. Nine hundred square feet make up the master wing, complete with a beautiful master bathroom whose main focus is a striking square porcelain bath that overflows into a black marble tub. If the master bedroom isn't enough to relax guests, they can decompress in the Zen Room, with its Japanese-style paper screens, small stone fountain and private spa. A wooden bridge over the lap pool leads to the hot tub and, last but not least, a state-of-the-art fitness room.
Captain Burke's Castle -- Miami, Florida
Built to attract rather then to intimidate, this unusual Miami Beach abode has the outside makings of a castle, with its iron gates, scary sculptures and shark-filled moat. On the inside, however, it's a different story.
Birthed from the vision of Capt. Michael Burke, creator of the Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, the inside of this castle is as Gothic as can be. The Grand Entrance Hall is decorated with a massive fireplace and hand-crafted seating area that replicates King Arthur's Excalibur. The dining room, inspired by King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, boasts its own round table.
And what castle would be complete without a media room? In designing his, Capt. Burke blended his love of medieval style with modern technology. From the half-moon shape stained-glass panel to the unusual circular aquarium, this media room is sure to please welcoming guests.
Some additions to the castle include the billiard room and the master bedroom, with its skylight and elevated circular bed. Given that Capt. Burke's is situated on Biscayne Bay, creating several outlets to gaze at the magnificent ocean view was a necessary element in the castle's design. Guests can walk up to the Observation Room or to one of the many balconies. Besides featuring gorgeous bay and ocean views, this castle is surrounded by a beautiful swimming pool modeled after the rivers of the West Indies.