Grand Castles of America
The idea of a castle in America seems strange, considering most people probably think automatically of the cold, dark castles of England and Ireland. But castles in America have been creatively reinvented. From the East Coast to the West, discovered the beauty of these American castles, including the old, the new and the most magnificent.
Sir Ivan's Castle (Southampton, NY)
The 13,000-square-foot castle in the Hamptons is home to owners Ivan Wilzig — aka recording artist Sir Ivan — and his brother, Alan, a banking executive. What makes a castle a home? A gold-tinged suite with a mahogany 4-poster bed and an armored standing guard, of course! And that's not all. Sir Ivan's Castle also features a fireplace and a movable TV that are both controlled by the click of a switch.
The dining room, which seats 20 on red-velvet chairs with sculpted phoenixes, is just 1 sign that this castle was built for more than 2. 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 or serving it up on the tennis court. Let's not forget the professional billiards table, private gym and spa.
When the sun goes down, there's a dance floor that accommodates hundreds and a plush screening section with exotic furnishings and star-shaped settees.
The Lion and the Rose Castle (Woodland Park, CO)
Built by physician Eric Glanzer and his wife, the Lion and the Rose Castle is the result of 5 years of construction. Named for the couple's love of animals, particularly cats, as well as the building's romantic flair, it is nestled in the beautiful surroundings of Pike National Forest.
The Lion and the Rose Castle was inspired by the Glanzers' many trips to Europe over the years, with designs that mimicked warmer 19th-century styles. A pair of French doors leads into the living rooms. Across from the Grand Hall, the dining room is the perfect place for an elegant meal. As you make your way to the kitchen, traces of Old World detailing are seen in the beautiful moldings above the central island. The breakfast nook lends itself to morning sun, which pours through and reveals 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 is definitely something to marvel at. The bed boasts a 10-foot-high headboard, carved out of walnut. Even the bathroom is amazing, with its pink-marble, shell-shaped Jacuzzi tub.
Wing's Castle (Millbrook, NY)
Wing's Castle, which is located about 75 miles north of New York City, is the creation of artists Peter and Toni Ann Wing. One sketch led to another and another, and 40 years later, the castle is (more or less) completed. What's intriguing is that unlike most castles, which are built with brick and cement, Wing's Castle was constructed using 80% recycled materials.
Gazing down at the Great Room's massive framework, you might feel as if you've just stepped into an antique store rather than a bed-and-breakfast. 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 in Wing's Castle has a story behind it — for instance, the skull Peter bought from a dentist who packed up and left for Montana.
As they move into the next room, visitors quickly realize that 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 6-decade-old macaw sits peacefully to welcome guests.
Boldt Castle (Heart Island, NY)
In 1900, hotel mogul George C. Boldt began building 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 in 1904, when Boldt Castle was only 95% complete. The day she died, work on the castle stopped and never continued. Despite the main floor being completed and furnished, the top level and the rest of the grounds weren't touched for more than 70 years, until the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority spent $16 million to bring the property back to its original beauty.
Inspired by the castles of Germany's Rhine Valley, Boldt Castle was constructed with the help of 300 men, who worked day in and day out. The island, located in the St. Lawrence River, features several structures besides the main castle, including Alster Tower, which was designed as a playhouse for guests, and an entry arch. Today, these buildings are a popular backdrop for wedding ceremonies.
As guests make their way into Boldt Castle, they enter the 3-story grand foyer, which is inlaid with marble and leads to the foot of a fireplace. Past the grand staircase is the living room, where the walls are covered in deep red and the floors are dark parquet. The room's 2 main attractions 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 being a formal portrait of George C. Boldt with Boldt Castle in the background.
Of the many yacht houses that existed within the Thousand Islands years ago, Boldt's was the largest and is the last one standing. He commanded his fleet of more than 60 vessels from the yacht house, which is just a short boat ride from the castle.
Cherokee Ranch and Castle (Sedalia, CO)
Built in the 1950s out of local volcanic stone and modeled after 15th-century Scottish castles, this castle was run by Tweet Kimball, a Southern belle turned diplomat's wife turned rancher, starting in 1954. At its height, Cherokee Ranch's 3,400 acres were home to a herd of 800 head of cattle, which began with a few dozen cows imported from Texas.
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 would often transform the massive dining room from an elegant dinner-party setting into a place where cowhands could come with their muddy boots and get a quick bite to eat.
Well-traveled in Europe, Kimball was an avid art collector of antiques, and her treasures are displayed throughout the castle. The living quarters have every touch of luxury. As she sensed she was growing older, Kimball decided to build a memorial garden on the ranch; she died in 1999. When dusk approaches Cherokee Castle, the best place to observe the final moments of the day is up the spiral staircase at the top of the tower.
Running Water Castle (Montana)
Four years and 1,600 tons of stone completed the Running Water Castle. Set on 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. The castle got its name from the actual river that runs through it. The water trickles 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 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 nightcap in front of the boulder fireplace in the leather seating area.
The Running Water kitchen is something to be seen as well, with picture windows that span the entire width of the room, a copper air vent and a ood-burning bread oven. But 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, which has Japanese-style paper screens, a small stone fountain and a 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.