When thinking of old historic palatial structures. we tend to assume that these can only be found in Europe or other areas overseas. The amazing thing is that there are a number of stunning buildings right here in America. Here are five of the nation’s most beautiful castles.
Boldt Castle (Alexandria Bay, NY) – When George Boldt and his wife were on vacation in the Thousand Islands, they encountered a heart-shaped isle. The industrialist quickly came up with a vision and, not only purchased the land, but hired 300 workers to create a six-story castle filled with 120 rooms. No expense was spared when it came to building a monument to attest to the love for his spouse but, when she died in 1904, he abandoned the project and it was left untouched for 73 years. Now, curious visitors can take self-guided tours or even get married in the stone gazebo. For more information visit www.boldtcastle.com.
Grey Towers Castle (Glenside, PA) – William Welsh Harrison wanted to mimic the quintessential medieval style of Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle and had Grey Towers built between 1893 and 1898. The sugar refiner commissioned 40 rooms designed with gilded ceilings, hand-carved mahogany and walnut wood work and a Mirror Room. The property also features secret passageways and underground tunnels. Although, it is now the site of Arcadia University, visitors can still tour the public areas. For more information visit www.arcadia.edu.
Bishop’s Palace (Galveston, TX) – Nicholas Clayton built a number of Gilded Age Victorians along Galveston’s Gulf Coast but Bishop’s Palace definitely stands out. Originally owned by railroad tycoon, Walther Gresham (it was originally called the Gresham Castle), it served as the home of a Catholic bishop for 50 years. The chateau-style dwelling was built in 1893 and survived the Great Storm of 1900. It features 14-foot coffered ceilings, a 40-foot octagonal mahogany stairwell, stained glass and bronze dragons. The home is now open to the public but private tours of the closed-off third floor are also available. For more information visit www.galveston.com.
Hearst Castle (San Simeon, CA) – This 115-room Spanish Cathedral inspired creation came to exist when William Randolph Hearst instructed architect, Julia Morgan, to “build a little something” on his property back in 1919. As is the original “Casa Grande” isn’t enough, there were Mediterranean Revival guesthouses added along with the Neptune pool (complete with authentic Roman temple pediment), Egyptian statues, a zoo and a private airstrip. The ambitious project remained unfinished up until Hearst’s death in 1951. For more information visit www.hearstcastle.org.
‘Iolani Palace (Honolulu, HI) – This is America’s only true palace since royalty did, in fact, once live within its walls. Completed in 1882, the palace served as the residence of King Kalakua and Queen Kapi’olani. The story goes that they created the two-floor American Florentine-style building in attempt to “keep up with the Joneses” and bring prestige to modern Hawaii. Inside, visitors will find a throne room, grand hall and a room that held the queen for five months when she was imprisoned following the 1895 coup. For more information, visit www.iolanipalace.org