Gillette Castle – Hadlyme/East Haddam


Gillette Castle State Park is straddling the towns of East Haddam and Lyme, Connecticut, in the United States. Sitting high above the Connecticut River, the castle was originally a private residence commissioned and designed by William Gillette, an American actor who is most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on stage.

William Gillette’s “castle”, called Seventh Sister, was built in 1914 on a 184-acre (74┬áha) tract at the top of the southernmost of a chain of hills known as the Seven Sisters. After Gillette died, having neither a wife or children, he had his will preclude the possession of his home by any “blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded”. The State of Connecticut took over the property in 1943, renaming it Gillette Castle State Park. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.[2]

There are a number of oddities personally designed by Gillette, such as unusual doorknobs and locks, and a system of hidden mirrors for surveillance of the public rooms from the master bedroom. One can see the Connecticut River from the castle’s garden.

The grounds originally had a railroad visitors could ride around the estate, complete with steam engine and an electric engine. Some of the track was later purchased by Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut and is used to transport guests around the lake. The remaining track was pulled up and the roadbed converted into walking trails. The engines were donated to the park in 1992, and are now on display.