A prized landmark and state park in East Haddam, Gillette’s Castle was constructed in 1919. Its construction was initiated and overseen by actor and playwright William Hooker Gillette. Gillette’s Castle is positioned on an 184 acre span of land and overlooks the beautiful Connecticut River. After Gillette’s death the State of Connecticut purchased the castle and its land in 1943. The state renamed the site to Gillette Castle State Park and opened the site to the public.
In prior years the park featured a railroad and train station allowing guests to quickly navigate the park, however, the trains and railroads have been dismantled since then leaving only the “Grand Central Station” beside the castle. On the far side of the park is Gillette’s Gold Fish Pond and his Vegetable Cellar. In addition to these original sites guests can also stop inside the Visitor Center or the Food Concessions.
Gillette Castle State Park attracts visitors from both East Haddam as well as surrounding towns in Connecticut. Nina Dumont of East Haddam remarked, “We’ve only lived here for about a month.” she added “This is our second time at Gillette’s Castle in a month just because it’s so gorgeous up here and the kids get to run around and we go hiking.” Another newcomer, Emerson Colwell, from Old Lyme stated, “It’s my first time here, I love it, it’s beautiful.”
His sentiment seems to ring true no matter how many times you visit the state park. Nancy Juraska from Middletown declared, “It’s magnificent, it’s historical and it’s wonderful to visit four, five, six, ten times – you always learn something new.” For some, however, the history of Gillette’s Castle takes on a more personal form. Eric Juraska of Hebron remarked, “I just remember it as a kid in old home movies and eight millimeter film so I like to come back here it’s a little bit of a nice memory for me.” The Gillette Castle State Park seems to provide its guests with an abundance of positivity and happiness, a necessary visit for families and historians alike.
Photo Credit Joseph Heitman
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