17 Oldest Castles In America You Should Know

How much do you know about the oldest castles in America? Well, you’re about to refresh your knowledge of America’s surprising collection of castles. 

America is a land of history, beauty, and landmarks. It houses several landmarks and iconic structures dating back to the 17th century. 

Castles are medieval buildings with thick, strong walls. They can serve as residence for the king or lord of the land. Wealthy Americans built castles years ago, and some are still standing strong.

These castles have become a tourist attraction in the country, with visitors flocking to the various regions from far and near. Here, the goal is to examine the oldest castles in the land. 

Are you ready to refresh your memory? If yes, join me on this journey. 

1: Bacon’s Castle:

Constructed in 1665, Bacon’s Castle is the oldest in the United States of America. It is the only surviving Jacobean architecture in the New World. 

The Bacon’s Castle goes by diverse names. It is either called the Allen’s Brick House or Arthur Allen House. Arthur Allen built the house in scenic Surry, Virginia, when he was 57. 

Why the name “Bacon’s Castle?” 

The name “Bacon Castle” has undoubtedly become more popular than “Arthur Allen House,” the name of the man who built the house. The reason was that Nathaniel Bacon’s supporters used the castle in 1676. It was used during Bacon’s Rebellion, an armed rebellion by Virginia settlers between 1676 and 1677.

Contrary to claims, there has been no account of Nathaniel Bacon’s presence in the Arthur Allen House. He didn’t step foot in the house or live there his entire life. 

2: Iolani Palace: 

The second oldest castle in the United States of America is the Iolani Palace, built in 1882 by King Kalakaua. It served as the official residence of Hawai’i’s monarchs. 

So, several monarchs made this palace their humble abode, from Kamehameha III (1845) under the famous Kamehameha Dynasty to Queen Liliʻuokalani (1893) under the Kalakaua Dynasty. 

The Iolani Palace is located at King St., Honolulu, Hawaii, around the capitol area. However, it has now become a public museum. 

The National Register for Historic Places recognized the Iolani Palace as a National Historic Landmark. But a lot went on before the building became a museum and state property. 

Firstly, it was designated the capital of the provisional government, republic, state, and territory from 1893 until 1969, following the abolishment of monarchs in the land. 

This palace had some makeover around 1978 and later became a public museum.  

3: Bishop’s Palace:

The Bishop’s Palace, also called “Gresham’s Castle,” is an ornate 19,082 square feet Victorian-style house. Constructed of stones, the Bishop’s Palace is firm enough to withstand even the 1900 great hurricane. 

This medieval palace’s construction began between 1887 and 1893. Walter Gresham, a politician and attorney, owns the castle. He, together with his wife and nine children, occupied the castle.

The Bishop’s Palace is on Broadway and 14th Street in the East End Historic District. The National Register of Historic Places recognizes this house as a National Historic Landmark. 

A Handy Tip: The estimated cost of the Bishop’s Palace was $250,000. But today, its value should be over $5 million. 

Additionally, the Galveston Historic Foundation now owns this castle. They acquired it in 2013. 

4: Biltmore Estate:

The Biltmore Estate is another incredible castle and medieval building worth discussing. The appeal, design, and detail make this castle worth visiting. 

When was the Biltmore Estate constructed? The castle’s construction began around the 1800s. 

The Biltmore Estate, located in Asheville, N.C., and George Vanderbilt’s vacation residence, is a gigantic property. It is a 250-room castle, regarded as the largest home in America and a popular side attraction in Asheville.

A visit to this property, and you may want to extend your stay. Why? There are plenty of things to explore, learn, and do here. 

You’ll be able to explore 8,000 acres of ground space and interact with nature. The Baltimore Estate houses the first ever maintained forest on an estate in the United States of America. 

A Handy Tip: George W. Vanderbilt was one of the wealthiest men in America in his time. He was fortunate to inherit $2 million from his grandfather. His father also gave him another million dollars while celebrating his 21st birthday.          

When his father died, he inherited $5 million. He also received money from a $5 million trust fund.  

Today, Biltmore Estate is worth over $300 million when considering the area’s restaurants, hotels, private residences, and outbuildings.  

5: Boldt Castle:

Boldt Castle is a historic landmark in the Thousand Island area of New York. Its construction started around 1900. 

George Boldt, a successful businessman and hotelier, owns this castle. He earned a fortune from the hotel business and even managed the famous Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

The Boldt Castle, constructed in 1900, cost an estimated $2.5 million. Today, it is worth more than $60 million.   

6: Joslyn Castle:

This George and Sarah Joslyn mansion is a structure that would take your breath away. It is a 35-room mansion constructed in 1903.

This castle was built in the Scottish Baronial style. The National Register of Historic Places acknowledged the building in 1972. In 1979, it was officially designated an Omaha Landmark. 

A Handy Tip: This iconic mansion boasts an iron-wrought door that weighs almost a ton. Additionally, John McDonald, a famous regional architect, handled the architectural work.

7: Fonthill Castle:

This castle is one of the oldest in America and features a unique style. It was constructed around 1908 and 1912. 

This castle pioneered the use of poured-in-place concrete. It was the home of Henry Chapman Mercer, an archaeologist, ceramicist, anthropologist, antiquarian, and scholar. 

Mercer didn’t invest in this building to use it as a residential area alone. He had other plans. Mercer had plans to showcase his tiles and paintings, which he did successfully in this castle. 

The National Register of Historic Places added this castle in 1972. He then joined the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works and Mercer Museum.

A Handy Tip: The Fonthill Castle is a gigantic building featuring 10 baths, 44 rooms, 18 fireplaces, 200 windows, and a powder room.  

8: Hearst Castle: 

The Hearst Castle, a 115-room building, is a must-visit. William Randolph Hearst built the castle on his ranchland from 1919 to 1947. 

Formerly known as La Cuesta Encantada, The Hearst castle sits on 51 ha of land. Its architectural styles are the Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture. 

This castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. However, the estate and castle have been added as a component of the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument since 1958. 

A Handy Tip: The Hearst Castle is every home-owner’s dream. The sitting room boasts a velvet-covered wall and ceiling, all painted.

This castle features over 40 bathrooms, 38 bedrooms, a beauty parlor, and a theatre. 

9: Chateau Laroche:

The Chateau Laroche is also regarded as a “Loveland.” It sits on the banks of the Little Miami River, north of Loveland, Ohio, United States of America. 

This castle’s construction is medieval style. Sir Harry Andrews, a medievalist, built the Chateau Laroche castle by hand. He started building the castle in 1929.   

Many facts about this castle turn heads. Did you know this castle took Sir Harry Andrews, the original owner, 50 years to build? He took his time to make the castle into his dream home. 

The castle is now a museum located on the banks of the Little Miami River north of Loveland, Ohio. You can explore this area with your family or visit alone. 

There is plenty to do and see in this castle. Additionally, the ground area serves as a special picnic area. You’ll find restaurants around this castle serving delicious dishes. 

10: Kentucky Castle: 

Known also as Martin Castle, Castle Post, and Versailles Castle, the Kentucky Castle located in Kentucky is a famous castle in America. 

The original owners of this iconic castle started building it in 1969. A change of ownership took place in 2004, which brought massive rehabilitation to the building.  

The castle serves as a venue for special events, including bed & breakfast. However, a change of ownership in 2017 meant the castle had to be remodeled. 

Numerous weddings and events still happen in this castle, making it a place for special events. Another thing that makes it unique is the farm-to-table restaurant it has. 

A Handy Tip:  The owners of this castle have decided to put it up for sale, with a price of over $3 million. Additionally, there are discussions on whether to change the castle into a restaurant or museum. For the restaurant, the plan was to give it a medieval theme.     

11: Bluebeard’s Castle (Virgin Islands)

This castle is a unique structure. The Danes were the first to build it in the late 1600s, using it as a stronghold to help reinforce Fort Christian. 

The castle boasts different lives. However, the United States government purchased it in 1933, turning it into a hotel. The idea was to promote tourism, as the location and appeal of the castle make it an excellent destination for tourism.  

A Handy Tip: President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited this castle in 1934.  

12: Castle Williams New York:

The castle is a prominent landmark in NYC Harbor. It is a circular defensive work of red stones on the west point of Governors Island, New York Harbor. 

This castle was built around the early 19th century and used to protect NYC from naval attack. The United States Army remodeled this castle at some point and used it as a prison during the Civil War. 

In 2003, this circular fortification was transferred to the National Park Service under the administration of the Governors Island National Monument. 

13: Boston University Castle

Firstly, remember that William Lindsey, a famous Boston businessman, built this castle. The purpose was to serve as his residential home and nothing more. 

Construction of the Boston University Castle started around 1915. Most people would be wondering how the name came about. Well, the castle changed hands. In 1938, it was handed over or gifted to Boston University. 

This castle is a Tudor Revival style. It is one of the most appealing castles in the area. Boston University used it for concerts and receptions and even rented it out.  

14: Gillette Castle:

The Gillette Castle is one of the most famous castles in Connecticut. In 1914, director, actor, and playwright William Hooker built this magnificent castle.

The outer portion of this castle is a turn-off. It can make visitors decide against checking the interior. But if you do well to check the inside of the castle, you’ll be thrilled. You’ll find modern amenities and tons of space to move around.

15: Lambert Castle:

This castle is located in New Jersey. It is a medieval Revival-style home built by Catholina Lambert in 1892. Catholina Lambert was the owner of a popular silk mill. 

Lambert had stored memories of castles in Great Britain from childhood. Thus, he was eager to replicate the castles he could remember from his childhood.    

A Handy Tip: The original name of this castle was Belle Vista, but the name was later changed in 1923 following Lambert’s demise. 

16: Singer Castle

The Singer Castle is located in New York and on the Dark Island close to New York’s Chippewa Bay.  

The construction of this castle started in 1905. And it was Frederick Bourne, the Singer Sewing Machine’s fifth president, who commissioned it. That’s why it had the name “singer.”

A Handy Tip: This castle has stayed with the original owners for an extended period. It only changed hands in the mid-1960s. 

17: Castillo de San Marcos: 

Castillo is America’s oldest masonry fort. It is located in St. Augustine, Florida. This Spanish stone fortress is a gorgeous building. This mansion was constructed over 315 years ago. 

The original aim of this structure was to defend Spain’s claims to New York. Now, it’s a side attraction. Pay a visit to this castle to see how soldiers lived here.

Best Castles In New York City 

If you are in New York and looking to refresh your knowledge of castles in the state and even explore them, you’re in the right place.  

1: The Lyndhurst Castle:

Here is a gorgeous castle located in Tarrytown, New York. It is situated opposite the Hudson River and is regarded as New York’s best Gothic Revival Architecture. 

This castle serves as an event center and museum. It boasts several halls people can rent for their events. 

2: The Belvedere Castle:

This castle now serves as a Central Park Visitor Center and is available to the public. You can locate this medieval structure in the middle of the park.

The Belvedere Castle was designed in 1865. 

3: The Bannerman Castle: 

Here is another gorgeous castle in New York. It is situated in Beacon, New York. The ruins of this castle are just around the famous Hudson River. 

Francis Bannerman IV used The castle as an arsenal. Additionally, it was partially destroyed in 1969 by a fire outbreak. 

4: The Boldt Castle

You will find this gorgeous castle in Alexandria, New York. A castle constructed for love, history teaches us that Boldt built the castle for his beloved wife. 

Unfortunately, she couldn’t enjoy her castle before death took her away. 

 5: The Castle Gould:

This castle was built in Sands Point, New York, in 1904. It was constructed for Howard Gould and Katherine Clemmons, his wife.

This castle is captivating from the inside out. It was modeled after Ireland’s Kilkenny Castle. Unlike other women, Gould’s wife didn’t fancy the mansion. She claimed it was too long, forcing Gould to convert it to a servants’ quarter. 

Access to the other part of this castle is free. You can take your family or friends for a picnic. T.V.  productions and events are hosted in this castle. 

Conclusion

These are the oldest castles in America. Many of them were founded centuries ago and stand firm. They have become popular tourist centers in America, with thousands of people trooping into the regions to explore the medieval structures. 

You can visit these historic castles to learn about those who lived there. Learn about their cultures and how they managed to build such gigantic structures. They achieved these feats in an era when technology wasn’t so advanced. This makes the castles unique and a must-visit. 

Francis Stein
Francis Stein
Francis Stein is a writer and traveler who has already traveled most of the states of America. He loves to explore new places and meet new people, and he hopes to continue traveling the world in search of adventure. Francis enjoys writing about his experiences as a way of sharing his love for exploration with others.

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