© 2022 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Danbury Voters To Decide Future Of Hearthstone Castle

hearthstone1_flickrlikeaduck_161107.jpg
likeaduck
/
Flickr
The Hearthstone Castle in Danbury, Conn. On Tuesday voters will decide if the city will

An abandoned century-old castle on a wooded hilltop in Danbury could be converted into a garden if the city’s voters approve a bond package on Tuesday. Hearthstone Castle has been slowly deteriorating for years, even as groups have fought to save it.

The castle’s stone walls are covered in ivy and graffiti. There’s a wire fence around the castle, but someone cut a hole in it.

Becky Petro, who is with a group that oversees the property, says, “This is the chronic problem we kinda have up here, is that people are constantly trying to get past the fences.”

The castle is a popular spot for urban explorers and amateur photographers – even though technically no one is allowed past the fence.

“We constantly put up no trespassing signs. We did some last week and they’re gone already.”

Petro says it’s not safe enough to let people in. The castle’s roof caved in years ago, and it took the floors with it. Still, you understand why people would want to take photos.

“From the large stone mantles on all the windows, this arched rockway here, the tower up top, just a beautiful old building.”

More than a century ago, Hearthstone Castle was the place to be. It was built in the 1890s as a honeymoon cottage for a New York City portrait artist and his wife. It changed hands a few times over the years, but it was always a swanky weekend getaway for millionaires. Who doesn’t want to party at a castle in the woods?

“It must have been magnificent…Even today, in its state of disrepair, you could picture the grandeur of it. Great woodwork, handcarved items, beautiful wood floors, a grand staircase.”

Eventually it fell out of use. The city bought the property in the ’80s, but no one wanted to put down the money for upkeep. All that beautiful wood is rotted away. If voters approve the bond package, first the city will figure out how much of the castle they can save. Petro hopes they can at least save the stone walls.

“Just something that we can still utilize, the property, that people can come up and see the architecture, see the history as it ties back to Danbury.”

She envisions, maybe, the inside could be converted into an open-air garden with a pavilion, and she’s pretty sure people would still come to look at what’s left.

“You don’t find things like this out in the woods in Connecticut.”

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.