“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” ~Shakespeare, King Richard III
What is the value of a kingdom? Some American ‘lords’ thought the value high enough to build their own ‘kingdom.’
Since beginning this series, I have had some suggestions of castles in New England and I want to reiterate my criteria for which castles I am including. I am not including churches or armories, many of which are castle-like. The castles listed here are known to be accessible to the public. There are many more privately owned castles, and a very extensive listing of castles by state can be found here. If there is a building you would consider a castle, then it is probably on the listing at this link. If not, contact him, he would love to hear about it.
With that said, here are my selections for Maine.
Castle Tucker – Wiscasset ME-1807
As with some other structures in my castle series, this is not really a castle, but having the word ‘castle’ in the name makes it a candidate for my list. It is an impressive brick mansion which was known as Elm Lawn, a name inspired by the elms that were planted on the property.
This is a short version of the history: It was built by Silas Lee, one of the wealthiest men in Wiscasset, however, he died with debts. Later, Richard Tucker, a ship’s captain, purchased it in 1858, restored it, then he fell under hard times as well, and it was operated as a boarding house.
Bad luck seems to be associated with the place, if you ask me. Now it is owned by Historic New England and is open to the public from May to October as a historic house museum. It displays the Tucker’s many accumulated treasures. You can learn more about the history of the property at Historic New England‘s website.
Mann Castle- West Paris ME-1926
In this tiny town in middle-western Maine, appears a miniature medieval English castle which is the town library. The funds to build the town’s library were donated to the town of West Paris by Lewis M. Mann. His son, Edwin J Mann, doubled the contribution and oversaw the construction. Edwin was a manufacturer who had attended the University of Maine, and dedicated the library to his brother Arthur, who had also passed away years earlier.
The original oak door has hand crafted iron hinges and the building was crafted from local fieldstone. Although an addition was completed in 2010, the castle design of the original building remained intact.
Mount Battie Tower-Camden ME-1921
Located on the site of a grand hotel, Summit House, a hotel built by Columbus Bushwell. Later, it was purchased as a clubhouse, but it’s use declined and was torn down in 1918. The existing 26 foot high stone tower was built as a WWI Memorial using some of the hotel’s foundation stones.The tower is now part of the Camden Hills State Park and as well as numerous hiking trails, there is a seasonal toll road that can be used to reach the summit. You can walk the 1.6 miles to the top to see the impressive views Camden and Penobscot Bay which inspired a young lady named Edna St. Vincent Millay to write the poem Renascence, which begins,
All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked the other way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
However, all we could see on the day we visited in early spring, was swirling mist.
Norumbega Inn Castle-Camden ME-1886-semi-private
The castle was built by Joseph Barker Stearns, an inventor of the duplex telegraphy and reversed currents for fire alarm systems, and spent time in Europe for business. While there, he visited numerous castles. He took his favorite features of those castles, Châteauesque, Flemish, and Queen Anne, and incorporated them into the design of his own castle. It is named after a legendary Viking settlement which was supposed to have been in Northeastern North America. Samuel de Champlain believed he found the site of the settlement when he sailed up the Penobscot River to what is now Bangor ME in 1604.
Joseph Stearns only spent 9 years in the castle before his death in 1895. The castle was converted into a B&B, Norumbega Inn, in 1987, and has changed hands several times since then. As an inn, this property is sort of open to the public, so I included it in this listing. We had the pleasure of staying at this inn, and if you want to learn more about our stay, you can read that here.
Ogunquit Library-Ogunquit ME-1898
Commissioned by Nannie Conarroe in memory or her husband George. George was a Philadelphia lawyer and the couple were long time summer residents of the area. She intended a left and right wing be built and the left wing was built in 1914, but the second wing has never been built.
Old Post Office- Augusta ME-1890
At the time of its opening, the local newspaper called the post office “one of the most picturesque public buildings that the government has bestowed upon any city in the Union.” Built of Hollowell granite with a corner tower which became located in the center after an addition in 1910, with arches and winding staircase. It stopped being used as the main post office in the 1960’s, and is now known as the Old Federal Building.
Thanks for reading. ~Lisa