Hearthstone Castle

Black and white photo of castle in 1985 with boxy compact car parked in front

Hearthstone Castle ca. 1985 – D. Caple (source: NPS.gov)

Current photo of same side of castle overgrown with vines and shrouded in fall foliage

Hearthstone Castle Fall of 2015

Hearthstone-Castle-ca-1985

Hearthstone Castle ca 1985 – D. Caple (source: NPS.gov)

Current photo of same side of castle overgrown with vines and shrouded in fall foliage

Hearthstone Castle Fall of 2015

Location: Danbury, CT

E. Star Sanford built Hearthstone Castle, formerly known as “Sanford Castle”, in 1897 as a summer residence. Sanford was a successful New York portrait photographer from a wealthy Danbury family, known for his portraits of notable families such as the Astors and Vanderbilts. In addition to the standard residential chambers, this medieval fortress had nine bedrooms, a library and billiard room. Sanford only kept the home for five years before selling it to industrialist Victor Buck who renamed the building in his own honor to Buck Castle. He later sold the house to Charles Darling Parks, a successful purveyor of hats and furs, who renamed it to Hearthstone Castle. The Parks Family owned the property until it was sold to the city of Danbury in 1985 for inclusion in Tarrywile Park. Since the city’s purchase, the once majestic castle has fallen into disrepair.

Close up of castle showing boarded up windows and vines growing on stone walls

Hearthstone Castle

Photo of dining room from 1985 featuring an average size dining room table with chairs, a low ceiling with a small chandelier and a large window flooding the room with light

Dining Room 1985 – D. Caple (source: NPS.gov)

Entry hall with fire place with a painting above the wood mantle

Entry Hall 1985 – D. Caple (source: NPS.gov)

Music hall featuring a marble fireplace with small statue on the hearth and two vases sitting on the mantle on either side of a painting. Next to the fireplace is a chair and a chest of drawers.

Music Room, 1985 – D. Caple (source: NPS.gov)

Today, the castle is in terrible shape, succumbing to the elements and vandals. At some point the roof was compromised leaving the rest of the structure vulnerable to an accelerated decay. Adding insult to injury, the castle was stormed by five local youths in 2008 who sacked the place like a horde of angry Saxons. The marauding teenagers posted a Youtube video of their raid, which led to their arrest. By the time I visited the castle, the place was little more than a majestic ruin. The floors had caved in completely, leaving the interior in a splintered mess, the windows were all busted out and the patio was collapsing.

Wood cistern housed in tall wood shed near the castle

Cistern Near Castle

The latest news I could find on the castle was an article about a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued in June of 2014 to solicit the services of an engineering firm to stabilize the structure. As of the time of my photos it did not look as though any structural reinforcing had been installed. If the building were to be stabilized it would be the first step in the city’s vision of restoring the Castle to its former glory. Hopefully Danbury can allocate the necessary funds to preserve this piece of history; after all, the castle is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Sources:

  1. “Hearthstone Castle” Friends of Tarrywile Park
  2. Bendici, Ray “Hearthstone Castle, Danbury” Damned Connecticut
  3. “Hearthstone Castle” Hartford Courant
  4. Ofgang, Erik “Danbury Accepts Bids to Preserve Connecticut’s Oldest Castle” Connecticutmag.com
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