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.
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.
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.