Seventh Sister: a Castle on the Connecticut River

Gillette's CastleHigh above the Connecticut River between East Haddam and Lyme, Connecticut, is one of the most unique castles I’ve ever seen in the U.S. Not only was it hand built by the famous William Gillette, an actor who is most famous for his role as Sherlock Holmes on stage, but it was his home for many years. When he passed, his will described who he didn’t want to take over the estate as the “blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded.” The state took over the 184-acre property and changed its name from Seventh Sister to Gillette’s Castle and in 1986 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Gillette was a clever guy and built in several odd details to his castle on the hill, including unusual doorknobs and locks, and a system of hidden mirrors for surveillance of the public rooms from the master bedroom. It is now home to a museum, hiking trails, picnic areas, and is host to many celebrations throughout the year. The castle was closed for nearly four years from 1998-2002, and after 11 million dollars spent it was restored to its present-day glory. One of the only missing parts from the original estate is an old mini train and rail system in which visitors could ride around the property. The tracks were given to the local amusement park, Lake Compounce, but a small engine still exists at Gillette’s.

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