|Location: New York
Perched on a wooded hill in upstate New York is a gorgeous Gothic and Elizabethan style castle-like house that has been the object of mystery and intrigue for the better part of a century. (We’ll refer to it as Dragonsreach Castle on this website to protect its true identity in an attempt to help preserve it.) Who built this miniature castle? Who lived here? Why has such a unique place been left to the vandals and the elements? So many questions remain unanswered to this very day.
Research on the internet seems to have yielded so much varying information on Dragonsreach Castle, but I will do my best to piece together the things that I’ve learned, true or untrue. The land it stands on was purchased in 1907 by its builder and a lodge may have already been built at this location in the late 1800s. Interestingly, when construction of the L-shaped castle began, possibly around 1910, the castle was built to encapsulate the house. The castle was completed in 1924, although the owner died in 1921, never seeing the finished structure.
The house itself is characterized by gothic windows and doors, fireplaces, and marble and limestone stairs and fixtures. There are many rooms, and all of them have very low ceilings. One one side of the “L”, there is a series of cylindrical castle turrets, where they may have been an outdoor sitting area. Beyond the flat courtyard on the other side is what appears to be an unfinished area of the house, although there are theories that it was left purposely unfinished to look like ruins. According to my friend John Walker at Abandoned NY, parts of the house were imported from different countries in Europe. The roofing slate came from England and the marble for the floors, fireplace and staircases from Italy. The iron gates on the property were from France. The fireplace in the reception room was valued at over $5000 in 1910, which is a huge amount of money for that time. And if it wasn’t extravagant enough, gold leaf was used to cover it.
I was unable to find any information on when it became vacant, but in 1949, Dragonsreach Castle was said to have been purchased by someone. As of today, it does have a caretaker on the site to protect it from vandals and to maintain the property.
As one would expect, Dragonsreach Castle does have a few urban legends and myths surrounding it. The wife of the man who built it was committed to a sanitarium in the 1920s for mental illness, so of course, there are stories related to this. One story for instance claims that due to her deteriorating sanity, she was kept a virtual prisoner in a section of the house, so the doors had no knobs on the room-sides of them, and her scratches on the doors and around the windows in her efforts to escape can still be found to this day. She is also rumored to have been spotted in the castle in a white dress, and a set of “green eyes” would follow you, which are said to be hers. However, one old newspaper article states that there is no evidence to support that she ever lived at Dragonsreach Castle. Another urban legend, which may have stemmed from this story, is one that says the daughter was mentally disabled and was kept locked in the courtyard. To show her that he loved her, the father built three heart-shaped ponds for her on the bank if you look for them, you may still be able to find the imprints of the faded hearts. The daughter was also said to have been committed to a sanitarium, so it’s possible she never lived there either.
It’s unclear if this legend is related to the legends of the wife and daughter, but in the 1930s, there were tales of a woman who would let her long blonde hair hang from the towers to lure in fishermen to seduce them. Accounts described this woman as “demented”.
Perhaps we’ll never know the true history behind Dragonsreach Castle, but it sure is a magnificent location that inspires imagination. True or not, I think I’d be disappointed if it didn’t have some urban legends attached to it!