Boston December 01, 2017
The Hidden Castle Near Boston That Almost No One Knows About
Gloucester has a reputation for gorgeous, sandy beaches and whale watching. However, those are far from this North Shore town’s only attractions. Hidden away on the edge of a cliff is a Medieval-style castle!
John Hays Hammond, Jr. was the son of a successful mining engineer. Hammond was a prolific inventor, with 400 patents and hundreds of inventions to his name; the only person in the country who held more patents was Thomas Edison. Hammond is best known for using radio waves to develop remote control technology.
Hammond used to scare local fishermen when he sent unmanned, remote-controlled boats into the ocean. Think driverless cars are unnerving? Try ghost ships.
Hammond Castle was built between 1926 and 1929. Hammond presented it as a gift to his new bride, Irene Fenton Hammond.
The castle served as the couple’s home. It also housed Hammond’s huge collection of artifacts.
You can actually take a self-guided tour of the castle.
The imposing exterior is made from Cape Ann granite. Many of the windows and doorways come from old castles and churches in Europe, so they're much older than the rest of the building.
Like every good castle, this one boasts a drawbridge…
…a library (with a whispering ceiling)…
…a Renaissance dining room…
...and ornate bed chambers.
You may or may not discover the castle’s hidden doors and secret passageway!
Wander through the dramatic inner courtyard.
It contains parts of a 14th century French village.
Unlike most genuine Medieval castles, the amenities here include an indoor pool – probably not a priority for the average noble.
Hammond’s artifacts are on display throughout his home. Frankly, some are a little creepy.
Hammond was interested in the occult. He collected Roman tombstones and the museum has a human skull that's supposed to be from a member of Christopher Columbus’ crew.
Then again, what else would you expect from a man who led one-man funeral processions through town whenever one of his Siamese cats died? He would preserve his deceased pets in jars of formaldehyde.
Without doubt John Hays Hammond, Jr. was an eccentric guy. In addition to his mainstream scientific pursuits, he ran experiments to learn about ESP.
Despite these quirks Hammond kept company with some pretty famous folks. The likes of Cole Porter, John D. Rockefeller and Ethel and Lionel Barrymore, all visited the castle. And part of an episode of "Bewitched" was filmed here.
Rumors persist that Hammond Castle is haunted and it’s been featured on "Ghost Hunters." For Halloween, Hammond Castle does host a convincing haunted house, called Halls of Darkness.
Hammond died in 1965 and his estate passed through several different owners before becoming the museum you see today.
This seasonal attraction is open to the public from spring until fall.
Address: 80 Hesperus Avenue, Gloucester, MA 01930
Use the directions from
the castle’s website rather than GPS, which may lead you astray.
Have you checked out the best castle near Boston yet? Share your experiences (and photos) with us on Instagram (
@only.in.boston) or Boston Only on Facebook!
For a tour of more Massachusetts castles, read our past article: “
This Road Trip To Massachusetts’ Most Majestic Castles Is Like Something From A Fairytale.”