West Virginia September 05, 2018
There’s A Medieval Castle Hiding In West Virginia And It’s Absolutely Stunning
Castles, for the most part, are the purview of European countries, whose castles and fortresses date back centuries to a time when monarchical rulers frequently faced the possibility of invasion from a foreign enemy. So, the notion of a castle in West Virginia may seem a bit out of place, and yet, we have one.
(We have two, actually; see the link below for more on the other).
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Berkeley Castle, located on a hill overlooking the town of Berkeley Springs, was designed in the English-Norman architectural style in the late 1800s. At the time, the town was called by a different name: Bath, most likely because people would come to bathe in the natural hot springs there.
The castle was built by Colonel Samuel Taylor Suite between the years 1885 and 1891, and he built it entirely for love.
Suite, a veteran of the Civil War, met 17-year-old Rosa Pelham, the daughter of a congressman, when he was 46. He fell in love with her and proposed marriage. She refused, and the two parted ways.
Five years later, the two ran into each other once again, and once again he proposed marriage. This time she accepted, perhaps due to his solemn pledge to build her a castle in the town of Bath.
Later that day, the couple walked up the hill to Warm Springs Ridge and decided it was the perfect spot to build their castle. So, Suite purchased the land and married Rosa a few days later.
After the marriage, Suite hired famed architect A.B. Mullett to design his castle. Mullett was known for designing the San Francisco Mint, U.S. State Department Building, the U.S. Treasury Building, and the New York Post Office.
Construction began in 1885 by 100 German masons. Each stone was hand cut from the silica sandstone mined in the area. It took them until 1891 to complete the castle.
Unfortunately, Suite did not live to see his vision completed. He died just short of the castle's completion in 1891. As stipulated in his will, in order for Rosa to receive her inheritance, she must see the castle to completion. So that is exactly what she did.
After the castle's completion, Rosa became known for hosting expensive and elaborate parties that would run all night long.
The elite of high society would come to the castle from D.C. and around the country. Each event had a full orchestra and catering. She would even rent entire train cars to bring people in, and further pay for hotels and spas in which they could stay, sometimes for longer than a week.
This lavish spending eventually caught up with her, and she was broke by the time she was 50 years old. As a result, the castle was sold at a public auction in 1909, and Rosa moved to a small cottage to raise chickens.
The castle changed hands a few times over the years. It has served as a boys' summer camp and a public museum. It was open until 1999, at which point the contents of the castle were sold. It has since been renovated and the castle's current owner, Andrew Gosline, restored it to its classical appearance, filling it with period items from the late 19th and early 20th century. He has also restored the castle's gardens.
Today, the castle has proven it can stand the test of time. While no longer open to the public, it is open for events (both private and corporate), fundraisers and weddings.
The castle exterior is always free to view, offering visitors a glimpse into the past, and proving that a castle does not solely exist as a means of security from foreign invaders. Sometimes, it is built for the beauty and appreciation of an architectural style more than 1000 years old.
To learn more about the castle, check out their website
Have you ever been to Berkeley Castle? Feel free to comment below and tell us about your visit.
So, as mentioned in the intro above, check out
this hidden West Virginia castle that will make you feel like you are in a fairytale.