Atop a small hilly path in Danbury, Connecticut lies a crumbling castle. The New York photographer E. Starr Sanford had it built between 1896 and 1899 as his summer retreat. The castle had 16 rooms including nine bedrooms, a library, and billiard room. The exterior was made from local stone, however, the wood—some of which still remains in the veranda—was imported from Italy.
Sanford and his family lived there for five years before selling it in 1902 to a gentleman named Victor Buck. In 1918, Buck sold it to Charles Darling Parks, who bought it for his daughter Irene. Charles renamed the castle “Hearthstone,” reportedly after the eight stone fireplaces throughout the castle. Hearthstone remained in the Parks family for 70 years.
In 1985, the city of Danbury purchased Hearthstone Castle and Tarrywile Mansion, which lies across the street in Tarrywile Park. In 2008, several teenagers were arrested for vandalizing what remained of the castle interior. (They were caught after posting a video of their romp on YouTube.) In 2016, the city approved a plan to convert the long-abandoned castle into a walled garden.
Know Before You Go
There is a path near an information board when walking up to the castle on your right. If you follow it, you'll come across two wooden structures, a tower and a small shack. The castle is in a park which is public property, so entering the castle itself shouldn't be an issue. The center of the castle is rotted and has been damaged by fire—extreme caution is recommended.