Pennsylvania might not immediately spring to mind when you think of fairytale palaces, but it has its fair share of them. Don’t believe us? From the third-oldest castle in the United States to a sumptuous spa palace, here are some of the best castles in Pennsylvania.
Where are the best castles in Pennsylvania?
Also known as Bowman’s Castle, Nemacolin Castle dates back to the 1790s. That makes it the third-oldest castle in the United States. The Bowman family built the monumental structure more than two centuries ago and kept it in the family until 1959. Today, it’s a charming museum. Visitors can take a peek inside on a historical guided tour or by attending one of the many community events that take place here every year, like the Easter Celebration and National Pike Days. Or, if you’re looking for something a little more toe-curdling, you can book one of their famous haunted tours.
This fairytale place is inspired by the 13th-century castle located in England of the same name, though this version is considerably younger. Mr Heister built the 10-acre property as a vacation home for his fiance and the family kept hold of it until the mid-1950s. These days it’s one of the state’s most popular wedding venues. Between its stone arches, flowing fountains and fairytale turrets, it’s little wonder why. If you haven’t got plans to get betrothed any time soon, you can book yourself a table at The Lord’s Dining Room instead.
The archaeologist Henry Mercer Chapman commissioned this sprawling castle in the early 20th century. It’s one of the earliest examples of reinforced concrete architecture in the state, encompassing a whopping 44 rooms, over 200 windows and 18 fireplaces. He then built Mercer Museum, another castle less than one mile from the original. Having spent much of his early adulthood cruising around the Ruhr and picking up artefacts from preindustrial Europe, he wanted to somewhere to display his collection. Completed in 1916, this displays everything from pre-Industrial American textiles to antique fire engines. The Spruance Library houses the Bucks County Historical Society’s archive of historical research materials too.
Now a National Historic Landmark, this hilltop castle encompasses a three-story stone manor house, former servants’ quarters, a carriage house, a dairy barn, a guest house and two gatehouses. The steel magnate Alan Wood Jr commissioned it in the same year as George W. Vanderbilt’s Biltmore at Asheville. Inspired by the French chateaux of the Loire Valley, many regard it as one of the finest examples of late Gothic and French Renaissance style architecture in the country. In 1953, the evangelist Father Divine purchased the 72-acre estate and established it as the centre of his International Peace Mission movement. It’s open to the public on Sunday afternoons, with free guided tours.
Located on the Civil War battlefield, Little Round Top is actually a memorial. It was dedicated to the 44th New York and two companies from the 12th New York Infantry Regiments. Union General Daniel Butterfield designed the 44-ft tower and dedicated it in 1893. It cost $11,000, making it the largest and most expensive monument in the field. Visitors can enjoy sweeping views from the tower’s observation deck, accessed via a steep spiral staircase inside.
It might call itself a mansion, but Buhl Mansion is every inch a castle. Sharon’s great steel magnate, Frank H. Buhl, built the castle in the late 1880s for his new bride for a staggering $60,000.00. After they passed away, the property changed hands countless times and later became derelict. Its current owners, Jim and Donna Winner, have lovingly restored the property’s grand staircases and chandeliers, as well as all of the door and window casings. Nowadays, you can book in for a royal night’s sleep in one of its guest rooms. The hotel also boasts a beautiful spa that offers up a wide range of soul-stirring treatments and massages.
Described as a ‘castle-like mansion’, Glencairn Museum boasts a nine-story tower, intricately carved doorways, dozens of pillars and two huge rectangular wings. Multi-millionaire businessman Raymond Pitcairn and his wife, Mildred Glenn built the Romanesque-inspired structure between 1928 and 1939. Its name is a combination of both of their surnames. Today, it’s a prestigious museum of religious history and art. The collection includes 8,000 artworks spanning ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire, as well as Islamic, Asian, and Native American works.
The museum is open to the public, but one of the best times to visit is at Christmastime.