Arts and Leisure

Flashback Photo: Hearthstone Castle in Danbury, Conn.

Hearthstone Castle construction, 1895

Hearthstone Castle construction, 1895

Elias Starr Sanford built a castle in Danbury, Conn., for his new bride, Emma, who apparently didn’t like it much.

Sanford was a society portrait photographer who invented an early movie camera. He shared the late 19th-century taste for palatial country estates with lots of outbuildings — a caretaker’s cottage, carriage house, pumphouse, barn, woodshed and water tower.

It took four years, beginning in 1895, to build the 16-room estate later named Hearthstone Castle. The castle combines features from many architectural periods, mostly Norman.

Emma Sanford must not have cared for palatial country estates or faux Norman castles. In 1902 the Sanfords sold the castle to a rich New Yorker, Victor Buck.

Buck told Country Homes magazine he believed ‘there is no more healthful spot on earth in all seasons.’

Buck got a new next-door neighbor in 1910, when Tarrywile was purchased by Charles Darling Parks, president of the American Hatter and Furrier Co. Parks bought Buck’s castle in 1918 and gave it as a wedding present to his daughter, Irene Parks Jennings Rathmell.

Hearthstone Castle in 1985

Hearthstone Castle in 1985

She changed the name to Hearthstone Castle and lived in it until she died in 1982. She left it to her niece and nephew.

Danbury bought the castle, Tarrywile Mansion and the grounds to both in 1987. Efforts are now underway to preserve the castle.

Recently, an antiques magazine editor named Eric Bradley bought some of the contents of the Hearthstone Castle library at an auction in Connecticut. In a $5 lot of poetry books he discovered 114 Songs by Danbury native Charles Ives. It was signed by Ives’ sister-in-law. Bradley sold it for $1,000.

Both Hearthstone Castle and Tarrywile are on the National Register of Historic Places. It is now a park open to the public for hiking, camping and special events.

Learn more (and see some neat photos) at Connecticut Magazine’s recent story about Hearthstone Castle here.

With thanks to Fantastic Finds by Eric Bradley.


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