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KINNELON CASTLE

Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box --Italian Proverb

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle (Untermeyer Mansion), Kinnelon, New Jersey

+Roadtrip::North Jersey+

[Kinnelon Castle]   [Split Rock Road]   [Dover Mental Cage]   [Satanic Church]   [Tomb of 12 Nuns]

explored & photographed by: Shady

Perched high atop a thickly-wooded hill overlooking Untermeyer Lake, the crumbling provincial ruin known as the Kinnelon Castle (aka The Gate) is a weird New Jersey legend.

After driving about an hour and a half to reach Kinnelon, we found the Castle almost effortlessly (my sources had given excellent directions). We parked down at the bottom of the steep hill, amidst a bevy of construction vehicles and "Under Development" signs. We had to wonder- we were about to visit a doomed landmark?

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

We began the taxing climb up the rough terrain; it wasn't easy. The foliage was thick (I got a nice red mark on my cheek from being whipped in the face by a stray branch- owww), the incline was steep, and the loose, rocky soil made our footing very precarious. We were all completely out of breath halfway up the hill, but it was all worth it as we began to see the turret-like structures and half-hidden staircases peeking out from the brush above. It was breathtaking to see this huge mansion rising out of the forest like an ancient, forgotten castle.

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

As soon as we crested the hill, everyone scattered. I headed right for the staircases (too tempting to pass up- we just couldn't wait to climb those!) and the "interior" of the Castle. It was strange being inside the place; such an odd feeling- being surrounded by walls and doorways covered with vines and exploring rooms with mossy carpeting and a bright blue sky for a roof. According to sources, a wealthy New York stockbroker named Milton Untermeyer had this place constructed in 1920. He spared no expense, having the finest European cut stone hauled up the hill to create an ornate, French Provincial style manor (a popular Revival style in the 1920's- click here for an example of what it might have looked like)

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

The house once boasted many elaborate architectural details, including seven gables, numerous balconies and fireplaces, and an unknown number of beautiful staircases. I headed up to the second level of the Castle to check out some of the architecture. We found a room with a collapsed roof and a checkered-tile floor; because of the type of flooring (often used in rooms that held plant life) and the evidence of  glass walls, I am gonna guess that this was probably some kind of conservatory or sun room. In one wall, an arch opened up into the Castle interior, where a huge fireplace could be seen across the empty space where the upper flooring used to be. I would have loved to see the whole layout of these upper floors when the mansion was intact- it must have been gorgeous!!

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

The Untermeyer Mansion was later purchased by Theodore Bender (a Paterson physician), then passed on to a Montclair family by the name of Gilbreth. Their plans to use the area for a winter resort were never to be realized, as a fire in 1968 all but destroyed the once-splendid abode, leaving behind the shell that exists today. We all spent close to an hour exploring the Castle grounds; we found another structure up the hill that had completely collapsed, a treacherous open hole in the earth that led to an underground chamber holding some sort of mechanical device, and another stone building which had no apparent entrance that we could find.

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

Kinnelon Castle

Untermeyer Lake

As we descended one of the many staircases on our way out, we paused to take one last look back at the vine-smothered chimneys, the leafy stone walls, and the awesome view of forlornly beautiful Untermeyer Lake. In single file we climbed back down the hill, leaving the lonely Castle buried beneath the ever-creeping limbs of the fruit trees, dogwoods, beeches, ferns, and other hungry foliage that is slowly and inexorably swallowing it whole.

At the bottom of the hill, the winded Scoobs piled back into the Shady Lady and hit the road again, ready and eager to find our next lost destination...

<---BACK TO THE BEGINNING           NEXT STOP- SPLIT ROCK ROAD--->

 

U P D A T E    2 0 0 3

WOW- seems that someone might be restoring the Castle! Our Virtual Scoob Jim sent us the following photos of Kinnelon Castle, which seem to show it in the process of being cleaned up. I had originally thought that the construction in the area spelled it's doom, as most of these places are usually just torn down. Yet, why clean the place up if it's going to be demolished? It will be interesting to see what happens...

Kinnelon Castle, New Jersey

Kinnelon Castle, New Jersey

Kinnelon Castle, New Jersey

Kinnelon Castle, New Jersey

Jim tells us, "Hiya,Was checking out your roadtrips and noticed you guys went to the Untermeyer Castle.Just thought you would be interested......Your guess about the construction is right on. Interestingly enough, I was there today and drove right up to it. Someone has been clearing the foliage away from it. It's still not visible from the road, but there is a paved road running halfway up the hillwhich then becomes the dirt road up to the castle. Needless to say, it looks rather different when its not overgrown..... No tresspasing signs abound. I was actually hoping to run into someone up there to tell me what was going to happen but no such luck. Anyway, hope you find the pics interesting. Happy Hunting!"

Special thanx goes out to Jim for sending us this update & the wonderful pix... THANK YOU!!!

 

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