Inspired by the grandeur of Old World castles, American royalty — for the most part, self-made captains of industry — built monuments to their success a century ago, complete with drawbridges, secret passageways and turrets. Pull up by yacht and explore seven of these castles from the Thousand Islands to Honolulu.
1. Hammond Castle
Hammond Castle was built between 1926 and 1929 by Dr John Hay Hammond Jr. to act as a home for both himself and his collection of historical pieces. It was a wedding gift for his wife, Irene Fenton Hammond, but also housed the Hammond Research Corporation. Hammond was one of America’s most prolific inventors and produced more than 800 patents for different inventions — exceeding any other practitioner other than Thomas Edison, who was a lifelong friend of Hammond.
Sometimes known as “the father of remote control”, he invented a number of radio-guided vessels and vehicles as well as some of the earliest forms of FM broadcasting. Nowadays, his castle is used solely as a museum, which features Hammond’s extensive collection of Roman, medieval and Renaissance artefacts.
The castle took three years to build, cost approximately $500,000 and is a nod to Hammond’s eccentric nature and wild imagination. Outside the design is extremely gothic, featuring stone gargoyles, a number of gravestones acquired from Europe and a drawbridge main entrance to the castle.
The drawbridge leads into the Great Hall, which was designed to look like a 13th century French cathedral and acted as a main living area for Hammond and his guests. It also hosted a vast pipe organ that stretches up eight storeys. Hammond exhibited his sense of humour in the guest bedrooms by creating ‘vashining doors’ — they are covered in matching wallpaper to the rest of the room and have no handles, causing visitors confusion when trying to leave their room.
One of the most impressive feats of Hammond’s design is the indoor courtyard, which has a deep swimming pool that has a specific flooring design to create the illusion of a shallow end that moves location depending on where you stand. Additionally, this room had a system installed overhead that allowed Hammond to create sunshine on a cloudy day or moonlight on a dark night. The courtyard also features long pipes across the glass ceiling which produced rainfall.
Don’t miss: In the Great Hall lies one of Hammond’s most prized artefacts, a skull that is believed to have belonged to one of Christopher Columbus' crewmen.
How to visit on a superyacht: Anyone discovering New England by superyacht should head to the Boston Yacht Haven Marina where vessels up to 92 metres can moor in one of 15 berths, then take a private car to Hammond Castle.