This week at work had me traveling all through Vermont and parts of Massachusetts. I had only previously been to Vermont to visit the Ben and Jerry’s Factory five years ago, and it was so beautiful that I’d been wanting to get back for some time now.
I visited Green Mountain College and the University of Vermont, which are about a three hour drive apart. My GPS took me on long stretches of back roads, so I was able to see a lot of Vermont’s autumn scenery!
I thought I’d look for some funky, local attractions to break up the long drive. I always look at the pamphlets on display at hotels for ideas (pamphlets are like crack to me – I can’t not take some with me!). I found one advertising for Wilson Castle, and figured I’d give it a try since it was only a few minutes off my route.
This place was fascinating, and really needs more advertisement. I got the impression that not too many people know it exists, even the locals. Sadly, the house is beginning to fall apart a bit – it’s in desperate need of a facelift.
When I went, they were beginning to get ready for their Haunted Castle Tours. The house was decorated from top to bottom, with fun and creepy skeletons and festive pieces all over.
There seriously had to be more than 100 skeletons. One of the workers said that the decorations were from his private collection, which instantly made me like him. The tour guide even talked about some of the spooky unexplainable things that have happened in the house!
The house itself is a bit of a mystery. Not much is known about the original owners, who began building the house in 1867. The house was designed and owned by Dr. and Lady Johnson (first names aren’t known, which only adds to the spookiness of the season!).
Apparently, the Dr. married Lady Johnson (who was from England) more for her money than for love. When he brought her to his home in Vermont after they married, she apparently asked him, “Is this where the servants live?” – that had to be great for his ego…. So, to make her feel more at home, he had the castle built for her.
It cost $1.3 million (in 1867 money, which was A LOT), and had all of the brick, marble, glass, and furniture imported from all over Europe. These people were not messing around! The inside of the home resembles an English castle. The dark wood, stone fireplaces, draperies, and especially the huge stained glass window of a royal knight, made me feel like I was back in England!
Dr. and Lady Johnson only lived in the castle for 7 years, and then went through multiple owners before finally being bought in 1939 for only $12,000.
The home was bought by Herbert Wilson, creator of the AM radio. He ended up turning the home into a museum back in the 1960s, while he and his family still lived there. The home has some amazing objects inside, such as Queen Mary’s own tea set, a chair given to the home by the Pope, and a 1,000 year old Chinese painting, just to name a few.
One of the coolest things about the home was the porch swing. It was designed to swing level, so that ladies could use it without their ankles showing – which would have been a huge scandal!
From the porch, you can see the old horse stables, which have now been converted into apartments.