DEEP: Gillette Castle State Park
Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection
DEEP: Gillette Castle State Park


CT State Parks and Forests Main Page

Park Location and Contact Information
Gillette Castle State Park
67 River Road
East Haddam, CT 06423
(860) 526-2336

 

 
{Symbol for Handicapped Accessibility}
ACCESSIBILITY
This park offers:
{Symbol for Handicapped Accessibility} Bathrooms
{Symbol for Handicapped Accessibility} Castle First Floor
{Symbol for Handicapped Accessibility} Parking
{Symbol for Handicapped Accessibility} Picnic Tables

HOURS:
The park is open from 8 am to sunset. The gate at Gillette Castle State Park is open at 8:00 am, and closes at sunset year round.

PETS:

Pets on a leash are permitted in picnic areas and on hiking trails.  Pets are not allowed inside buildings or on decks.


STATE PARKS CONTACT INFORMATION:
Email:
 
Telephone:
(860) 424-3200
(866) 287-2757
(Toll Free in CT)
Fax:
(860) 424-4070

{Interior View of Gillette Castle} Gillette Castle State Park
East Haddam
It looks like a medieval fortress, but a step inside the stone castle reveals the built-in couches, table trackway, and woodcarvings that all point to the creative genius that was William Gillette.
PLEASE NOTE: For those using the Haddam/East Haddam swing bridge to Gillette Castle, Route 82 east of the bridge will be closed due to construction. There is a detour onto Route 151 to Route 149. Ray Hill Road will be limited to only local traffic.
 
Activities Facilities Geology Directions Map Overview
Activities
{Hiking} Hiking {Picnicking} Picnicking
{Historic Building Tours} Historic Building {Camping} River Camping
The Castle
 

The Castle is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Tickets are sold until 4:30 PM, Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day. Staff are available to assist with questions about the Castle interior and its history. The grounds are open year round.

Bus Groups

Groups arriving by bus will need to make reservations at least two weeks in advance by calling Gillette Castle State Park at (860) 526-2336.  Two buses per day can be accomodated.

Art Trail Site
Gillette Castle is a Viewpoint Exhibit Host Site
Did you ever wonder what the Connecticut landscape looked like a century ago?  Check out “Viewpoints”, a joint project of the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the Connecticut Impressionist Art Trail, and the Department of Environmental Protection.  Outdoor exhibits reproduce works of art painted in the 19th Century, with information about the artist and the location.  Visit the Impressionist Art Trail Website for a preview, and look for the Viewpoint exhibits on your next visit to the Chester-Hadlyme ferry landing area of Gillette Castle State Park and other host sites.
Camping
Three public camps along the Connecticut River at Hurd, Gillette Castle and Selden Neck State Parks are managed by the Department of Environmental Protection for your enjoyment. The campsites are available from May 1 through September 30 for overnight stops by those traveling on the river.
More Information
Facilities
Picnic Shelter, Visitor Center, Food Concessions (During the off season, the food concessions is only available on weekends and Holidays.) 
{Gillette Castle}
Gillette Castle State Park, East Haddam
Geology
The Geology of Gillette Castle State Park
Directions
From I-91S:  take Exit 22.  Route 9S, Exit 7, for a bridge crossing of the Connecticut River.  Follow route 82E and park signs.
From I-95N or S:  take Exit 69.  Route 9N to Exit 6 or 7.  For the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, use Exit 6.  Follow Route 148 and park signs. The ferry operates spring through fall.
Ferry Information
Fees
 
There are no fees for parking or visiting the park grounds.  A per person charge applies for Castle tours.
The gate at Gillette Castle State Park is open at 8:00 am, and closes at sunset year round.
More Information
Heritage Passport
Heritage Passport allows a family (2 adults and up to 4 children) unlimited admittance to three facilities - Dinosaur, Fort Trumbull and Gillette Castle State Parks.  The Heritage Passport costs $67.00 and can be purchased at any one of the three facilities.
Map
Hiking Map

Overview
Atop the most southerly hill in a chain known as the Seven Sisters, William Hooker Gillette, noted actor, director, and playwright, built this one hundred and eighty-four acre estate, the Seventh Sister. The focal point of his effort was a twenty four room mansion reminiscent of a medieval castle.
Purchased by the State of Connecticut in 1943 from the executors of Mr. Gillette's will, Gillette Castle and the adjoining property with its fine woodlands, trails, and vistas are now administered for the enjoyment of present and future generations. This apparently would have pleased Gillette, since his will gave specific directions to see that the property did not fall into the hands "of some blithering saphead who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded." This statement also points out the value Gillette placed upon his estate and the apprehension he felt about its disposition.
Gillette designed the castle and most of its contents personally, periodically checking every phase of their construction. Built of local fieldstone supported by a steel framework, it took twenty men five years (1914-1919), to complete the main structure. Gillette began his semi-retirement in his new home; and in the following years, he supervised the many thousands of refinements created by local craftsmen.
{Gillette Castle} The woodwork within the castle is hand-hewn southern white oak. Of the forty-seven doors within the structure, there are no two exactly the same. And each door has a handsome external latch intricately carved of wood. Even the Castle's furnishings are indications of Gillette's inspirations. The built-in couches, a movable table on tracks, and light switches of carved wood all point to his creative genius.
Outside on the grounds, Gillette's influence is no less in evidence. The trails often follow, over trestle and through tunnel, the actor's three mile long narrow gauge railroad. Gillette's own walking paths were constructed with near-vertical steps, stone-arch bridges, and wooded trestles spanning up to forty feet. Other outdoor attractions include a vegetable cellar, the railroad station (Grand Central), and Gillette's goldfish pond.
Gillette was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1853, the son of former U.S. Senator Francis Gillette and his wife Elizabeth Daggett Hooker Gillette, a descendent of Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford. As a child, Gillette was captivated with the stage and acting pursuits, an interest that his parents did not encourage. At age thirteen, he reputedly had built a small stage and amused himself by frequently giving puppet shows for his friends. At age twenty, he left home to follow his chosen career; but success was slow in developing. He attended classes at numerous colleges including Trinity, Yale, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and College of the City of New York, but never received a degree. His first recognition as an actor was attained when the lead became ill in "Broken Hearts" at the Globe Theater in Boston, and Gillette's stand-in performance was well received. This led to other and better roles for Gillette. He is most famous for his portrayal of "Sherlock Holmes". Besides his activities as an actor and playwright, Gillette is known to have written two novels, invented many trick stage props and lighting techniques, and often produced and directed the plays in which he appeared. After his semi-retirement in 1910, Gillette was welcomed by theatergoers countless times during his four revival tours. His last performance was at the Bushnell in Hartford in 1936, the year before his death.

Other Nearby State Recreation Areas Include:
Devil's Hopyard State Park, East Haddam
Location: 3 miles north of the intersection of Route 82 and Route 156
Activities:  Camping, Hiking, Picnicking, Stream Fishing
Charge: None for picnic area, Campsite fee
{Balcony inside Gillette Castle}
Gillette Castle State Park
Haddam Meadows State Park, Haddam 
Location: 3 miles south of Higganum off Route 154
Activities: Boating, Fishing
Charge: None
Hurd State Park, East Hampton 
Location: 3 miles south of Cobalt center on Route 151
Activities: Fishing, Hiking
Charge:  None

Related Links
Connecticut Tourism Information
Friends of Gillette Castle State Park
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