Museums & Galleries, Gloucester

Visit the Hammond Castle Museum and see what ‘a man’s house is his castle’ really means

TOWN:Gloucester
WHAT:A man of the future builds a castle where he lives in the past
WHY:A unique residence in a striking location, there's nothing like it anywhere this side of the Atlantic

Hammond Castle Museum is one of two weird and wonderful houses on Boston’s North Shore. Built on a seaside lot in Gloucester in the early twentieth century, it was the brainchild of a prosperous and eccentric New Englander, John Hammond, Jr. 

He spent his early childhood in England, fascinated by the medieval castles that dot the landscape there. We all have childhood dreams. For most of us life has a way of putting them in the rearview mirror, but not for Hammond. After graduating from Yale, he was taken under the wing of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. Recognizing a fellow restless genius, they encouraged his pursuit of inventive ideas. The result? 400 inventions, the most successful of which were – and are still – applied to airplanes, radio and defense. 

With uncommon wealth, Hammond was at liberty to build his very own castle on the shores of Gloucester, putting to good use his collection of architectural features and artifacts culled from European antiquity. He collaborated closely with a prominent architect to capture his vision. 

Hammond Castle is now a museum, open to the public. Exploring its nooks and crannies has delighted visitors for years. From the great hall featuring one of the worlds great pipe organs at 8400 pipes, to the dining room where visitors can imagine sitting next to past guests Noel Coward or John D. Rockefeller – or perhaps even King Arthur – it’s easy to drift back in time. The round, paneled library invites visitors to imagine sitting next to the fire while an Atlantic storm sweeps the coast outside. The glass-roofed courtyard features stone carvings going back to the second century, and the central pool serves as a peaceful centerpiece. Winding stairways lead to a period kitchen downstairs and several bedrooms upstairs. Don’t miss the guest room with wall-papered doors which hid their locations to unsuspecting visitors. 

After touring the castle and the gift shop, step outside to enjoy sweeping ocean views. You’ll find several photo-friendly spots for a memorable photo of your visit.

Please note that Hammond Castle Museum is a very popular tourist destination, especially on weekends in the summer. Tickets should be purchased in advance and are available for both guided and self-guided tours.

FUN FACT: Hammond enjoyed occasionally entering a guest bedroom in the middle of the night, sitting quietly until a startled visitor woke to notice him, while he calmly asked a question or two. 

Hammond Castle Museum
80 Hesperus Ave.
Gloucester, MA
Tel: 978-283-2080

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