Did you know that there’s a 1920s medieval-style castle on the coast in Gloucester, MA? And did you know that it was built by eccentric inventor John Hays Hammond Jr.? And that it is a museum you can tour? And did you know how AWESOME THIS IS?! Well, neither did I!
Hammond Castle Museum is going down as one of the coolest places I’ve been in MA. An awesome blend of bizarre and beautiful, it sits on the coast of the North Shore and seems to come out of nowhere along Hesperus Ave. The castle’s exterior alone is impressive — drawbridge, archways, gardens, gargoyles, and Hammond’s grave — and free to walk around. But the real awesomeness is inside the museum ($10 admission ain’t bad).
John Hammond was a weird dude, as was his wife Irene, for whom John had the castle built as a bridal present. The couple’s eclectic tastes and interests are reflected in every room of their former home. Some rooms are preserved as they were when the couple was still alive, while others are more “museum-esque,” with artifacts related to Hammond’s life and inventions. Even in the preserved rooms, it’s worth reading the informational cards placed around that point out strange and sometimes amusing details that are easily overlooked.
Some notable examples:
- In the circular Hammond Library (also called “the whisper room“), the ceiling is architected such that whispers can be heard from across the room.
- There’s a mostly-nude statue in the castle courtyard of Hammond himself, which he had made as a gift to his wife. Irene supposedly hated it, but John did not and displayed it proudly on the lawn.
- The pool in the courtyard is deep enough for diving from the above balcony. This was designed specifically so that Hammond could jump into it from above and to scare his guests into thinking he had fallen to his death. What a prankster!
- Some crazy seances and psychic experiments went down in the Great Hall. One involved putting a psychic in a Faraday Cage to block electric currents. The cage is no longer there in the hall, but there’s original scientific documents and photos from the experiment. Both he and Irene were interested in macabre and ghosty stuff.
It’s not surprising that the castle was featured on Ghost Hunters and — spoiler alert! — the place is supposedly super haunted! If I was a ghost, I’d totally hang out here. I’m not, and I’d still hang out here.