Connecticut Post (Sunday)
Gillette Castle is set to reopen May 27
A historic castle in Connecticut, commissioned to be the home of a playwright and actor known for the “Sherlock Holmes” series, will soon reopen its doors to the masses.
Gillette Castle will officially open to the public May 27, but the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park — a volunteer organization that works to preserve the property — will hold a soft opening on May 21, from 1 — 4 p.m. Guests will be able to explore the castle’s interior on self-guided tours with volunteers stationed throughout the castle to provide more information. Two members of the group Tyke Niver and Theodora Niver, will portray Gillette and his wife during the event.
Hartford native and actor William Gillette designed Gillette Castle, built from 1914 — 1919, as a place to retire, according to the Friends. Gillette wrote the first authorized play of “Sherlock Holmes” in 1899 and went on to star as the detective on stage more than 1,300 times.
Gillette Castle has been closed to the public since Labor Day weekend, but the park grounds and hiking trails remained open. The castle underwent a $480,000 restoration, administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, to make improvements to its outdoor terrace.
The terrace, which leads up to the castle and overlooks the Connecticut River, now has slate paving stones and permanent railings. The upgrades also include a new drainage system, which is aimed at preventing water damage.
“The terrace has new paving stones that are slate, that look much more authentic and real. From a maintenance perspective, the old surface was of keystone gravel and visitors would track the keystone into the castle. This will help keep the castle cleaner,” president of the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park Lynn Wilkinson said. “Nothing was done inside the castle ... If people go inside they will see the fascinating and quirky interior as Gillette
After the soft reopen, the castle will move into a regular schedule, with tours every day from May 27 — Sept. 4. After Sept. 4, the castle will open on weekends through Columbus Day and again from late November to Christmas, before it closes for the season. Tours will run every 15 minutes between 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. The outdoor area around the castle is always open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset.
Entry to the castle during the soft reopening will be free for members and will cost $5 for non-members. Entry will be limited to 15 guests touring the castle at a time.