the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box --Italian Proverb
(Untermeyer Mansion), Kinnelon,
[Kinnelon Castle] [Split Rock Road]
[Dover Mental Cage] [Satanic
Church] [Tomb of 12 Nuns]
explored & photographed by:
Perched high atop a thickly-wooded hill
overlooking Untermeyer Lake, the crumbling provincial ruin known as the Kinnelon Castle
(aka The Gate) is a weird New Jersey legend.
After driving about an hour and a half to reach Kinnelon, we
found the Castle almost effortlessly (my sources had given excellent directions).
We parked down at the bottom of the steep hill, amidst a bevy of construction vehicles and
"Under Development" signs. We had to wonder- we were about to visit a doomed
We began the taxing climb up the
rough terrain; it wasn't easy. The foliage was thick (I got a nice red mark on my cheek
from being whipped in the face by a stray branch- owww), the incline was steep,
and the loose, rocky soil made our footing very precarious. We were all
completely out of breath halfway up the hill, but it was all worth it as we began to see
the turret-like structures and half-hidden staircases peeking out from the brush above. It
was breathtaking to see this huge mansion rising out of the forest like an ancient,
As soon as we
crested the hill, everyone scattered. I headed right for the staircases
(too tempting to pass up- we just couldn't wait to climb those!) and the
"interior" of the Castle. It was strange being inside the place; such an
odd feeling- being surrounded by walls and doorways covered with vines and exploring rooms
with mossy carpeting and a bright blue sky for a roof. According to sources, a wealthy New
York stockbroker named Milton Untermeyer had this place constructed in 1920. He spared no
expense, having the finest European cut stone hauled up the hill to create an ornate,
French Provincial style manor (a popular Revival style in the 1920's- click here for
an example of what it might have looked like)
The house once boasted many
elaborate architectural details, including seven gables, numerous balconies and
fireplaces, and an unknown number of beautiful staircases. I headed up to the
second level of the Castle to check out some of the architecture. We found a room with a
collapsed roof and a checkered-tile floor; because of the type of flooring (often used in
rooms that held plant life) and the evidence of glass walls, I am gonna guess that
this was probably some kind of conservatory or sun room. In one wall, an arch opened up
into the Castle interior, where a huge fireplace could be seen across the empty space
where the upper flooring used to be. I would have loved to see the whole layout of these
upper floors when the mansion was intact- it must have been gorgeous!!
The Untermeyer Mansion was later
purchased by Theodore Bender (a Paterson physician), then passed on to a Montclair family
by the name of Gilbreth. Their plans to use the area for a winter resort were never to be
realized, as a fire in 1968 all but destroyed the once-splendid
abode, leaving behind the shell that exists today. We all spent close to an hour exploring
the Castle grounds; we found another structure up the hill that had completely collapsed,
a treacherous open hole in the earth that led to an underground chamber holding some sort
of mechanical device, and another stone building which had no apparent entrance that we
descended one of the many staircases on our way out, we paused to take one last look back
at the vine-smothered chimneys, the leafy stone walls, and the awesome view of forlornly
beautiful Untermeyer Lake. In single file we climbed back down the hill, leaving the
lonely Castle buried beneath the ever-creeping limbs of the fruit trees, dogwoods,
beeches, ferns, and other hungry foliage that is slowly and
inexorably swallowing it whole.
At the bottom of the hill, the winded Scoobs piled back into the
Shady Lady and hit the road again, ready and eager to find our next lost destination...
<---BACK TO THE BEGINNING
STOP- SPLIT ROCK ROAD--->
U P D A T E
2 0 0 3
WOW- seems that someone might be
restoring the Castle! Our Virtual Scoob Jim sent us the following photos of Kinnelon
Castle, which seem to show it in the process of being cleaned up. I had originally thought
that the construction in the area spelled it's doom, as most of these places are usually
just torn down. Yet, why clean the place up if it's going to be demolished? It will be
interesting to see what happens...
Jim tells us, "Hiya,Was
checking out your roadtrips and noticed you guys went to the Untermeyer Castle.Just
thought you would be interested......Your guess about the construction is right on.
Interestingly enough, I was there today and drove right up to it. Someone has been
clearing the foliage away from it. It's still not visible from the road, but there is a
paved road running halfway up the hillwhich then becomes the dirt road up to the castle.
Needless to say, it looks rather different when its not overgrown..... No tresspasing
signs abound. I was actually hoping to run into someone up there to tell me what was going
to happen but no such luck. Anyway, hope you find the pics interesting. Happy
Special thanx goes out to Jim for sending us this update
& the wonderful pix... THANK YOU!!!
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