Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Castle

There is a castle tucked in a corner of Washington Park near the lake. I can still remember my first sight of it, too, late on a November evening.

While I grew up very close to the park and spend many afternoons on its playground, I rarely ventured west of the lake's pretty iron bridge and had never seen this castle before. In the cold November twilight, it looked fascinatingly a local pied-a-terre for Count Dracula.

Designed by Ernest Hoffman (who also designed the former firehouse which is now home to the Steamer 10 Theatre where Madison and Western Avenues meet) in the early 1890s, the house of granite was built for an inventor named Charles La Dow. Unfortunately, tragedy struck La Dow's family not too long after they moved into the Thurlow Terrace "castle." His son died of asphyxiation, possibly from a problem gas fixture in his bedroom. Less than ten years after the house was finished, La Dow himself died suddenly on Central Avenue. The house was acquired by the Hunt family in 1910.

The castle has a ghost, too, though I've yet to read the details. A recent article in the Times Union referred to the haunting in the upper tower as having been verified by a local spiritualist. I don't doubt that the place has a ghost or two.

The building housed a law firm in recent years, but currently stands empty. And it's for sale. Despite tragedy in its early history, I love the place with its hidden passages, imposing stone, and gorgeous woodwork inside. But the price is just a bit too high for me!