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The Loping Journalist: A Castle in Freeport

Thursday, November 13, 2014

 There was plenty to look at while I wandered about South Freeport Village and wondered about the castle poking out of the forest. This tall narrow house belongs to an architect. He must really like stairs. There's a natural branch supporting the corner of the porch on the top floor. Cool house. It must have killer views on the bay side.

You don't just see something like this sticking up out of the woods and think it doesn't have a story with it. 

Susan told me the story. And then she sent me to the post office to see the photos. 

Seems one Amos Gerald of Fairfield, Maine, was in the electric trolley business. He wanted to connect the little shipbuilding village of South Freeport with nearby Brunswick, a distance of about eight miles. But he wanted to give people a reason to go to South Freeport Village. So in 1904 he built a 100-room hotel and a castle! And an amusement park!

This is what once stood on that promontory. Amazing. 

There was a 300' footbridge over a gorge that people had to cross to get from the trolley stop to the castle. You know, to spice up the experience. The castle was made of native stone, but the hotel was sided in gray wood that was meant to look like stone. 

There seems to have been at least one bison. A kindly gent, by appearances. I wouldn't want a fence that insubstantial between me and an unkindly bison. Because he could bring that down with a thought. That's like trying to fence a Sherman tank with chicken wire.

Other occupants of the little zoo were monkeys, a wolf and a coyote, and strolling peacocks. Angus cattle were a rare sight, so they were on display, too. 

I like how I caught the reflection of a woman in the post office in the bison shot. 
I was diggin' the scene there, three women wearing cardigans just yakking away. 

I told them right away I was from Ohio so they wouldn't have to wonder.

Mr. Gerald never really got to see success with his Casco Castle and Hotel and Amusement Park. Only ten years later, on a September day in 1914, the wooden structure burned to the ground, leaving only this tower. What a shame!

Hm. It's been a hundred years since Casco Castle burned. There was suspicion of arson, because it burned as the last guest packed up and left.

Maybe it was more than South Freeport Village ever wanted. It was packed in the summers, but apparently it wasn't quite a big enough attraction to draw sufficient occupants most of the year.

I walked out of the post office and met the pastor of this beautiful church. He saw me photographing the weathervane, which is magnificent.

Sperm whale weathervanes are rare where I come from. It's very old. As is the church. He told me some part of it is always in need of painting.
And the weathervane blows down every few years and they refurbish it and put it back up.

We had a nice chat, and I trotted off to shoot some sugar maples and sweet cottages.

Autumn was a bit of a bust in Ohio this year, so I was very happy to find Brunswick and Freeport ablaze.

I had a nice glass of water with Susan and then turned back toward Cove Road. She gets the Wall St. Journal and said she would look for my book reviews in the paper from now on.

It was a wonderful morning. I met so many people, and they were all so welcoming, I could feel what it would be like to move there. Everyone seemed to like it very much. I did too. 

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When I saw the title of the entry and knew you were going to finally tell us the story behind the castle tower, I rubbed my hands together with glee and may have even cackled. You really know how to leave us hanging for the sequel, Julie! It's a rather wistful story, and it's a shame that the tower isn't used for something now.

What a wonderful set of experiences and people. I especially love it when I encounter something I never expected when I planned a trip. Thanks for sharing.

Hi Julie:

We've got a sperm whale weather vane a top the Island Queen, a Victorian mansion in Island Heights, NJ. It weathered Hurricane Sandy without a hitch, despite a fifteen foot high storm surge. On one visit, a mockingbird had installed himself on the compass arrows beneath the whale and was singing away, providing the illusion that the whale was mimicking birds! I'll send you some pics.

Great story as always!

That last photo looks like the burning bush right next to my porch. SO beautiful this time of year!

Nice lopes!

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