Written By: JEH
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Exploring castles is always exciting. Not only does it impress architecturally, but it also tells the story of a forgotten past by entering the realm of a fairy tale. However, not all castles are filled with fancy dresses and happy endings. Some are enveloped in tragedy and sometimes, madness.
Dundas Castle is undoubtedly an architectural marvel found in the sleepy town of Roscoe, New York. Also known as Craig-E-Clair Castle, it was closely modeled to the Dundas Castle in Scotland. However, the two castles tell different stories. For now, we are going to focus on the American Dundas Castle.
In the early 1880s, a farmer named Joseph Cammer opened lodging for his fellow fishermen. Among the regular visitors was an architect named Bradford Lee Gilbert, who was famous for designing Atlanta’s flatiron building. Appreciating the location of the lodging, Gilbert expressed his interest in building a summer log cabin for himself in the small section of Cammer’s land. After an agreement, the construction of Gilbert’s log cabin began.
Gilbert named his cabin Craig-E-Clair (translating to Beautiful Mountainside) after an Irish fishing village. Many people believe that Gilbert chose the name in honor of his wife, who was a native of Ireland.
Following Gilbert’s death in 1911, the land and house were put up for sale and bought by Maurice Sternbek. Four years later, Ralph Wurts-Dundas officially bought the property.
From Log Cabin to Castle
Dundas, a man of wealth, was a bit of a recluse with a fetish for the Gothic architecture of European castles. To solidify his grand delusion, Dundas purchased Craig-E-Clair to convert it into a Scottish-style stone castle. Surprisingly, Dundas did not destroy the log cabin. Instead, he built his castle around it and on top of it.
The construction of the castle began in the early years of the First World War. Inside, there are over 30 rooms, including an entrance vestibule, sitting room, dining room, and remarkable staircases. Some of the bathrooms have fine porcelain tiles, and grandiose fireplaces were constructed in some of the rooms. In the surrounding area, a bridge was built and imposing iron gates were erected.
Unfortunately, Dundas died in 1921 without seeing his castle completed.
The Finished Dundas Castle
A year after her husband’s passing, Josephine Wurts-Dundas was placed in West Hill Sanitarium. Their daughter, Muriel Harmer Wurts-Dundas, inherited the castle and a near 40 million dollar fortune which had passed to her mother. However, her inexperience in handling money was taken advantage of by the property’s caretakers. After the swindling, Muriel married and moved away to forget about the castle.
In an unexpected turn of events, Muriel herself was also placed in a sanitarium less than two decades after her mother. Then, she sold Dundas Castle to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Masonic Order in 1949 for $47,500.
The Abandoned Dundas Castle
After being sold, the Castle was planned to be turned into a home for the elderly. However, the plans fell through due to unknown reasons. Then, in 1950, the castle became a vacation resort. Years later, it became “Camp Eureka,” a summer retreat for inner-city youth. But at some point, Camp Eureka halted operations and the castle, once again, was abandoned.
In 2001, the Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places. However, the castle remained abandoned and heavily vandalized.
Is the Dundas Castle in New York Haunted?
There have been many legends about the abandoned Dundas castle. Those who were able to visit the site claim that the ghost of Josephine Dundas continues to haunt the castle. There are also reported sightings of Ralph Dundas, wandering the castle in a never-ending loop of sadness. Another story claims that there are three heart-shaped ponds outside the castle that fill with blood during a full moon.
If you wish to visit the castle and experience the alleged hauntings yourself, make sure to ask for permission from the new owner.
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