You don’t have to cross the Atlantic to find a fifteenth century styled castle; there’s one right here on the North Shore. Each room of the Hammond Castle Museum is like a journey through time. From the draw bridge to the laboratory, Hammond castle is an awe-inspiring piece of history.
The construction of Hammond Castle started in 1926 and was completed in 1929, though it likely does not look like any other structure built that year. It was built by an eccentric, American inventor named John Hayes Hammond Jr. Hammond was mentored at a young age by Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. He was inspired by their work and he went on to be known as the “Father of Radio Control.” Most of the remote-control technology used today, including modern missile guiding systems, can be contributed to Hammond. He has been credited for about 800 different patents on over 400 inventions. Though most of his inventions were for practical use, there were others that were invented simply for Hammond’s own personal pleasure. Hammond’s pride and joy was an oversized, experimental organ that he installed into the Great Hall of his home. Hammond was also very passionate about travel. His castle, which he had built as a gift for his wife, was inspired by his many travels through Europe. Visitors to the castle are amazed by the collection of historical pieces that he amassed along the way.
Hammond Castle did not just serve as his home. It was a place to display his great collection of Roman, Medieval and Renaissance artifacts and it was also his laboratory. From outside, the castle looks like a medieval artifact even though it is not even a hundred years old. One of the first things that visitors to the castle get to experience is the great hall. The hall, filled with suits of armor and religious relics, was used by Hammond mainly to entertain guests. From there, visitors are led into the indoor courtyard that looks like the outside of a medieval village complete with trees, a “weather control” system, and a pool. Visitors may also explore the war room, the library and Hammond’s personal laboratory. One of the best parts of Hammond Castle is the view. The castle was built on a cliff overlooking Gloucester harbor and the Atlantic coast.
Hammond was a lover of history. To him the best way to appreciate history was to feel like you are being immersed into it. He once said, “you can visit a hundred museums containing their handiwork, but nothing can reincarnate their spirit except to walk through rooms in which they have lived and through the scenes that were the background of their lives.” Come explore the background of Hammond’s life. Visit the Hammond Castle Museum for a guided or self-guided tour.
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Located in the Magnolia area of Gloucester, the Castle is on Hesperus Ave, right off of Route 127.
Article and photos by Joe Codrington