When in Ireland…
My 4-year old is really getting into these adventures. He was thrilled we were headed to a castle this afternoon. I had grandiose ideas about how the day would play: I pictured driving to a castle, throwing out a blanket and having an afternoon snack with the boys–a tea party on the grounds of a castle. How cool is that! Nope. It rained buckets again, the kids were fussy, we started late… ARGH!!But we did go to a castle.
Beardslee Castle is about 30 minutes east of Utica on Rt. 5. The original owners—Ethel and Guy Beardslee—modeled their 1860 home after Irish castles. With its history, we’re fortunate to still have it. It caught fire twice, first in 1919 and again in 1989. After the 1919 fire, the Beardslees rebuilt the main floor and divided their time between the castle and their home in Florida. The couple had no children, so after their deaths (Guy-1937, Ethel-1941), the castle changed several hands for the next half century.
The present owners found the castle in grave disrepair. Owner Lynn Brown said that when she walked into the castle with her dad, she knew she had to be a part of the home’s history. The home had been sitting in leaking water for three years at that point, and it took the new owners 18 months of cleaning and restoration to reclaim its grandeur.
The castle was built from the area’s fieldstone, and at two feet thick, it’s no surprise that the walls survived both fires. The present owners uncovered and restored beautiful parquet floors, which had been carpeted for decades. They reclaimed the coffered, wood ceilings and scrubbed a century of dirt, grime and soot from the stone walls. I was able to speak with Ms. Brown for a few moments, and she graciously welcomed me to stay as long as I wanted and to snap as many photos as I needed. I could have chatted with her for hours about the restoration project and the castle’s history. Even to my untrained eye, it’s apparent that the Browns went to great measures to ensure a proper restoration.
Rumors that the castle is haunted have circulated for years, but the owner pretty much shrugged that off as fun folklore. I found it curious that Little Man (my 23-month old) had no desire to go inside, even though it was soppy wet outside. He blocked the front doorway, covered his ears and said, “Ouuut!” Maybe he just loves being in the rain. I didn’t feel anything unusual, but when my 4-year old overheard the conversation about haunts, he wanted to bolt. I want to go back.
Beardslee Castle has been a fine dining facility for 21 years. The owners feature local, seasonal fare—strawberry chicken, local beets, cheeses from Poland, NY… They change their menu daily and buy from local farms. I like that! It’s been awhile since I dined there, but I can report that the food was excellent and the service gave me that fine-dining feeling–such a treat.
If you’ve never been to Beardslee Castle, it’s worth the drive. I want to go back for dinner, but I also want to toss a blanket and sit amidst the garden on a warm, dry, summer day. An Irish castle in Central New York? Makes perfect sense to me. 😉