Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! One of the places I floated over was Hammond Castle in the Magnolia section of Gloucester.
It was built by John Hays Hammond in 1926 to serve both as his home and as a backdrop for his collection of Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance artifacts. The castle was constructed as a wedding present for his wife Irene Fenton Hammond to prove how much he cared for her. In addition, the building housed the Hammond Research Corporation, from which Dr. Hammond produced over 400 patents and the ideas for over 800 inventions. Second, only to Thomas Alva Edison in the number of patents, John Hammond was one of America’s premier inventors. Edison and Bell had become personal friends and mentors to him. His most important work was the development of remote control via radio waves, which earned him the title, “The Father of Remote Control.” The truth of the matter, it was one of many inventions Nikola Tesla who met his father through Mark Twain gave him which he was not going to pursue. He used to sail a ghost boat in the harbor by remote control scaring the natives. He also was the inventor of the guided missile.
Traveling troops of actors who were putting plays on in Boston frequented here throughout the 20’s and 30’s. His wife was also popular in the spiritualist circuit. I think that is with the people who believed ghosts of your dead relatives could raise your table and make gunk foam out of your mouth? The castle is still fun during Halloween. There is this acting troop who will scare you or pretend to be Robin Hood and his Merry Men or the Knights of the Round Table at various fairs throughout the year. There is even a psychic fair held there once a year.
It is haunted. It is said that Hammond has frequently returned after his death as a black cat. During his life, someone stole his dogs, but he loved his cats even more. So he built them an outdoor pen and placed broken glass cemented into the top of the wall keep out cat burglars… I know that was bad. As a black cat, he would always go to his favorite chair and sit.
He sure did love his cats. Whenever one of his beloved cats passed away, he would place the cat in a jar of formaldehyde and drive from his castle all throughout Gloucester in a one-car funeral procession, tying up traffic along the way. Hammond was buried on the property, with three of his Siamese cats, still preserved in jars, in a mausoleum on a nearby section of land but his body was removed in 2008 and reburied in the outdoor courtyard of the castle after several vandals broke into the mausoleum in the 1980s and stole the cats. People are strange, but it is cool to sit on top of his mausoleum built into the side of the red rock cliff overlooking the ocean. It has some great rock jumping there. Almost as good as Rafe’s Chasm. Which is not far away.
Hammond also added some unique features to the structure such as an indoor pool that can be drained with a flip of a switch and filled with sea water, rooms with hidden doors, secret passageways, a library with a whispering ceiling and an inner courtyard that was once outfitted with special overhead pipes and wiring to simulate rain or twinkling stars. It could have been the inspiration for Hogwarts Grand Hall with the stars on the ceiling (I read the book first…) Another feature of the castle is Hammond’s large pipe organ that his friend, famed organist Virgil Fox, used to play during visits. Fox held many recording sessions at the castle in the 40s and 50s.
Next to the Castle is a wizard tower he had built for his father. The Moonies own it now. I still want to sneak in there…
It truly is a really cool place! Even better when you can float over it.