CONGDON CASTLE

I received E-Mail that said in part:

In regards to the Castle at Yakima Washington called Congdon's castle It does exist, however it is not open to the public and as far back as I can remember it has not been. It is located a little distance from the road and is surrounded by fruit orchards. The entrance is gated and marked private. Also, as far as I know there are no pictures available. In the winter when the trees are bare you can glimpse the upper portion of the building. Also, from the South side you could probably see more with a high powered scope, never tried that though. I have lived in the Yakima valley all my life and have always wanted to see this place but so far no luck.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

Yes! It is a castle, made of black stones; by far the most beautiful place within 300 miles during the fall. My friends and I used to go there, and take a peek occasionally. We had to watch out for the dogs, et cetera, however.

The University of Washington "Special Collections" library section has an enormous photo archive. There are many old post-cards and photographs of Yakima, including a few good ones of the castle, which had apparently not changed much at all over the 50 or so year period intervening between when I saw it and when the photo was taken.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I also have lived here all my life and have been intrigued by the castle, The Congdon family is very secluded, no one even knows when they visit the castle. It was supposedly shipped stone by stone from Europe in the early 1900s. The castle is on Nob Hill Blvd. about the 6000 block or so.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

When I was about four, I went on a trolley ride past Congdon's Castle. The Trolley Tracks run along the South Side of the Castle - or at least they use to. That must have been right at 20 years ago. Tours use to be given there. You would enter at the Lower south level - That I believe would be the back of the Castle. As I understand The Congondon's no longer own the Castle ~ it has been inherited by a niece (or someone like that). I can find out more information from a very informative lady which lives nearby. There is an road nearby that I may be able to stop on & get a photo of. Growing up I lived about 2 miles away from the Castle. I am going home tomorrow night & will see if I can take a couple of pictures & send them to you!

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I visited Congdons Castle four years ago in May with a member of the Congdon family and his wife, along with three other visitors and myself. If I remember correctly, the castle is used for Board meetings of the estate and visited by the family occasionally.

It is the most beautifully decorated estate I have been privileged to see. I took some pictures from the back yard showing the back of the castle from that angle while we all played croquet one afternoon. I also have a picture taken from the tower looking down on the den and kitchen area, as well as one of the patio area. I would have to ask permission to let you have copies of these for your website though.

We got to tour the entire castle and grounds at our leisure. I think I remember I was told that there are 18 bedrooms. Sorry, but can't remember for sure. The castle has an indoor swimming pool, a tower, a Great Hall with a huge fireplace, a formal dining room (also with a huge fireplace), a wonderful kitchen, a den, a very large play room, many bathrooms, a caretaker's area, and long hallways running throughout the entire place! In the Great Hall there is a large table with photo albums showing the entire building of the castle, from ground to completion.

I understand that Mr. Congdon is the same Chester Congdon who built the Glensheen Mansion which is located in Duluth Minnesota.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

If anyone wants a clearer view of Congdons Castle now is the time - May 2001. The Congdons have just recently cleared the orchard out in front of the castle to leave a full view of it. They are replanting so its not gonna last long, but the sight is the best it has ever been. The Congdons still do own it just by the whole family though, so they take turns living in it and what not!

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I thought you'd like this photo for your page. One of the family married into the Congdon/Dupont family. This was sent to family members, no date on the photo but I'd say early 1900's. Think this will help many know what the estate looked like way back when..

Later, I received an E-Mail that said:

Your website should reflect that "The Battle of Congdon's Castle" took place in an adjoining apple orchard in the mid-1930's. This melee was an outgrowth of a Wobblie - inspired farm labor strike which resulted in mass arrests, the construction of an outdoor stockade, and the "deportation" to California by freight train. I'd love to see a history of these events.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I am writing you because I grew up at the Congdon ranch when I was small and lived there till I was 10 years old. My father worked there from 1952 till 1966. His name was Leslie Cheek. He and His wife Barbara lived in one of the houses below the castle along the Wide Hollow Creek.My mother worked in the warehouse and my dad worked the orchard..My fondest memories of the castle were playing along side of it in the large trees along the walnut tree row by the road that lead to the carriage entrance at the back of the castle.There use to be a telescope at the ledge of the hill that the castle was perched on and I was told that all the land that you could see in that telescope to the ridge was what the Congdon Family owned..

I met the Congdon Girls Once when I was 8 and gave them a tour of the property. one of them name was Gretchen. She was about 16 I think and her older sister was 18. they gave me a tour of the house.. Huge fire places and an olympic size swimming pool in the basement,that deleted all the water from the well while they filled it were some of the memories.. A old man named Richard Boone use to be the Forman and he lived In a big house on the other side of the ranch..Bob Melton was in charge of the trees.They did alot of propergating with experimental fruit trees.. There were trees that had 2 or 3 kinds of apples on them .. Even pears and apples both from grafting.

They raised prize charle` cattle ( not sure of the spelling) they had large barnes at both ends of the ranch and small cabins in the 50's that the migrant workers lived in. Some white folks too. A rail way system went through they ranch for the cattle to be unloaded and there was a small stone place where a bench was provided to sit to wait for the train. It would take you to town and back..My cousin even drowned there when he was 4 or 5 .His mane was Raymond Clinton Kublic Jr.He fell into the creek walking across the little wooden plank that use to cross infront of our house.. I think that was 1962 or 63. You could check the Yakima Hearald obits too see the year.

I went back there to take pictures in 1992 and got a short tour just because the person who was taking care of the castle knew who I was and my dad..I have many pictures but no scanner.. looking to get one.. If I do I will send you a few for your page.. My name is Leslie Sue Haines now was Cheek.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

Just read the emails you have received on Westhome, the Congdon Castle in Yakima, Washington. I have stayed at Westhome as a guest of one of the descendants of Chester Congdon, the builder of Westhome.

There have been almost no changes to Westhome since it was finished in 1916. Yes there is a very large swimming pool in the bottom level along with the boiler room and the Care takers quarters. On the main level in addition to the Master Suite; there are two, two bedroom suites; the living room; the dining room; the butlers pantry; kitchen which has several food storage rooms; an office; an enclosed sun-room; and the entrance to the tower and upper floors.

On the second level, there are 7 bedrooms some with bathrooms attached and some that have to share common bathrooms. There is also a small kitchen, a ballroom or billiard room and a room for table tennis. There are several levels up beyond this to the tower.

Westhome is not a very formal home as Chester built it as a summer home. He died the year it was completed, 1916, and never got to see it. His wife, Clara, was responsible for the finishing touches.

The lava stones to build Westhome were from a quarry not to far from the site of the Castle not from a foreign country as someone suggested.

The Congdon's are very gracious hosts and as a guest I was told to explore the home at my leisure and nothing was off limits except the caretakers quarters.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

In case no one has ever brough this story to your attention, the Congdon Mansion was owned by the Congdon family of Duluth, Minnesota. They also have a huge mansion, Glensheen, on Lake Superior. Tragically one daughter of Chester Congdon, Elisabeth, was murdered at Glensheen along with her nurse by her own adopted daughter in the late 1970's. The remaining family members are in seclusion at the Yakima location and elsewhere, while donating the Glensheen Mansion to the University of Minnesota. It is said that the ghost of Elisaebth and her nurse haunt the mansion...

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

My father Gordon Arthur Penny was the foster son of Helen (Congdon) D'Autremont the daughter of Chester Congdon. He spent many summers at Westhome growing up. As a young girl I remember vacationing there for a few days. He (my father) told me that at one time it was the largest Cherry Orchard in the world.

It was/is a magnificent estate. I would love to contact the heirs and let them know who I am and the connection I have with the family. I was unaware of the DuPont / Congdon connection, but I have heard of the murders of Elizabeth by her adopted daughter and her husband/boyfriend.

on 11-5-06, I received E-Mail that said:

Westhome aka Congdon Castle now has a website under construction at http://westhome.org/


No matter how elaborate your plans, a castle built on a swamp will always have structural problems.  If your building a house or a deck, be sure to survey the land first.  A little building homework goes a long way!


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A special thanks to Crystal Jensen and Brian Smolens for sending the photos.