WINNEKENNI CASTLE

Photo of castle from old postcard

I received E-Mail that said:

I was looking at your site and noticed that you are missing the Winnekenni Castle in Haverhill, Massachusetts. It is owned by the city of Haverhill (via bequest) and has been renovated inside over the last 15 years. The outside remains unchanged with the addition of a stage on one end. It is used to present cultural events to the city (concerts, puppet shows, dinner theater, etc....).

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

Hi there, just wanted you to know some more info on Winnekenni castle in Haverhill, Ma. I just spoke with a very nice gentleman that works there who told me that the castle is available to rent and is actually located on the property of a public park. They will be closing shortly for the winter and will re-open in the spring...During the spring and summer they have shows and events (some free, some at a cost) The phone number is (978)521-1686 and I was told if I call back in May I can be put on a mailing list for Spring/Summer 2001 event announcements...Hope this info is helpful. :)

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I was very glad to see that Haverhill, Mass. castle was still in good condition. As a child I played around that castle, and always wondered why it was built, who built it and who had lived in it. I left Haverhill in 1956, and so have not seen that castle since. I do hope that you go into the historical backgrounds of the castles. I would be interested in seeing what you have on this castle or on any others in Mass.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I am very thankful that someone has come forward with the information about this wonderful castle that I played at as a child. I do remember seesaws, swings and I think picnic tables around the grounds. It must be wonderful to be able to go inside the castle. When I played there, it was all boarded up inside and no one ever got inside it. I have copied for my own use the things provided by "The Story of Winnekenni" by Donald C. Freeman, and I will treasure them. I do wish that I could see this castle again, but as I live in Florida now, I don't think that I will be able to see it.

I think it is marvelous that you have set up this website for all these beautiful castles. I do hope that people are protecting these wonderful buildings and not tearing them down to put up office buildings or whatever.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I was just trying to find information on Winnekenni Castle and came across the following, I thought you'd like to add it to your site.

The Castle of Winnekenni (from the Algonquin Indian word meaning "very beautiful") was built by Dr. James R. Nichols after an excursion to England in 1872.

Using stone from the immediate vicinity, construction of Winnekenni Castle commenced in 1873, and the building was ready for occupancy by 1875. Dr. Nichols and his family lived there for the ten summers which followed, and during that time, the grounds were always open to the public.

When the health of Dr. Nichols began to fail, the Castle was acquired by a relative, William G. Webb from Salem, whose wife, incidentally, sponsored the famous Grand Opera Singer, Geraldine Farrar. Mr. Webb added a wooden wing and made the Castle his summer home until 1895 when it was acquired by the City of Haverhill.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

Winnekenni castle in Haverhill, Massachusetts now has itís own webpage at: http://www.winnekenni.com/

On 5-24-05, I received E-Mail that said:

I was reading the Haverhill Gazette this morning and saw a notice that the bronze elk statue that's been missing for almost 50 years is being replaced up at the Castle.

This has the article dated today May 24th ...but the curious part is they say it disappeared in 1955. My grandmother's house was the large cape the corner of Kenoza and a side street and faced the pond. We would visit quite often and always included walks up to the Castle. I swear I saw that bronze elk on the lawn just off right to the center of the front the Castle. It would have been the first thing seen coming directly up the hill through the woods. The dirt roadway was too boring to take as a 4 year old, it was more fun to climb the hill up through the trees. That would place the statue there still in 1959-1960.

I played many times on the old wood swing seats (they weren't the same when they changed to the rubber strap type), the wide green seesaws, and the metal slide. The Castle was boarded up with grey painted wood, but you could peer through the slits on the turrent window closest to the concrete patio. I saw glittering smashed glass on the floor and a corner of a carved fireplace. Always wanted to see more...my aunt told me she'd been inside it once when there was a tour before it was closed up. I envied her that opportunity as I always craved to go inside. I was heartbroken to hear about the fire as I lived in New Hampshire at the time and we still visited my grandparents very frequently.

The carriage house had the old crinkle cover single bulb street lamp attached over the doors, was done in Victorian shingle style with weathered brown shingles and green trim. I recall seeing a very old man and woman there who I was told were the caretakers. They always spooked me though they nodded hello. After a while I didn't see them - this would have been mid 1960s when I was 10.

Every Christmas time on the hill at night we could see the lighted cross on top of the turrent roof from the kitchen, dining room bay and den windows. I'm not sure when that custom was discontinued...perhaps after the fire in the late 60s when the place was gutted? We always skated on the pond, got a toboggan from the barn every year for sliding, and even did a little fishing once or twice near the reeds in the spring.

We had moved to Maine in 1971 and it was a while before I got back up there after the fire. It seemed so strange to finally look through the windows but only to see the stone wall opposite and a pit where the floor would be. That would have been in 1974 and I didn't return until after 1976. That's when the interior was to be rebuilt but to be honest, I was disappointed it wasn't restored to the residence layout as I will never know now what the inside was like. I'm glad something was done with it but wish I knew more of exactly what the Hamel Foundation relationship was with Winnekenni as there aren't many family members left I can ask.

On 5-27-05, I received E-Mail that said:

Here's the blurb from this week's Gazette announcing the installation of the Elk at Winnekenni if you're interested.

The Winnekenni Elk is gaining widespread appeal. Attorney James "Jay" Cleary said he's received queries from people all over the country who once lived in Haverhill and remember the statue. The new elk, donated by Cleary's client, Dorothy M. McClennan, will be dedicated June 5 at 1 p.m. to honor the Greatest Generation-those who served in World War II. A performance by the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra follows at 2 p.m. The public is invited.

Back to "Castles of the United States"

Thanks to Phil Bilzor for sending in the second photo.