A Visit to Castle Rock

Nothing beats asking what you’re supposed to be scouting for, and being told: “Castles.”

Castle Rock 01

If you’ve ever driven along Route 9D in Garrison, New York, you may have seen it from the road: a fairy tale-like castle poking out from the trees at the top of a mountain:

Castle Rock 02

Built in 1881, Castle Rock was the estate of Illinois Central Railroad president William Osborn, who also owned hundreds of acres of land surrounding property. Since Osborn’s death in 1894, Castle Rock has passed down through numerous Osborn generations and is still privately owned by the family. Rumors abound that the castle was writer Frank Baum’s inspiration for the castle in the Wizard of Oz (Castle OSborn?).

Castle Rock was deemed a National Landmark in 1977. Most of the surrounding woodland was donated to the State Parks Council and is now open to the public. Several films and TV shows have been shot at Castle Rock, and the owners are very film friendly. I was graciously granted permission to post these pictures to help spread the word, and if you’re seriously interested, email me your production interest, and I’ll pass along the contact info.

The drive up to the property is a long, windy dirt road that snakes up the mountain, a perfect approach to such a unique place. Note the numerous KEEP OUT signs! This is still private property, and a caretaker living on the premises has had to call the police countless times. Most productions park their trucks at the nearby library and use stakebeds to portage up equipment:

Castle Rock 03

When you finally get to the top of the hill, you pass under this beautiful stone arch:

Castle Rock 04

Continue around a bend, and you find a stone gate:

Castle Rock 06

Pass through and you’ve reached Castle Rock!

Castle Rock 07

The front of the castle:

Castle Rock 08

A tower:

Castle Rock 09

A different view from the lower level:

Castle Rock 10

One of many porches:

Castle Rock 11

The famous spire:

Castle Rock 12

A basement-level passage:

Castle Rock 13

This addition was to be a recreation room. Sadly, it was never finished:

Castle Rock 14

Castle Rock is currently in the midst of some serious interior renovation work. The original door has been temporarily removed for construction. Anyone know what those hooks to the right are (perhaps for tying up horses)?

Castle Rock 15

This is the front hall, and you can see the extent of renovation work. This is all to be redone within the next year or two, but a clever production company with a budget could easily cover up the work (or even help finish it):

Castle Rock 16
(pan: click for full size!)

A second room with wood-paneling:

Castle Rock 17

The living room features a wrap-around porch…

Castle Rock 18

Head out on the porch and you are treated to one of many gorgeous views of the Hudson…

Castle Rock 19
(pan: click for full size!)

The full view of the Hudson from Castle Rock:

Castle Rock 20
(pan: click for full size!)

If you look north up the Hudson, you can see West Point. From this vantage point, it becomes quite obvious why the original garrison was built on this strategic crook in the river:

Castle Rock 21

Other Castle Rock porches and balconies, all with equally stunning views:

Castle Rock 22

A lower-level porch:

Castle Rock 23

No visit to Castle Rock is complete without a trip to the famous spire. I headed up the creaky spiral staircase…

Castle Rock 24

…up into the spire…

Castle Rock 25

…which features a full panorama of windows.

Castle Rock 26

Here is the view from the spire:

Castle Rock 27
(pan: click for full size!)

Another picture:

Castle Rock 28

A rare view of the Castle Rock roof:

Castle Rock 29

Outside, the Castle Rock grounds are tree-lined, shady and peaceful. This road leads over the stone arch I passed under when I first came up the mountain:

Castle Rock 30

Looking away from the house, the road leads to a quiet spot surrounded by trees…

Castle Rock 31

At the far end is a fountain that I imagine hasn’t been used in quite a while:

Castle Rock 32

The fountain up-close:

Castle Rock 33

Finally, I love the break in this little stone wall, leading off into the surrounding wilderness.

Castle Rock 34

There’s a lot more to Castle Rock that I didn’t have a chance to shoot, including the Osborn’s original spring-fed wooden water tank. You can’t find a more unique property than Castle Rock, and the fact that it is located just over an hour from New York City is unbelievable. A special thanks again to Castle Rock for letting me post these pictures, and again, if you’re interested, send me an email and I’ll relay the contact info.

-SCOUT

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23 comments

  1. Wow. Its so strange to see this up here on your blog and I never really knew of its history. I use to be friends with the Osbourne’s son and would stay over. We use to play lazer tag around the whole house. Truly fond memories of that place. Thanks for sharing and I love your blog!

  2. WOW. Beautiful. I really love that fountain! Thanks to you (and to the owners) for these amazing photos.

  3. Haha! I shot there about 4 years ago. The caretaker, Chip, was amazingly friendly.

  4. Wow, thank you for sharing this! I have passed this place 1,000 times over the years. It’s pretty great to finally get as peek at what is up at the end of that long drive.

    I *think* I remember hearing a rumor back in the mid 90s that Sylvester Stallone had bought it or lived there. Obviously that was just a rumor.

    Great stuff – Love your blog!

  5. Love your blog, and I’ve always wondered what that was up there! If you’re still scouting castles, I might suggest you travel a little farther north to Proctor, VT (just outside Rutland) and check out the Wilson Castle. No idea how they might feel about film crews, but it couldn’t hurt to ask. http://www.wilsoncastle.com/index.htm

  6. I could swear they shot (at least some of) Last Days there.

  7. I’ve hiked many times in the surrounding state parks and had always wondered what the Castle looked like up close. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to see it at last!

  8. Watch Last Days by Gus Van Sant. We shot half the movie there. Cheers to Chip!

  9. Other castles in that vicinity that might or might not be interested in film work are Lyndhurst, a National Historic Landmark in Tarrytown, and Morningthorpe, owned by the Delancey Street Foundation, in Brewster. I’d love to see either or both of them show up on the big screen one day.

  10. My husband was Alexander Perry Osborn III. He grew up at Castle Rock as it was left ot his father. He lived in Wyoming for quite some time where we met and later married. I had the opportunity to go back there about 2 weeks ago with my son Alexander Perry Osborn IV. It had been 27 years since our last visit there. Castle Rock looked a lot different then. I would really love to see it restored and made into a museum or some type of historical place. There is a lot of history there. Chip was filling us in on a lot of it when we were back there recently. My husband passed away 2 years ago and I know he dearly Loved Castle Rock.
    Lola Osborn

    • Alexander Perry Scott

      Am interested in collecting information on your family. AP Osborn descended from the younger son of Christopher Raymond Perry and Sarah Wallace Alexander (hence your late husband’s, your son’s and my name). I descend from their second son Raymond.

  11. I spent a wkend here in spring of 81. We had sailed up from Fort Lauderdale and spent some time in NYC with me mate’s sister and friends, who invited us to the castle for a wkend party. we sailed up and spent the wkend. I had so much fun I jumped ship and hitched back to NYC to hang out with my new friends.
    This fall my eldest son will be starting school at Bard, just up the river from Garrison. Hope to visit the castle this august when we take him to Bard. I believe Chip was the caretaker back in 81-were you friends with the folks who had just put together the John Lennon bio right after he died?

  12. I love the pics,thanks.I drove up there one day years ago with my wife and kids.We didnt get out or anything,but that caretaker came out and sent us out.He was very much a New-Yorker,very rude.A real ass.

  13. my father was the caretaker at forest farm in garrison mr osborns estate at the foot of the castle we lived there for years and i was never up to the castle it was nice seeing the pictures. are there any pictures of the house and gardens and pool and walk that mr osborn lived in?

  14. For several years I would drive by the castle on my way to Garrison Station. Looking at the castle ever morning from a distance, I felt like it was a doorway into a ‘magical world’. It was wonderful to come across your site. It gave me a chance to see the magical mystery. Thank You!

  15. i had the pleasure of visting a some years back and Chip was wonderful. i watched Last Days recently and was so excited when i figured out that i had been there. thanks for the lovely pictures. i took several while there but lost all of them :(

  16. I visited Castle Rock just over 20 years ago and Chip was the caretaker, even then. He was also amazingly warm and friendly. I have often thought about taking my kids up there to see it and to meet Chip. Does anyone know if he is still the caretaker now (2012)?

  17. Though it’s years after you posted this, thank you! I work at The Thayer Hotel at West Point and our hotel is directly across from the castle. People are always asking me “what that house is” and now I have the knowledge to tell them!
    Thanks Scout!

  18. This place was part of my childhood when me and my father visited the castle and Chip. I loved to hike around the castle and look out from the peak. For anyone who’s wondering Chip is still the caretaker…hes also my uncle :)

  19. Wow I can’t believe my mom excluded us from the comments. I am an adopted child of AP the 3rd, he adopted 3 boys and 1 girl before having his biological child with our mother. So there a 4 boys total that carry this family’s name. I would be delightfully interested to research the family history, just to set the record clear, I am related to the Osborn’s due to adoption, but it has always been my understanding you have to be a blood relative to be accepted by this family, as per my mom forfeiting the info about us and only bringing up the biological child. My oldest brother also accompanied her on her trip there to the castle the second time. Anyways, just blew my mind when I ran across this thing researching our family history with our children!!!!!

  20. And I do remember a conversation between my grandma and dad about Stallone wanting to rent the place, story is our grandma was able to meet Stallone due to this, and she expressed her disbelief about his height. Is it true, I couldn’t tell ya, but I never knew that lady to be a liar.

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