Monday, March 14, 2011

The 'Castle' in Lake County's Emerald Necklace

When traveling the roads of Willoughby Hills, Ohio, a shell of a building in the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks is a bit of local lore worth visiting.  Void of its original Tiffany windows and only a shell of its former self, one can still roam the interior structure, surrounding grounds, and ponder the urban legend often associated with Squire's Castle.

Feargus B. Squire was born in Exeter, England in 1850.  Arriving in the U. S. at the age of ten, Feargus joined Standard Oil in 1885 as a co-manager with Frank Rockefeller.  His design of a tank wagon for overland oil shipment proved successful and his star was on the rise.  In  the 1890's, he began work on a gatekeeper's house for his future country estate.  This gatekeeper's house was to be complete with a living room, several bedrooms, a library and hunting lodge great room.  Situated on 525 acres, the country estate was never built.  The gatehouse was the only structure completed in its time.  Built by locally famous William Squire, a benefactor of Western Reserve University, including his country estate Squire Valleevue Farm, Feargus did spend some nights at the Castle.  His wife was not a fan of the future summer retreat and hunting grounds lodge.  Squire retired from active life in 1909 and toured Europe.  Upon his return his family resided in a newly built home on Wickliffe's Millionaire's Row.  Its name was Cobblestone Garth.  Feargus' last public act was to serve one term as Mayor of Wickliffe.   Squire's Castle was sold in 1922 and acquired by the Cleveland Metroparks three years later.  Squire's wife became part of an urban legend that became affixed to the former gatehouse, when it was rumored that her accidental broken neck and resulting death in 1929 led to her nightly appearance at the Castle window.  In reality, Rebecca's death occurred in Wickliffe and was just another event that solidified the local lore of Squire's Castle and the abandoned structure.  Renovations in 1995 and 2008 have preserved some of the remaining structure.  Visitors to the park can roam the interior and some signage is posted to share the Castle's history.

Visit and witness another link to Lake County's Gilded Age.

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