Sunday, August 26, 2012

a little place that sits beneath the sky

despite a ridiculously trafficky drive back home, i had a fantastic time in CT. filled with steam trains and steam boats, island tours, diners that have been around since before even my mom was born, castles and pirate stories, it was just a really, really fun time. and it in no way helped me prepare for school. which starts tomorrow. do you think i could teach myself the programming i was supposed to learn all summer tonight? do you think if i start studying for my qual exams right now it would do any good? or do you think i should continue to pretend that there is a month between today and tomorrow and i'll be just fine if i don't think about it too much? personally, i see myself going down the third route. and possibly regretting it later.

but back to connecticut. i'm normally not the kind of person that gives good reviews of trips with details and pictures and researched information (mostly because i'm way too lazy), but i thought i'd actually be a bit educational today. (though i'm not going to post pictures because i think my camera is still in the car.) anyway, while in connecticut, we took a tour of gillette's castle, which is nestled up in the hills over the connecticut river. (did you know that the state of connecticut was named after the river and not the other way around? me neither.)

originally the private residence of william gilette, the state bought the castle and turned it into a state park in '43 when his family claimed it was just too expensive to keep and put it up for auction. william gilette was an actor, playwright, stage-manager, cat-lover, train-builder, and all around awesome guy most famously known for his portrayal of sherlock holmes on stage. he's the one that gave holmes the deerstalker hat and curved pipe, and coined the phrase "elementary my dear fellow" which later got changed to "elementary my dear watson." he was a fascinating person who is pretty much forgotten now, and definitely worth reading about. he used to live on house boats, but fell in love with the view of the CT river and the hills and built his estate, seventh sister (named after the hills he built on) so he could always see it. (and you can't blame him. the views are breathtaking.) he had built in furniture that reminded him of his boats, mirrors strategically placed so he could see who came in the front door and who was at his liquor cabinet from his bedroom, secret doors for escape passages, and an elaborate fire extinguishing plan because he knew firemen could not reach his castle fast enough. he also built his own train, laid three miles of track around his property, and built two "train stations." einstein and president coolidge were two of his most famous visitors. (einstein and his wife reportedly thought gillette's train driving was terrifying.) gillette's house had forty-seven doors, and each one was completely unique. everything was hand-carved, he used straw matting meant for the floor to cover his walls with, and he loved cats. he had between fifteen to twenty cats at a time, and when he lived on his boat used to throw tea parties for them. his house was filled with cat statues and figurines (which reminded me of my grandma), and apparently when he had to give away some of his cats at one time he was so specific about who they went to that he required resumes and interviews before he made a decision. 

there were so many cool things to see in the castle, and so many interesting things to be learned about gillette, that this blog post could go on forever and still not capture it all. if you ever find yourself by the CT river, you should definitely make your way out there. totally worth it. oh, and his good friend (who he built a house for on his property) was the brother of the guy that gave the cherry blossoms to DC. i thought that was cool. 

*Midnight Show - The Killers


  1. anonymous hippopotamusAugust 26, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    so jealous that you guys went to gillette castle! :( i need to get back to CT and visit it. maybe once omar's 3 too..

  2. when you guys get back from riyadh you should go. i'm already thinking of when i can go back.