A Rutland County community group is coming together to save a local landmark.
Wilson Castle sits on 150 acres off the West Proctor Road in Proctor.
"A Vermont doctor, Dr. Johnson, owned land here, went to England to do his residency. When he was over in England, he fell in love with an English noble lady. And she refused to move to Vermont unless she had a true English castle," recalled Hurley Cavacas, a member of Friends of Wilson Castle, the group trying to save the landmark.
The castle has three floors and is divided into 32 rooms. It features 13 fireplaces and more than 120 stained glass windows.
"This is a true English castle with turrets and parapets. Built of English brick. That is why our bricks are deteriorating. It is very soft. All of the brick was shipped. Brought up by oxen to the site here when it was built," said Cavacas.
Construction on the castle started in 1860. It took seven years to complete at a cost of $1.3 million dollars. Dr. Johnson and his wife lived in the home for less than 3 years.
"She got home sick and she wanted to go back to England," said Denise Davine, also a member of Friends of Wilson Castle.
Over the next 100 years the castle was bought and sold four times. In 1939, Colonel Herbert Lee Wilson bought the land to open a radio station and for a family summer home. In 1962, the Wilson's decided to share the castle with the public.
"There were people coming by looking in the windows. So Colonel Wilson - Herbert Wilson - decided you know what, they are here anyway - so we will charge admission. He had a lot of artifacts, antiques from around the world," said Davine.
Colonel Wilson died in the early 1980s and it has been nearly a decade since anyone lived in the castle, even though some of the family still resides on the property.
The castle is still open for tours from May until October each year. But the 150-year-old structure continues to deteriorate. The Friends of Wilson Castle is in charge of the restoration project.
"We are hoping to get the heating system in here so this building can be used year round, because it is really hard on the structure when it is closed down during the winter months," said Terry Cavacas, a member of Friends of Wilson Castle.
The group's goal is to obtain $350,000 in federal grants to pay for the heating system, and to make other cosmetic repairs to the castle over the next few years. The long-term goal for the Friends of Wilson Castle is to open the building year round, not just for tours, but other events like weddings and proms.
"It's not everywhere where you have a castle like this that is sitting, and it would be a shame to watch it fall apart," said Dominic Gorruso, also a member of Friends of Wilson Castle.
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