Gillette Castle’s Great Room


In Gillette Castle at Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, CT.

This room shows off William Gillette’s theater roots, looking very much like a stage set.

Secret passage


In Gillette Castle at Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, CT.

Secret passageways in mansions and castles are an old dramatic staple, so of course Gillette Castle would have them. This passage leads from the Study to the foyer, where William Gillette would suddenly appear at the top of the stairs to greet guests. He would also use it to sneak out of the castle if he had any visitors he wanted to avoid. He had a network of mirrors throughout the castle he would use to see who was in Great Room before meeting them, or not meeting them.

William Gillette’s secret lab


At Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, CT.

This lower room was used by the builders during the construction of the castle, and later as a workshop where Gillette designed and made the theatrical elements of his home. It’s just off the entry hall and was not apparent to his guests. It’s behind glass so the public won’t disturb the original items in the room.

On a personal note, a branch of my family helped build the castle in the 1910s, according to my father. I haven’t been able to find any reference to them, though. Their name was Bannon, if anyone comes across a reference they can point me to.

Entryway details at Gillette Castle

At Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, CT.


Lighting detail.


Each window in Gillette Castle, like the doors, is unique, with different wooden mechanisms. This gear-like latch keeps the window open at different degrees.

Gillette Castle entryway

At Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, CT.


Stairway to the main room.


Elaborately carved wooden door with intricate trick wooden mechanical locks. Most of the doors in the building are like this, with theatrical features.


Mud room.

Stone railway station at Gillette Castle


William Gillette kept a private railway on his property, with steam and electric engines. This is his Grand Central Station, made of stone like the rest of his architecture. It’s now used as a patio area. The Connecticut River can be seen in the background.

At Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, CT.