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Castle Hotel & Spa

History: Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown

History

Formerly the private residence of prominent businessman General Howard Carroll, Castle Hotel & Spa once entertained the social elite of Westchester County and New York City long before it gained its notoriety as a world-class destination for romanic luxury getaways and refined cuisine.

Shortly before the turn of the 20th century, well-respected newspaperman, playwright, and businessman General Howard Carroll purchased land to build a home for his growing family. Carroll partnered with renowned New York architect Henry Kilburn to design an estate reminiscent of Norman fortifications in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Carrollcliffe was constructed in two stages between 1897 and 1910, with the finished castle boasting 45 rooms.

Utilized as the family dining room, the Oak Room boasts significant historic elements with wainscoting that was said to have been brought over to Tarrytown from General Carroll’s home in St. Germain, outside Paris. General Carroll’s French house was presented to James II by Louis XIV when he fled to France after having been deposed in England. It was in this room that James’ grandson Prince Charles Edward and Angus MacDonald, epresenting the Scottish highlanders, plotted the unsuccessful uprising of 1745 in the British Isles to overturn the German king and restore the lineage of James II.

Born in 1854 in Albany, New York, Howard Carroll was educated in New York, Germany, and Switzerland before he took his first and longest position as a Washington D.C. Correspondent with The New York Times, befriending leaders such as Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and James Garfield.

After refusing a series of official appointments in the Chester Arthur administration, Carroll wrote several plays, including The American Countess, which ran for 200 nights on Broadway. During this time, he also authored two books.

Carroll and his wife were among prominent figures of the Westchester County and New York City society, frequently entertaining the social elite on a grand scale resplendent in the tasteful luxuries of the era. To commemorate the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River and the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s first successful commercial application of the paddle steamer, Carroll hosted every officer from the German fleet stationed in the Hudson River region during the Hudson-Fulton Tercentennial Celebration of 1909. Notable guests included J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, foreign dignitaries, and ambassadors. A gourmet and connoisseur of rare wines, Carroll was gracious host, having organized numerous grand affairs at the castle, where guests could view the great river regattas from the terrace.

It was said that the success and size of their celebrations inspired the Carrolls to expand the castle. Completed in 1910, the addition boasted the Great Hall as the new dining room, an adjacent pantry, a formal ballroom, and additional servants’ quarters, garage, and stables.

After General Carroll’s death in 1916, his widow and children, Caramai, Arthur and Lauren, remained living at the castle until 1940, when it was temporarily used by the local school. Today, the elegant Ballroom at the Castle Hotel & Spa is still known as the Caramai Ballroom.

In 1941, Emerson and Ruth Axe purchased the castle along with 64 acres of land for $45,000. The Axes converted the estate into the headquarters of H.W. Axe & Company, an investment counseling firm. During their ownership, the estate became known as Axe Castle, and often called “High Finance on the Hudson.”

During World War II, the castle roof and 75-foot tower were partially enclosed to serve as an observation post by the Tarrytown Civil Defense to monitor air traffic in the area. As a military man, General Carroll undoubtedly would have approved of this.

In 1981, the town of Tarrytown designated the castle a historic landmark, protecting the exterior structure from any further alterations.

In the mid-1990s, the castle was converted into a luxury historic hotel with a gourmet restaurant and meeting and event facilities. With a 24 room addition aptly named Carrollcliffe and the castle's original suites carefully restored, the hotel celebrates the significance of its rich heritage.

In 2013, Castle Hotel & Spa underwent a thorough renovation and refurbishment to enhance the aura of bygone elegance and refinement of the historic property. The renovation included the addition of the luxurious THANN Sanctuary Spa, known throughout Asia as a retreat of peace and tranquility.

Throughout the restoration, every attempt was made to maintain the feeling of being in a cherished family home with a great deal of history and a storied past. The unique architectural elements of the main building were carefully preserved to showcase the cherished collectibles gathered from around the globe.

Showcasing intricate historic elements, the 3,300 ft2 of meeting and event rooms boast a strong history of the castle, including 40-foot vaulted ceilings and original Gothic windows with heraldic motifs in the spectacular 1,500 ft2 Great Hall. Flushed with natural light complemented with thoughtfully-appointed colors and fabrics, the 1,500 ft2 Caramai Ballroom exudes a graceful atmosphere accentuated by crystal chandeliers, preserved moldings, and other fine accents. The treasured Library features rich Mahogany bookcases and a dramatic panel ceiling in Neo-Classical style contribute to the room’s old-world beauty and charm.


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