December 17, 2017 – Westchester County, NY
Disclaimer: Exploring abandoned and/or ruined structures can be dangerous and you could be trespassing. Should you choose to enter the property of any of the places featured on this site, do so legally.
Completed in 1928 and named Elda Castle after the first letter of each of their four children’s names, in birth order, the ruinous estate sits on a rocky promontory in Westchester County, NY. The 4,337-square-foot castle was formed by a steel skeleton and a facade of granite and fieldstone, much of which was sourced from the property. Elda once boasted 25 rooms over two stories, arched doorways, a cast iron spiral staircase, courtyards, patios, and a wealth of other romantic elements.
I had read about this castle and thought it would be an interesting place to visit. Since it sits adjacent to a nature preserve, I figured that I would include that as well. We were looking to do a short hike on a cold December morning and this one fit the bill. This hike would require some bushwacking and with the snow, we wore our microspikes for better traction.
After a little bushwacking we made our way uphill on the estate road. I found it curious that the road was plowed on an abandoned estate. I had read that the property is for sale, so that may have been the reason.
After passing what looked like a fountain on the right, in the woods, the castle came into view.
The road circles around the castle and we stayed to the right.
Elda Castle was once the home of David Thomas Abercrombie, the founder of the Abercrombie & Fitch Company, and his wife, Lucy Abbott Cate.
Elda, the name they gave to the estate, is derived from the first letter of the names of each of their four children, in birth order: Elizabeth, Lucy, David and Abbott.
Work on Elda began in 1925 and was completed two years later. It was first occupied in late January 1928.
We walked around the castle in awe of this architectural marvel. The house has a number of arched and squared doorways and windows, curved stone and iron circular staircases, exposed stone chimneys, and vaulted spaced masonry porches.
There is a covered patio with a hipped roof with supporting stone arches reminiscent of the other gothic architectural elements of the building.
Tiles with whimsical heraldic and other images decorate its walls and fireplace chimney.
The main entrance of the house is on the west side and is accessed by a flight of curving stone steps that lead into a glass-enclosed vestibule that also served as a conservatory for Mrs. Abercrombie’s plants.
There is an open court yard or patio area that was intended, in part, to look like a ruin and in that section the windows are cut into the wall but not glazed.
After Mr. Abercrombie died, Mrs. Abercrombie moved in with her daughter, Elizabeth, who lived in New Jersey and Elda was unoccupied for several years until it was sold in the early 1940’s to a firm doing research on paints. After WWII the building remained empty for more than a decade and became the target of vandals.
The property has had numerous owners since then who have tried to rehabilitate it, but it has been mostly vacant for decades.
Vandals and squatters have destroyed the interior and ripped from it anything of value.
Across from the main entrance, are a pair of stone arches on either side of a deep ravine. They may have been abutments for a footbridge that at one time spanned the ravine.
Just to the north of the castle, there is another sizable building which at one time was the garage. At some point it was converted to a residence.
With the exception of the roof, the structure appears solid. The interior is another story, it’s in shambles. The upstairs was full of junk.
A spiral staircase leads down to the lower floor.
We retraced our steps back down the driveway and veered off onto an overgrown road that I had seen on an old map and headed towards the pond. Built into the hillside is an outhouse made of stone, complete with a metal toilet.
The stone steps to the left, lead to what appears to be a patio with a fireplace.
A few feet away, on the edge of the pond, there is what may have been a stone changing room for when they swam in the pond.
We continued on, bushwacking through the woods, back to the nature preserve where we began our hike. We hiked several of the trails there just to add some mileage to our hike, but there wasn’t much to see except for a few stone walls and lots of trees. We made our way back to where we had parked and called it a day.
This was a short hike with a big payoff. The castle is very impressive as are the grounds. I did not post the location for obvious reasons, but it is not that difficult to find. I hope that you enjoyed the hike, now get out there and explore!
Source: New York History Blog