The history of Squire’s Castle starts with the name. Squires Castle is a bit of a misnomer- it’s a shell of a building in the North Chagrin Reservation in the Cleveland Metroparks with a giant expanse of grass perfect for picnicking.
History of Squire’s Castle
Fergus Squire was an executive with Standard Oil Company. He lived on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland and eventually moved to Cobblestone Garth, a Victorian mansion on Wickliffe’s Millionaire Row. Squire married Louisa Christiana Braymaier on the day after Christmas in 1976.
In 1890, he purchased 525 acres of forested land east of Cleveland and called it River Farm Estate. He planned to turn it into an English country estate with a manor house. In 1895, he started constructing a gatekeeper’s house in the Romanesque Revival style and finished in 1897. German and English castles inspired it.
The Castle’s Structure
Squire’s castle was built with Euclid bluestone (blue sandstone) quarried nearby. It had a ground floor, two upper floors, and a basement in the height of its grandeur. Most importantly, the rustic structure lacked electricity, gas, and running water. Unfortunately, today you can only explore the ground floor of this gatehouse.
The plaques adorning the walls describe the rich history of Squire’s Castle:
“The ‘castle’ as it was: The castle had several bedrooms, living areas, a large kitchen, and a breakfast porch. All the castle rooms had white plaster walls and elegant woodwork. Leaded glass windows looked out on the property. The room you are standing in was one of the most beautiful rooms in the home. It was Squire’s library or hunting room. Books, trophy cabinets, stuffed animal specimens, and paintings filled this cozy room.
“The Castle Today: Squire’s Castle is a favorite place for families to visit. Picnicking, hiking, and enjoying wildflowers are part of the castle experience. But mostly, the castle is a place to let your imagination wander, where you can explore, daydream, and reflect on a time gone by.”
Mr. Squire ran into trouble after having trouble obtaining building materials and labor. He and his daughter used the space as a weekend country home. They spent the majority of the summer of 1903 there. However, Squire’s wife disliked the gatehouse, and they abandoned it after 1908.
Squire seldom visited the castle after he retired from Standard Oil in 1909. He and his family toured Europe. He also became a single-term mayor of Wickliffe and sold the estate in 1922 to developers who went bankrupt.
The Willoughby Hills, Ohio structure is allegedly haunted. The legend explains that Squire’s wife woke one night during a storm and went downstairs to investigate. She was startled as the lightning illuminated the stuffed animal heads in the structure’s trophy room. As the lightning crashed, Squire’s wife fell down the stairs and broke her neck.
According to legend, the ghost continues to float through Squire’s Castle. However, the myths surrounding the haunting of the property are false. She did not die at the estate but died at Cobblestone Garth on October 29, 1927.
How it Entered the Cleveland Metroparks
A local bank eventually seized the estate, and the Cleveland Park Board purchased the land from the bank in 1925. Most importantly, they named it Squire’s Castle, removed the upper floors, and filled the basement.
Squires Castle was destroyed over the years. In other words, vandals smashed the leaded glass windows and removed all architectural details. In 1995, the Park Board restored the structure. Today, children love the aged design and had a blast with the vast amount of space.
Live-action role-play occurs in the expanse of grass out front. Weddings happen- engagements occur. Magic happens at Squire’s Castle, and this is a must-do day trip!
Do you love a historical backstory? Please let me know in the comments!
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