In the 1840's, Erie railroad baron, Eleazar Lord, built this 30 room, 15,000 square foot castle, which he named "The Cedars". Locals would call it the Castle. Lord's Castle was influenced by a Gothic revival sentiment that had begun sweeping the eastern seaboard in the 1830s and was said to be modeled after the manor house on Sir Walter Scott's Scottish estate, Abbotsford.
Until it was sold to the Shah Family in 2015, just 3 families owned the castle. When Lord passed away in 1871, his daughter Sarah and her husband, William Whiton, struggled to hold onto the house. They never regained financial footing after the Panic of 1873 and were relieved when Pittsburgh banking and railroad heir, Alexander Blair Thaw bought it in 1890.
Under the ownership of the Thaws, the house was transformed by leading New York City architectural firm, McKim, Mead & White who began work on the Castle in 1892. The house was expanded and the interior was remodeled in their signature Beaux-Arts ornate style. The original gable ends were stepped, the pointy Gothic windows were Edwardianized, the wooden porches reconstructed in stone, the tower on the west capped with a conical roof, the forest of delicate chimney pots combined and bulked up, and the reconfigured interior given heavy doses of classical columns, balusters, dadoes, fireplaces and moldings. (1)
Eleazar Lord was a friend of Washington Irving, whose house, called Sunnyside, is across the Hudson in Irvington.
Legend has it that the ivy given to Lord by Irving for one of the castle walls was from Beethoven's grave in Bonn while ivy for another wall was from Sir Walter Scott's grave at Abbotsford and that together they planted the boxwood gardens adjacent to "Lord's Castle."
Upon occasion, the Lords boarded their large rowboat, "The Barge," and, propelled by two oarsmen in livery, were rowed across the Tappan Zee to Sunnyside for an evening's entertainment." (2)
In 1968, Gerald and Charlene Ikelheimer moved in with their 3-year-old son Doug. Charlene would later marry Richard Stern in a wedding at the Castle and remain there until 2015 when the current owners, Tejas and Akshie Shah, purchased the castle and refurbished it as their summer home.
Bruce Ikelheimer recalls growing up in the castle.
The Great Hall of Lord's Castle is executed in a delicate classicism reminiscent of Federal era design and was likely influenced by the burgeoning Colonial Revival Movement complete with ornate columns and coffered ceilings. The paneling in the dining room was reported to have been sourced from Northern Europe and is said to date from the 18th century.
The movement of architectural "salvages" from Europe to the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a common phenomenon, as rich Americans looked for paneling to fit their antique furniture collections. The library is paneled in mahogany and features delicate painted stencil work and an amazing reading nook. The original M. M. & W. floor plans are framed on the library wall.
The grand staircase features an impressive tripartite window complete with an elegant fanlight, a common design element during the Colonial Revival period. Note that each tread has 4 ornate balusters adding to the staircase's grand appearance.
The house also boasts an elevator, an original icebox and dumbwaiter as well as a walk-in safe in the basement. Lord's Castle sits on 19 acres.
1.Foreman, John. I Love this Old House.
2. Saveli, Isabelle K., Martin VanBuren And Washington Irving In Rockland County- Part II South of the Mountain, The Rockland County Historical Society, Vol 28, No. 1, January- March 1984, p. 16.
3. Wilcke, Vincent. Lord's Castle: An 1890's Beaux-Arts Dream.