CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – When someone thinks of castles and palaces, they often think of medieval knights, chivalry, siege warfare, etc. However, that didn’t stop some people from constructing these great feats of architecture right in the midst of the Appalachian Mountains.
Good Counsel Friary, Morgantown
Located at 493 Tyrone Road in Morgantown, this castle began construction in 1928. Built by Thoney Pietro, an Italian immigrant as well as a masonry and infrastructure development businessman, for his family, the castle is made up of 3,400 feet of masonry.
In 1949, the property was donated to the Catholic church, became a monastery used for the training of priests and was renamed Good Counsel Friary. The monastery was then abandoned in 2007, remaining so until 2012, when the property was purchased by Calvary Chapel Morgantown.
Since the building began its renovations, Calvary Chapel have given out the occasional exclusive tour of the place.
Palace of Gold, Moundsville
The Palace of Gold, also known as Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold, is a staple of New Vrindaban, a Hare Krishna community that resides in the northern panhandle of West Virginia.
While the community of New Vrindaban began in 1968, the Palace of Gold did not begin construction until 1973, when the followers of Srila Prabhupada, a Vedic scholar, translator and teacher known for his work on bhakti-yoga and his devotion to the deity Krishna, decided to build his holiness a home.
According to the official website, they began construction on a simple house based on a rough sketch. What ultimately emerged from this “trial and error construction” was a grand palace made from marble, onyx, teak and 22 karat gold leaf along with stained-glass, mosaic floors and mirrored ceilings. The palace also features gardens, fountains and a lily pond.
Tours of the palace are available along with places to dine and shop.
Berkeley Castle, Berkeley Springs
The building probably most deserving of the title of West Virginia castle belongs to Berkeley Castle, also known as Samuel Taylor Suit Cottage, in Berkeley Springs. Inspired by Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, England, Colonel Samuel Taylor Suite supposedly had the West Virginia castle built for his love, Rosa Pelham, as a means to win her hand in marriage, though as the website itself states, “there is little evidence to support the story of Rosa’s ultimatum.”
The 9,300 square foot castle was built by 100 German masons between 1885 and 1891 and was supposedly designed by A.B. Mullett, the architect responsible for designing “the San Francisco Mint, U.S. State Department Building, U.S. Treasury Building and New York Post Office.”
The castle was built from locally mined and hand-cut silica sandstone and features a ballroom with a grand staircase, a secret passageway with a dungeon, gargoyles and a turreted rooftop with battlements.
After Suit’s death in 1888, Rosa inherited the castle upon its completion, as well as Suit’s money. Rosa’s spending habits eventually led her to be “forced out by creditors,” selling the castle to the bank in 1916.
After years of being used for one thing or another, the castle was saved and restored by then-owner Andrew Gosline, starting in 2002, and is now privately owned by the Berkeley Castle Foundation.
While the castle is no longer open to the public, rental inquiries for private events can still be made.