Rhodes Hall is one of the last great original homes on Peachtree St. in Atlanta. It was completed in 1904 and built by a successful furniture retailer who offered reasonably priced furniture and installment plans--both innovations at the time. It cost $50,000 ($700,000 in today's dollars) to build and boasted over 300 light bulbs at a time when such luxuries were rare. Five-hundred-pound blocks of stone from Stone Mountain 24 miles away were hauled in. Rhodes' store still stands and today is a Residence Inn. Rhodes Hall is used as a wedding venue and was recently referred to as "the 800-pound gorilla currently home to the non-profit Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation." The first photo is dated 1909.
Snyder Castle in Camdenton AR is also known as Ha Ha Tonka ("laughing spirit" in Osage). It was built in 1905 also utilizing local stone materials. Unfortunately, Snyder did not enjoy his new home for long as he was killed in one of Arkansas' first auto accidents. It sat unfinished for 16 years, then tragedy struck again in 1942 when fire gutted the building. It sat idle again, this time for 36 years when it was taken over by the state of Arkansas as part of the Ha Ha Tonka State Park. The first and third photos date from early 1900s
The last castle isn't really a castle at all--it was a "summer cottage" built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II. It has 70 rooms and 125,000 sq. ft., of which 62,000 is living area. The Breakers was built between 1893-95 at a cost of $11,000,000 ($110,000,000 in today's dollars). Almost half of the 70 rooms were for the staff, who went about their duties via hidden passageways and doors rarely being seen. Today The Breakers is owned by The Preservation Society of Newport, which conducts tours for about 400,000 visitors per year. The first photo shows it from the front under construction in 1894 and then, in the third photo, newly completed in 1895 . The backyard view is dated 1909 (click to enlarge).
Oheka Castle was built between 1914 and 1919 by financier Otto Herman Kahn (hence, Oheka) on 443 acres on the highest point on Long Island, NY. It cost $11,000,000 ($110,000,000 in today's dollars) making it second only to the Biltmore Mansion in Ashville NC as the most expensive home ever built. It has 127 rooms and totals 109,000 square feet and, at its height, employed 127 servants. After Kahn's death in 1934, it became a military school then retreat for New York Sanitation Workers. In 1936 Kahn's image was used as the Monopoly Man. Oheka sat idle for five years and then a developer purchased it in 1984. He spent $30,000,000 and 16 years restoring it to its former grandeur--the largest restoration ever! Today it is a wedding venue and a hotel, film, and TV location. Oheka was used in the opening scene of Citizen Kane and is reputed to be the inspiration for the Great Gatsby home. The first photo shows Oheka under construction, the third shows the sanitation workers in 1939, the fifth shows Kahn with Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin.
Far less imposing is Bryan Castle built in Idaho Springs CO in 1880. It was acquired in 1965, and the new owner built a moat and a draw bridge and put in extensive landscaping which now all but hides the home. The first photo is dated 1895 and the third shows it as an apartment building in 1938.
Melrose Castle was built on 50 acres in Casanova VA in 1853. During the Civil War it was occupied by both Union and Confederate forces. Melrose Castle has 9,000 square feet and, after years of neglect, is now privately occupied. It is seen here in two pictures from 1863.
Located 50 miles north of New York City on a six-acre island in the Hudson River sits a spooky, hulking relic known as Bannerman Castle. It was built by Frank Bannerman VI who, at 13 years of age, took over his father's military supply business in New York City when his father left to fight in the Civil War. He purchased 90% of the Spanish American War military surplus and needed space to store 100 tons of black powder.He found the perfect site and built his castle/arsenal starting in 1901. It took seven years to build, mainly because he was constantly changing his design during construction. Later he became the world's largest supplier of military equipment; his catalog was over 300 pages. In 1920, 200 tons of black powder blew up, and no repairs were ever made. Bannerman Castle was abandoned for 47 years following a devastating fire in 1969 and is now owned by NY Parks and Recreation, which allows for special events, frequent boat tours, and theatrical productions. The first photo shows the Castle under construction, and the third is dated 1905 (click to enlarge).
The Fountain of Time by Loredo Taft was dedicated in Chicago in 1922. Taft spent fifteen years on the project and even included himself as one of the figures. The fountain is 125 feet long and contains 100 figures passing before Father Time. It represents the full spectrum of humanity in varying stages of life and includes children, soldiers, kissing couples, etc. It is the oldest finished piece of art made of concrete in the country. In 1999 a $1.6 million restoration was begun and has yet to be completed. The close up picture is from 1920 and the other is from the 1922 dedication (click to enlarge).
Tower Grove Park in St. Louis opened in 1868 with the then largest variety of tree species (over 200) of any urban park in the country. Today it still holds that honor with 7500 trees covering 325 species. The stone blocks in the photos came from the Lindell Hotel which burned in 1867. They were placed by the fountain to create an "ancient ruins" effect even though they were only four years old. The first photo is dated ca. 1900.
The Elk Fountain was donated to the City of Portland OR in 1900. It has four water troughs for horses and is still serving them to this day. The early photo is ca.1900.