Accidents Lost & Abandoned

The Mysterious Burning of Rocky Hill Castle

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I didn’t go past the caution tape for safety reasons but I zoomed in as much as possible. You can see the fire totally destroyed the house.

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Rocky Hill Castle, which is in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania is, as they say: a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Not much is known about it’s history at all. Recently a local historian published a book on old properties in the area, and even she failed to turn up much information despite thoroughly searching.

What is known is that the house began as an airy Victorian home with a wraparound porch (there’s a drawing just below of the house in its first incarnation). Nearly two hundred years ago, around 1821, the house was built by a local equestrian who used the originally large property for fox hunting. A former resident of the castle said his name was possibly Joseph Luke and that he lived there on the 600 acres for 80 years.

The original house in a drawing. It is a Victorian white house with wraparound porch and green awnings on the windows.

A drawing of the house as it originally looked.

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The portico was used for horse carriages.

The house didn’t catch anyone’s notice until 1912 when a Philadelphia businessman, possibly a butcher according to a former resident, purchased the land as a summer retreat. For reasons unknown, he converted the house into a stone castle complete with 12 bedrooms, a portico for carriages out front (which you can still see a bit despite the fire damage), a grand staircase, and servant’s quarters on the third floor. It was reported that he thought of himself as a king which is maybe why he wanted a castle to live in.

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It’s current owners have owned the property since the mid-1950’s. They are moving South and had been working on cleaning up the castle for its sale. Still, it was in disrepair and was being sold in “as is” condition.

Then in January of 2016, just after the owners reportedly received an offer on the home, a fire ripped through the castle. The wooded, remote area and the ornate oak-paneled walls in the home spread the fire rapidly. Many of the owners belongings and antiques stored on the property were kept in the barn about 30 feet away from the house and were untouched by the fire.

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The barn was not damaged from the fire but is still in some disrepair. I love the steeple at the top.

A real estate listing noted the house as “demolished” and the listing changed to “sold” and off the market in April of 2016. Back in January it was reported that the cause of the blaze was being investigated but I found nothing that said the issue had been resolved, at least publicly.

You can check out what the house looked like before the fire on this old real estate listing: here.

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A barn window.

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Sources: 1, 2, 3