Exploring Oakland's Historic Van Slyke Castle

Situated at the base of Oakland's Ramapo Mountain, the historic Van Slyke Castle is steeped in mystery and local legend. In its heyday, the castle was a center of Oakland's social life, hosting wealthy guests from across the country. Today, it stands as a window into the past, a reminder of an era in which the town was home to one of the most exclusive inns in the area. The Van Slyke Castle's history dates back to the early 19th century. It was built by the wealthy merchant William Van Slyke in 1809. He had inherited the land from his father and decided to turn it into an impressive estate. The original structure was designed by the renowned architect Matthew Vassar and built from locally quarried granite. Van Slyke had the castle built to provide a luxurious retreat for his family and his wealthy guests. The castle was luxurious beyond compare, with seven levels, sprawling gardens, and several water towers. The castle's guests were entertained with lavish events held on its grounds. Learn more here.

In 1865, the castle passed into the hands of Augustus French, who ran it as a high-end inn. He added a marble-clad entrance and an opulent ballroom, making the castle a popular spot among the town's elite. The Van Slyke Castle was the site of many notable gatherings, including two meetings of the National Women's Rights Congress in the early 1890s. Over the years, the castle remained a popular venue for celebrations. Its opulent grounds hosted extravagant parties and social events for decades. However, by the 1940s, the castle's popularity had begun to decline. In 1945, the castle was sold, and most of its contents were auctioned off. For much of the 20th century, the castle fell into disrepair and became a curiosity for Oakland's residents, who often ventured up to the castle to see what remained of the once-grand estate. In recent years, the castle has been brought back to life and is now open to the public for tours. Learn more about Explore the Wonders of Darlington County Park in Oakland, NJ.