The Castle, Marietta Ohio
Built in 1855 by Melvin C. Clarke, a prominent attorney and abolitionist, the Castle is a focal point in Marietta. Sitting atop the hill on Fourth Street, it has been home to some of the most influential citizens of Marietta. Today, the home is operated as a local history museum.
Backstory and Context
The Castle is an example of the Gothic Revival style. Special features of the house are the octagonal tower, a trefoil attic window, and stone capped spires. The front of the property is lined by a cut stone wall and a Victorian cast iron fence revealing a brick and stone sidewalk on an elevated terrace. The interior features a scagliola fireplace mantle, coodge paper-mache moldings, and floor to ceiling, self-storing shutters on the front bay window. The house was designed by John Slocomb, the architect of the Anchorage in Harmar Village and Henderson Hall in nearby West Virginia. Both the Anchorage and Henderson Hall are Italianate villas. Slocomb showcased his versatility and great range with the design of the Castle.
The oldest part of the Castle is the summer kitchen, which was built in 1830. The main house and the detached carriage house were built in 1855. The rooster weather vane on top of the carriage house is an original. The iron fence on the Fourth Street sidewalk also was installed to keep cows from wandering into the front yard.
Several citizens have called the Castle home. Melvin Clarke, a local attorney and abolitionist, began construction in 1855. It continued until 1858 when he sold the property for $2000. Later, he lost his life in the Civil War at Antietam. John Newton, agent for the Marietta Bucket Factory, purchased the home. He and his family enjoyed entertaining there for over twenty-five years. He later died in 1886, and the Castle was sold to Edward W. Nye. He was the publisher of The Marietta Gazette and only lived there a year before his death.
The house then passed on to his daughter, Lucy Nye Davis, who was married to Theodore Davis. He was elected to the 68th General Assembly as a State Senator. Her eldest daughter and heir, Jessie, was fourteen when her mother inherited the home. Jessie lived in the Castle until her death, five days before her 100th birthday in 1974. Because she never wanted to leave the house, her funeral was also at the Castle.
The Castle was then purchased by L. Stewart Bosley and his sister Dr. Bertlyn Bosley. They began a renovation project that lasted nearly two decades. The house was deeded to the Betsey Mills Corporation in 1992, "as an historical asset for the City of Marietta with such asset to be used for educational and public purposes." This was done after Stewart and Bertlyn Bosley died.
The Castle opened to the public in 1994. It is furnished with Victorian-era furniture and art. The Castle hosts musical events, workshops, lectures, and special programs for children and is open for tours. Also, several photos of the Castle before the renovations began are on display in the carriage house, which serves as a visitors' center and gift shop. Hours vary by season.
Sturtevant, Lynn. A Guide to Historic Marietta Ohio. Charleston, SC. The History Press, 2011.