Danbury's Hearthstone Castle Getting a Facelift, Maybe More

The city is accepting bids on plans to stabilize the castle while they decide just how much to renovate it.

Hearthstone Castle, Danbury. Photo Credit: Friends of Tarrywile Park
Hearthstone Castle, Danbury. Photo Credit: Friends of Tarrywile Park
One of Connecticut’s oldest castles — behind Fort Trumbull (built 1839-52), and the Wadsworth Anthenuem Castle (1842) and Capitol Building in Hartford (1871-78) — Hearthstone Castle in Danbury is getting ready for the first stage of a much-needed makeover.

The city of Danbury has issued a request for proposals from engineering firms to draw up plans to stabilize the existing castle structure while the city, Tarrywile Park (where the castle is located) and Friends of Tarrywile Park decided what to do next.

The outer stone walls of the castle have stood firm since it was built in 1897, however the roof and internal wooden structure have collapsed down through the basement, according to Friends of Tarrywile Park Treasurer and enthusiastic supporter of Hearthstone Castle Mark Nolan.

Nolan, who lives nearby and walks the castle grounds daily, believes Hearthstone to be an integral part of Danbury’s (and Western Connecticut’s) cultural history, though it’s currently worn down and a fence bars entrance.

Read more about Hearthstone Castle’s origins and history here.

After a structural study was done on the castle in 2013, it was determined that the building could be structurally secured while the stakeholders decide on a full-scale renovation or just basic upkeep.

“The structure is not beyond repair,” Nolan said. “The engineers determined that it was worth stabilizing in its current state. Now we need a structural stabilization plan — a guide to how to stabilize the structure and keep it in place.”

Firms interested in designing that plan have until July 31 at 2 p.m. to submit their proposals and must be in attendance at a mandatory site visit on Thursday, July 10 (rain date July 14), beginning at 10 a.m. The city will not be accepting bids from firms that do not take the tour.

Get more information on the bid process, including full bid documents here and an addendum to the RFP here.

Depending on the design stage and bid process for the actual work, construction could begin as early as this fall.

“The short-term plan is to save what it is because it’s worth saving,” Nolan said.

Between state grants and a matching $25,000 from the city of Danbury, the Friends of Tarrywile have raised $95,000 toward the first phase of the restoration, though they have a long way to go.

Nolan estimates it will cost in the neighborhood of $500,000 to stabilize Hearthstone. Once that is accomplished, it will be up to the city, the park and the community to decide what to do with it.

The options range from “making it a functional facility or leaving it as a tourist attraction, or something in between,” he said.

The most expensive option currently on the table would turn the castle into a specialized teaching facility, with estimates for that cited at over $11 million.

No matter which way the renovation goes it will require help from the community.

The best way to support the restoration efforts is to contribute directly through the Friends of Tarrywile website, according to Nolan.

Either way, this is the most attention the haggard castle has gotten since it was purchased by the city in 1984, he said.

Should the castle be restored to working order or just stabilized? What would you like to see it used for?

Anita June 27, 2014 at 08:33 PM
Dear Patch, please hire someone to proofread and correct grammar in your articles. Thank you.


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