Historic Saybrook Sign Returns Home
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In this case, the trash became the Old Saybrook Historical Society’s treasure. Before that, it was Barbara Brown’s treasure, and soon it will be treasured by the Cornfield Point Association, where it will be on loan.
Brown salvaged the pictured sign from a Dumpster adjacent to the Castle Inn in the late 1980s when she lived next door. When she moved to Wisconsin in 1996, the movers packed up everything in her garage, and somewhat to her surprise, the sign was included. When her daughter decided it would not fit comfortably into her new home, Brown decided to see if anyone on Craigslist might want it.
Several interested Old Saybrook residents responded, but the Cornfield Point Association and the Old Saybrook Historical Society were Brown’s preferred choices. She decided to give it to the Historical Society. Luckily for all involved, Brown had a friend with an RV who was driving from Wisconsin back to Connecticut. He kindly packed up the sign and drove it back home.
Many shoreline residents have fond memories of the Castle Inn. From high school proms to wedding receptions, the “Castle” served as an elegant venue for numerous special occasions. It was built on 600 Cornfield Point acres sometime between 1903 and 1908 as a single-family home the owners named Hartlands.
In 1923, three years into prohibition, it was sold to Margaret and Otto Lindbergh (aunt and uncle of Charles Lindbergh) and turned into an elegant hotel they called Ye Castle Inn.
Rum-running and bootlegging stories are as numerous as the names of notable guests: Howard Hughes, the Rockefellers, Ethyl Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Charlie Chaplin, Doris Day, and Frank Sinatra to name a few. Some were visiting the Ivoryton Playhouse. Some were visiting Katharine Hepburn.
In the 1950s the inn was called The Inn at Cornfield Point. In the 1960s it was known as The Castle Hotel. Subsequent owners named it The Castle Inn.
When the inn finally closed in 1999, it was used only as a restaurant and banquet facility. It remained abandoned for eight years. The mansion was then bought and finally, after 100 years, was ultimately restored to its original glory as a private home.
For a full history and photographs of The Castle Inn and its owners, visit saybrookhistory.org/castle-inn-history.