We recently delved into the history behind one of the North of Boston’s 4 castles: Herreshoff Castle in Marblehead – an imposing structure inspired by Erik the Red’s Greenland castle and built in the 1920s. Did you know, though, that nearly 40 years earlier another castle was built on the opposite side of the region in Haverhill?
Winnekenni Park sits atop a hill off of Kenoza Ave in Haverhill which looks over the scenic Kenoza Lake and Basin. The winding road leading to the park will bring you to a strange sight indeed – a medieval castle. In 1861, chemist, agriculturist, and future-castle enthusiast Dr. James Nichols purchased the Darling Farm (now known as Winnekenni Park). After an 1870s visit to England, Nichols (much like Waldo Ballard a few decades later) became enamored of the country’s large stone castles and was determined to build on of his own. He wanted to use the many boulders and rocks native to Haverhill and, in 1873, construction of his castle began.
Upon completion in 1875, Nichols christened his summer home “Winnekenni Castle” (after the Algonquin word meaning “beautiful”). The castle was, and still is, beautiful and is complemented by its lush surroundings. On a clear day, one is even able to see 17 towns, 3 counties, 3 states, 2 mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean from the rooftop. Not bad for a simple English-inspired summer home.
Nichols lived in the castle for 10 years before selling the castle and its 27 acres of land to a cousin. Nichols was in poor health and, we assume, unable to look after such a large property. The castle and land were then sold to its current owner, the city of Haverhill, in 1895 when it became Haverhill’s first public park Today, Winnekenni Castle is a popular destination for photographers and castle buffs. Throughout the year, many concerts, fairs, parties, fundraisers, and other such events are held at the castle. The castle is also available for private events such as meetings, family gatherings, and weddings. The trails throughout the property are fantastic for snowshoeing, hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing around Kenoza Lake.