Berne Local

Cassidy's Castle - a place for dreams

Altamont Enterprise – April 22, 2004

 From the historian's desk
By Alice Begley

There are castles in Spain, Ireland, England, Wales, and many other European countries but did you know that "up the hill" from the village of Altamont a castle was built in the 1890's. Cassidy's Castle was designed by Edward R. Cassidy, an Albany architect, who built the castle on the highest part of his estate.

Cassidy went to France during the 1890's to study art. Upon his return, he consulted contractor George Weaver and the plan was finalized to build the castle-like structure on Old Stage Road above Altamont. Oriskany stone was used and Cassidy brought an entire square acre of land to assure he had enough to finish the imposing structure.

When completed, the castle has a Norman arch doorway and glass-enclosed turret. The castle of ancient stone became known from coast to coast. A small tourist hotel was built on the side of the mountain for the guests who came to participate in weekend gamecock matches that flourished during that era. The estate also had a quarter-mile enclosed racetrack where Cassidy trained his colts.

But the festive life up in the castle on the hill ended when Cassidy decided to return to France. It was sold and at first became Camp Pinnacle, a vacation place for young ladies. Later, several acres of the estate were transferred to the Salvation Army during the 1940's. It then became a fresh-air camp for boys.

An old photograph album was donated to the Altamont Museum. The cover reads "Altamont Aug. 5th-17h, 1912." It contains wonderful nearly 100-year-old black and white pictures of the camp on the hill donated by the three women whose mother had attended the camp many years earlier.

Inside the cover reads, "This photo album was made by Anna Marie Hoagland of North Plainfield, N.J. when she attended the Altamont camp with a group of young ladies in 1912 and again in 1915....This album is donated to the Altamont Historical Association Museum in loving memory of Mother by her daughters, Minna, Mary Alice and Elinor, Oct. 3, 1995." The images depict a tale and life in a world many years gone by.

In their note, the daughters wrote that their mother came to the Altamont camp with a group of YWCA girls from Plainfield by the Hudson River Day boat. She told them how she got sunburned when she put her "traveling straw hat" up in the loft of the camp and it was chewed by animals.

Cassidy Castle was torn down, date unknown. Mr. Cassidy is believed to be the son of Mrs. Lucy Cassidy who built the first St. Lucy's Chapel and was instrumental in the name change of the village from Knowersville to Altamont.

Altamont Enterprise – April 22, 2004