The recent announcement that Mac-O-Chee Castle would be sold at auction this fall sent me on a quick trip north to visit both of the Piatt Castles last weekend. I’ve wanted to see them for years but just never made it a priority.
So I hit the road early Saturday morning to be at Mac-O-Chee when they opened, hoping to beat the crowd. It worked like a charm as I was the only person in the building for a while, giving me the quiet to take pictures and contemplate what this incredible building was like a hundred years ago.
Both castles are beautiful in their own way and both have a rich history that is really too much to cover here. So I’m just going to focus on my overall impressions of Mac-O-Chee Castle with the hopes that you’ll go visit before it’s too late or at least use the trusty internet to learn more on your own.
Of the two castles, I loved Mac-O-Chee the best. It has amazing character, craftsmanship and attention to detail that you simply don’t find often. The obvious charm comes from stunningly beautiful woodwork and gorgeous ceiling murals throughout the house.
However, the things I liked best were the details – hand painted tile around the fireplaces, the intricate designs of door hinges and the surprisingly beautiful design of a third floor skylight. I loved the natural light that brightens the first floor library and the built-in file drawers found in the wall of this room.
That skylight I mentioned was designed to shine down through a window near the floor so that it can illuminate a stairwell. A small chapel in one tower room also enjoys soft morning light that lends this room a kind of spirituality that I’ve experienced in no church.
The grounds here are peaceful despite proximity to the highway. I can see why the Piatts chose this place.
Unfortunately, the Piatts who built this castle didn’t live in it for very long and the home changed hands several times over the years before being regained by the family. Original furnishings are long gone and upkeep wasn’t the best for some time.
I think that it has become something of a liability for the owners as deterioration is accelerating with each passing year. Everything here needs attention from the roof to the foundation. It literally leaks and floods and would need tons of expensive work.
It would make an amazing bed and breakfast but the electric needs updated and there are no bathrooms with plumbing here. Construction finished in 1879 and the wash closets, while innovative for the time, are not appropriate for modern usage.
My friends, I must confess that the imagination runs wild in this place while the realist in me says this castle would bankrupt a millionaire.
The house will sell at auction in October and there’s no telling what the future holds but my guess is that it will no longer be available to the public. This makes me sad for all of us who love history and great old structures.
In summary- Mac-O-Chee Castle is amazing and you better find yourself there quickly if you want a glimpse inside. Want to learn more? I really hope you’ll visit!