The Dundas Castle, sometimes called the Craig-E Clair Castle, is an abandoned, medieval stone castle-style mansion located in Roscoe, New York. Originally home to a summer lodge built by Bradford Lee Gilbert in the early 1880s, the land was sold in 1911 after Gilbert passed away. In 1915, Ralph Wurts-Dundas acquired the property and began to construct his castle, but he died in 1921 before it was completed. In 1922, Dundas’s wife was committed to a sanatarium and following a series of misfortunes the couple’s only daughter, Muriel Harmer Wurts-Dundas, was committed as well. No Dundas ever got the chance to live in their eponymous castle.
The property cycled through a variety of uses, including serving as host for a children’s summer camp, before it was purchased by a group of Masons to use as a retreat. Although the Masons still own the castle, it currently sits empty, with open windows and peeling paint, vulnerable to the destructive nature of the elements and local vandals.
The Dundas Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. There is a main access road to the castle but there is a private house near the entrance and its inhabitants are not amenable to visitors. The property is also accessible by parking on a side road and hiking up a steep hill, but I’d caution against actually trying to get inside of the house (I’ve never tried so hard to get inside a structure with so little payoff).
The draw of a grand, fairytale-like castle rotting away in the woods is obvious, and despite the abundant ‘no trespassing’ signs this is definitely the most popular of all the abandoned buildings I’ve visited. There were several other couples and groups of people exploring in and out of the house while we were there, silently acknowledging each other as we explored various points of entry. Despite—or perhaps because of—its popularity, the castle appeared to be newly secured, complete with security cameras, several satellite dishes and what appeared to be a working internet router in one of the empty rooms.
Because I was sure that we were being monitored, we didn’t spend too much time inside of the castle. The bones of the house have some interesting architectural details (I love those arched doorways), but because it was never properly inhabited the interior isn’t as interesting as I had hoped. Picking through the stuff left behind is my favorite part of exploring abandoned spaces, but there isn’t much here besides fixtures such as radiators, bathtubs and a cast iron stove.