THE DUNDAS CASTLE
The original ownership of this real estate has been traced back to a man named Joe Cammer.
In 1887, B. L. Gilbert brought all of Joe Cammer’s farm. This farm, with the exception of three acres, was sold in 1903 to a man named Sternback. In 1916 the remaining three acres were sold to Ralph Werts Dundas. Sternbach was supposed to have gone bankrupt in the stock market crash in 1929 and Dundas gained his land. This added land brought the total acreage up to approximately 964 acres.
Other than the fact that Ralph Dundas had great wealth, he was not a well-known man. To the people that had made his aquaintance they thought of him as being generous, quiet, and retiring. Many felt that his estate in Craige-E-Clare reflected his personality in every way.
Mr. Dundas had estates in Bass Rock, Gloucester, Massachusetts, and a twin estate in Baltimore County, Maryland.
Dundas was a native of Scotland. He was a Baron, but he seldom used this title. The estate Dundas had built in Craig-E-Clare is a replica of one in Scotland. He liked this castle very much and he went to great steps to create a home with the same likenesses. Mr. Dundas liked expensive materials. He had the means by which to obtain them, as he was rated the third richest man in America.
The exact date as to when the castle was started is not precise. One source states that construction began in 1910, while another states it began somewhere between 1913 and 1914. An unmarked source said eight years of labor went into creating the castle. The “Record” states that all construction stopped in 1917 when Dundas died. Combining these two statements, a third date has been established sometime in 1909.
Frank Pomeroy, of Bass Rocks, Massachusetts, was contracted by Dundas to build the castle in Craig-E-Clare.
Again there is a dispute in the records because the “Record” stated that he contracted a group of Scandinavians and the only American laborers were a plumber and an electrician. Mrs. Betty Ziere said a group of stone masons were imported from Lanesville, Massachusetts. In a letter from Mrs. Albee she mentioned there were a group of stone masons, imported to assemble the marble.
The only native product used in the construction of the castle was the stone from the Beaverkill River. Some other products imported were as follows:
- Over fifteen tons of roofing slated from England.
- The marble for floors, fireplace, and staircases from Italy.
- Thirty-six pine trees from Belgium.
- Iron gates from France.
In 1910, the fireplace in the reception room was valued at over five thousand dollars. Instead of paint, gold leaf was used to cover it. The fireplace was located in the main dining room. It took four years to complete and it is a replica of the “Vines of the Madonna.”
Doorknobs, hinges, and lighting fixtures were all hand shaped silver. The lighting fixtures were designed from the Scottish Thistle and English Four Roses.
The towers and windows reflect the Gothic style of the eighteenth century.
At the time of Dundas’ death, he had spent over five-hundred-thousand dollars on the castle. Although the entire castle was not completed, enough had been finished so that Dundas could live in the main part of the castle and this part was furnished. A close look at parts of the castle walls will show where cement blocks were used to fill in the incomplete parts.
When Dundas died, he left his estates to his daughter, the former Muriel H. Wurts-Dundas. Dundas was married to Plula Lippincoff, of the Lippincoff Publishing Company, but there was no information regarding her life or death available.
Dundas left forty-four million dollars to his daughter. The young heiress and her husband were on the other side of the Atlantic when World War I started and they weren’t able to get out of England to claim the inheritance.
Muriel was married in 1930, during the month of July, to Mr. James R. Herbert Boone. Some of Mr. Boone’s ancestors included Pocahontas, Daniel Boone, George Calvert, and the first Lord Baltimore. The Boone family attracted world-wide attention when Mr. Boone was head of an expedition in search of the missing treasure of King John.
The Dundas family also owned an apartment in New York City. Mrs. Boone requested that this Fifth Avenue apartment be kept open, for sentimental reasons. After she had been ruled mentally incompetent by London Psychiatrists, a special committee was set up to manager her financial affairs. The smallest details were taken care of by the committee, including an allotment for Christmas gratuities for the handy man and elevator operator. “From February 23 to December 31, 1944, the apartment was maintained at a cost of ten-thousand, one-hundred and six dollars and eighty-seven cents.
In 1949, the Prince Hall Temple Association purchased the Dundas Castle and the surrounding property and turned it into a Masonic Retreat for its members.