Help Wanted: Please Help Me Identify a Silent Location on the American East Coast

As you know, I’ve been working to get the 1917 version of Kidnapped released on DVD. My latest shipment of footage included an exterior shot that has made me very curious. Just where is this mysterious castle?

This castle is clearly not a set or a miniature, it’s a solid piece of stone and mortar. It likely would be located in the New York/New Jersey area (Edison productions were creative and well-made but not lavish).

Alas, the area is packed silly with castles. Normally, this would be a wonderful problem but it does rather crowd the suspects list. Also, the castle is show at a fair distance, we don’t get any drone shots (wouldn’t early filmmakers have loved drones?) or anything more than the castle as a backdrop.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

I’ve been asking around social media and have had many excellent responses from generous film buffs. Here are some suggested locations in the New York/New Jersey area:

Glen Island Castle, New Rochelle

Singer Castle on Dark Island

Tarrytown, New York Castle

Iviswold Castle, Rutherford

Belvedere Castle in Central Park

Lambert Castle, Paterson

There are many possibilities but I am still not 100% certain about any of them. Some factors:

Terrain: the film was shot somewhere hilly and with a fair amount of acreage between the main gate and the castle.

Flora: the film was shot in an area that seems to have mostly deciduous trees.

The castle has at least one tower with a pointy roof (aren’t we technical?), one turret and is located near a body of water.

Anyway, please give this your best guess. I truly appreciate your help!

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18 Replies to “Help Wanted: Please Help Me Identify a Silent Location on the American East Coast”

  1. I am pretty certain it is NOT Belvedere Castle in NYC’s Central Park. The body of water is wrong, and the castle itself in the photos doesn’t resemble, on whole, Belvedere. Sorry to not be able to pin the castle down, but I can run out one suggestion. Good luck!

  2. Check out Bannerman Castle on a small island on the Hudson between Beacon & Cold Spring, New York. Built to resemble a castle but used as an armory.
    Luanne Morse
    Host of the Butterfield Library’s Silent Film series featuring live musical accompaniment by Cary Brown

  3. I’ve looked at all of the castles suggested so far, and I don’t believe any of them are a match. Something interesting: I think the castle in the third photo is not the same one seen in the first two photos. The first castle is dominated by a crenulated tower, and we can see it from two different sides. The castle in the third picture is dominated by the tower with a pointed roof. The first castle sits at or very near the top of the hill, while a steep hill rises behind the castle in the third photo. Having said this, I’ve looked and haven’t yet found a match for either castle. Interesting mystery!

  4. This is tough without viewing the film (yes, I can hardly wait for its unveiling!).
    I was voting for Singer Castle until that still revealing what appears to be an expansive area from a gate to the castle. Perspectives can be forced on film (angled shooting uphill or downhill, for instance), but in this case……hmmmmm.

    At least Singer Castle does have the “body of water” part down pat, since it’s on one of the Thousand Islands 😉

  5. I agree that the third castle is a different castle.The first two pics look a lot like Kip’s castle to me, built on a ridge on First Mountain between Verona and Montclair townships in New Jersey between 1902 and 1905. The slope and the grounds match up, as well as the Norman tower, crenelated wall, and “pile-up” look of the castle.

    You’ll find a striking resemblance in a google search.

  6. My ‘gut’ reaction…just looks like Tarrytown/Hudson Valley to me. Maybe a one-time abbey or seminary, or a wealthy family’s ‘dream castle,’ probably torn down long ago? Would the National Trust for Historic Preservation be able to help, since they keep a ‘census’ of historic properties preserved or demolished?

  7. Another possibility…?

    Rather than travel any real distance, perhaps the Kidnapped location crew shot the castle exteriors no further away than upper Manhattan, some combination of Paterno Castle and Libbey Castle, for instance. The period photos of these castles and locales look similar to the stills and would have been for all intents and purposes local, fitting in with the creative, “not lavish” aspect of Edison film budgets.

  8. Nice match-up on the mock-up! Libbey Castle, isn’t it, and Paterno Castle (alas, no longer extant) had the requisite witch’s hat turret, as perhaps others in the upper Manhattan area did.

    Why go far afield, thinks the Edison crew, when we’ve got castles aplenty practically in our back yard!

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