Bancroft Tower.

Bancroft Tower - Castle-Lite

Field review by the editors.

Worcester, Massachusetts

Before visiting we'd referred to this as the "2-D castle," because of its appearance in photos as a full-fledged fortress from the front, and a Hollywood back-lot faade from the side. Turns out it does have a third dimension, but is still a unique medieval-esque cutout.

The Bancroft Tower stands peacefully atop a hill, encircled by trees, wildlife, and affluent homes. It was not built by lost Vikings but by Stephen Salisbury III, the son of a railroad baron and "the richest man in Worcester by far, no heirs, no wife," according to neighbor out for a solitary walk. The tower went up in 1900 as a tribute to Worcester native George Bancroft, who as Secretary of War was partly responsible for the U.S. land grab of California, Texas, and the Pacific Northwest. He also delivered the eulogy at Lincoln's funeral.

Castle room seen from under arch.
From beneath the arch, the castle clearly has a 3rd -- gated -- dimension.

But Salisbury didn't care much about that, and built the Tower only because Bancroft and his dad had been childhood chums. "I think he was just trying to use up his money," our local source said.

The Tower is like a portcullis without a castle. Built of boulders and cobblestones, it stands 56 feet tall and encloses a series of empty rooms. Visitors could originally climb its spiral staircase as a lazy-Sunday-afternoon lookout tower with a 360-degree view of Worcester.

The city still uses it as a haunted house for Halloween, and during the holiday season Santa sometimes takes up residence next to the fireplace, according to the neighbor. But most of the time the Tower is locked. "Somebody went all the way up to the very top and jumped or fell, then sued the city."

Outlying castle structure.

Still, the exterior of the Tower makes an excellent backdrop for those who want to stage photos in front of their "castle."

Salisbury built two other, slightly smaller towers on other hilltops in town -- memorials to other people that he liked -- but one eventually collapsed and the other was destroyed by lightning. This one, however, has survived in decent shape.

Bancroft Tower - Castle-Lite

Address:
Bancroft Tower Rd, Worcester, MA
Directions:
I-290 exit 17. Take Highland St. to Park Ave., turn right. Left on Salisbury St. Go through the light at Park Ave., then take the second left onto Massachusetts Ave. Go through the stop sign and as you go up the hill turn right onto Bancroft Tower Rd. The Tower is at the top.
Admission:
Free.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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October 31, 2014

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