A Closer Look at Hammond Castle Museum.
Gloucester is one of Massachusetts’ best-kept secrets.
The picturesque coastal town is home to lovely hikes, an active fishing community, rocky beaches, and beautiful places to stay.
Nestled in the Magnolia area of Gloucester is a sweeping enclave known as Hammond Castle. The estate, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and a rich history that visitors won’t want to miss.
We’ll touch on the history of the property shortly. In the meantime, be sure to add 80 Hesperus Avenue to your travel itinerary.
Built between 1926 and 1929, Hammond Castle was the home and laboratory of renowned inventor John Hays Hammond, Jr. The famed Gloucester resident—a protégé of Alexander Graham Bell—held over 800 patents on more than 400 inventions during his lifetime. Known as the “Father of Radio Control,” Hammond’s inventions gave him the means to construct one of Cape Ann’s most treasured places.
Hammond engaged Boston-based architectural firm Allen & Collens to design his dream residence, sparing no expense. Originally, the castle was going to be a tower built on Hammond’s father’s Lookout Hill compound about a mile away. He changed his mind a year later, requesting a modest redesign that would reduce the height and overall footprint of the tower, while maintaining the structure’s style.
Though today Hammond Castle is a medieval wonder, the building process was rife with roadblocks. At one point, Hammond’s parents demanded he leave their property. The inventor responded by purchasing a brand-new lot near Norman’s Woe reef, making the final castle the product of yet another redesign.
While the exterior of the castle consists of granite mined from Cape Ann hillsides, the interior features remarkable windows and doorways imported from European castles and churches. Visitors will find a drawbridge, a library, a pipe organ, and so much more.
Hammond lived on the property until his death in 1965. Today Hammond Castle doubles as an event venue and a museum, with the lovely interior filled with the inventor’s extensive collection of Renaissance artwork and ancient artifacts. The manicured grounds are gorgeous and well worth the visit.
Today visitors can explore the expansive Hammond Castle Museum, touring the property’s rooms and wandering the stunning castle grounds. The views of the shoreline are second-to-none, not to mention accessible to the general public.
The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. from June through September (and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in October and May). In November, December, and April, the museum is open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
With both guided and self-guided tours available, Hammond Castle is well worth a visit at any time of year. The price of admission is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for children. Kids under 4 may enter for free. The museum isn’t ADA-accessible at this time, as it can be challenging to renovate places on the national preservation list.
The towering castle stands 81 feet tall, with a remarkable footprint of 142-by-70 feet.
Special Guided Tours in Gloucester
Interested in taking your Hammond Castle visit to the next level? Consider one of the following special tours for an in-depth take on the history of the property:
• Spiritualism Tours
On Thursday evenings during the summer through Halloween, visitors can experience the American Spiritual Movement of the late 29th and early 20th centuries. John Hays Hammond, Jr. and his wife Irene were pioneers of the movement. Why not celebrate their interests with an interactive tour featuring spirit photography, séances, and ESP?
• Candlelight Tours
John Hays Hammond, Jr. was something of a night owl. The inventor preferred to work through most evenings and sleep during the day. To honor his legacy, the museum offers guided Candlelight Tours on Thursday nights through the end of September and in December. Visitors can experience the castle the same way Hammond did.
• Cape Ann Picnics
In the summer, visitors who have tickets for a Candlelight or Spiritualism Tour may sit down for a “carry-in, carry-out” picnic on the lawn of the estate an hour before their program begins. The oceanfront scenery is well worth the extra planning involved—there’s no way you’ll forget the scenic views of Gloucester and the surrounding area.
• Arms and Armors Tours
Hammond didn’t collect medieval weapons personally. However, given the castle’s medieval inspiration, visitors can still come in and enjoy an hour-long program on all things arms and armor. If you are interested in swords, crossbows, and battle axes, Hammond Castle Museum has you covered with a very special tour.
A reminder that self-guided tours are available as well. Click here for more information.
Schools on Cape Ann and throughout Massachusetts visit Hammond Castle on a regular basis. Educators should expect to stay on the property for 90 minutes to two hours. They can tailor the content of the tour upon request, based on students’ needs, interests, and ability levels.
Hammond Castle also offers STEM tours on request. Hammond himself was an inventor, making him the perfect subject of an engaging, still-relevant lesson in science, math, and engineering.
The STEM tour describes Hammond’s life and inventions, all while describing the patent process and the castle itself. Students who are interested in music, architecture, sound reproduction, radio dynamics, and military inventions will love this unique educational program.
Weddings and Corporate Events
Both locals and visitors to Cape Ann plan weddings, private parties, and corporate events at Hammond Castle. With the stunning interior, captivating exterior, and lush grounds, it’s no wonder the venue has become so popular.
Interested parties can choose from a number of packages to plan their special day. Family reunions, bar and bat mitvahs, and baby showers are just some of the events Hammond Castle has hosted before.
In addition, the property offers corporate events designed with your company’s goals in mind. Hammond Castle will include tours and team-building exercises for internal gatherings, or make catering arrangements perfect for entertaining clients.
Capacity is somewhat flexible. The indoor Great Hall seats up to 90 people, while the Ocean-Facing Lawn can accommodate up to 120 guests.
To visit Hammond Castle from Boston, take I-95 North to Exit 45. From there, route 128 North will carry you through to Exit 14.
Travelers can then turn right onto Route 133, approaching the ocean before making another right onto Route 127. At this point, you’ll want to continue nearly a mile from that intersection, at which point the road will start to narrow.
And there you have it: A blue-and-white sign on your left will lead you right to Hammond Castle. Turn onto Hesperus Avenue in Gloucester, park in the lot off the street, and take the stairs to the entrance.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the towering property and surrounding gardens.
Ready to plan your visit to Coastal New England? Be sure to include Cape Ann in your plans, and visit the architectural wonder that is Hammond Castle during your stay.
Steeped in history, it’s the perfect venue for an immersive, memorable experience. Our team here at Addison Choate will gladly answer any questions you may have. From dining and shopping, to hiking and boating, we’ll help you curate the experience of a lifetime.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or for more information.