Nestled in a quiet neighborhood less than half a mile away from I-5 and just a short drive from Tacoma, Washington lays a secret that few know about and even fewer get the chance to enjoy. It is a place of mystery, relaxation, glamour and celebrity. A place where Presidents and Movie Stars have come to rest and work, and where now the common folk can lay their heads down at night. Quietly situated on the shore of American Lake in Lakewood, Washington is Thornewood Castle Bed and Breakfast.
I visited this Bed and Breakfast for a quick getaway and discovered for myself the many faces of Thornewood Castle. Now that I’ve been, I have discovered more than one reason that you should go explore this Bed and Breakfast for yourself. Although the list of reasons for exploring this piece of American history is long, here are my top 5 reasons you should make a reservation.
1) Luxurious Accommodation
Immediately upon entering Thornewood Castle it is apparent that the original owner, Mr. Chester Thorne, spared no expense when constructing his home. The recent restoration of the Bed and Breakfast further drives home the point that all men should rest their heads in luxury. Beautiful carved woodwork, statues and antique furniture and many other details all meld together to create an environment that stimulates and brings peace to all five senses.
The entire castle is exquisitely decorated from the deep leather sofas to the plush bedding and centuries old stained glass windows. The owners have successfully melded modern convenience with vintage charm; upgrading rooms to include surround sound systems, televisions with cable access, WiFi access in the main hall and modern plumbing.
Although unmistakably lavish in its design and décor, Thornewood Castle is welcoming and comfortable throughout. Hidden details, such as three bathrooms hidden in the woodwork of the main hall, beckon the call for exploration; and mountainous furnishings with plump pillows and soft fabrics invite you to sit and rest a bit. Complete with a library, game room, a theater room and access to American Lake, Thornewood Castle is a Bed and Breakfast with more amenities than most motels and hotels we’ve visited.
2) Elegant Grounds and Architecture
If you are a gardener or architecture lover, Thornewood Castle has much for you to explore and enjoy as well. Surrounding the Bed and Breakfast are four acres of manicured landscape, including a sunken garden surrounded by brick walls in the style of a medieval fortress. Within the garden is an outdoor statuary, including both vintage stone statues and replicas indicative of what may have originally been placed in the garden. Hundreds of varieties of plants line the garden, and views of the home can be seen from between the entry doors or over the brick walls.
If the study of architecture is more your style (and especially if you would love to have a castle of your own), the house itself stands as a piece of art. The house was taken from fanciful dream to a reality by famed architect Kirtland Kelsey Cutter, noted as one of the most esteemed architects of the time. Made almost entirely of brick and mortar, the castle was built to withstand centuries of use. Built in the English Tudor style, the house spans over 27,000 square feet of living space and is one of very few genuine castles built in the United States. Constructed from 1908 to 1911, the home features sections of a castle and a mansion imported from overseas, including the main staircase which is over 500 years old, the external brick which came from Wales, and stained glass windows dating back as far as the 15th century.
3) Making The Movies Real
It is very rare that anyone outside of Hollywood gets to step onto the set of a movie, but this Bed and Breakfast offers you this opportunity as well. Starring as the haunted mansion in Stephen King’s miniseries “Rose Red”, Thornewood Castle became the focus of a group of ghost hunters who try to unravel the mystery surrounding the house and its previous residents.
In your time spent at the Bed and Breakfast, it is well worth taking a couple of hours to pour through the stacks of photos taken by the current owners during filming. Including photos of the home’s restoration, pictures of the various sets, actors and actresses, as well as scripts and shooting schedules, the collection of Rose Red movie memorabilia will keep any film buff entertained.
Also filmed at the Bed and Breakfast was the Prequel to “Rose Red”, a mini-series “The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer” based on the novel The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red written by Ridley Pearson under the aliases of Ellen Rimbauer and Joyce Reardon. Written as a promotional add-on to boost “Rose Red”, the diary style novel took on a life of its own as readers and film lovers sought to learn more about the mystery. Further photo albums are available to view showing images of the filming of this second mini-series where Thornewood Castle is the star.
4) Tracing The Steps Of History
If you are looking to learn more of the Northwest’s incredible history, Thornewood Castle Bed and Breakfast is a great place to visit to learn about how the West truly was won in the bustling ports and harbors. The home was built by Mr. Chester Thorne, who was one of the founding fathers of the Port of Tacoma.
Educated and working early on as an Engineer, Mr. Thorne eventually made his way from New York to Missouri and on to Washington State where he became involved in the growth of the National Bank of Commerce. At the young age of 30 he became elected President of the Bank, and dedicated the rest of his life to helping the bank, its investors and customers, and the community and commerce in the surrounding port to prosper and expand. Having a hand in many major corporations, groups and organization, he was a man who truly took it upon himself to make the Northwest and its ports what they are today.
In addition to Mr. Thorne’s deep and interesting history, his acclaim as a brilliant mind of the time and the comfort of his home afforded him guests to the house that any five star hotel would clamor to have. The bed and breakfast has a room called “The Presidential Suite” not because it is necessarily more grand or plush than any of the other luxuriously adorned suites, but because it is the room where President Theodore Roosevelt and President William Howard Taft laid their heads to rest when they visited the castle.
5) Dining Like Royalty
No Bed and Breakfast would be complete with out the morning meal, and Thornewood Castle does not skimp on the delicate beauty of the first meal of the day. Featuring seasonal fruits and local tastes, we enjoyed bountiful plates of fruit and baked eggs, blueberry yogurt with granola, tea served from a vintage tea-pot, orange juice as well as hot coffee. White table linens, gold edged plates and crystal glasses completed the feel of having breakfast with the Thornes and made the breakfast in their grand dining-hall even more memorable.
The fresh food and friendly staff make the breakfast experience one that is not soon forgotten, and while the general decadence of the table settings and the craftsmanship of the hall begs feelings of resolute properness, the simplicity of the meal allows diners to savor every taste.
While often times we hear the words “Bed and Breakfast” and feel that we will be staying under the watchful gaze of a couple concerned with the strangers in their house, Thornewood Castle Bed and Breakfast and its keepers bring a whole new dimension to the concept. The quietness of the home and surrounding property, the intricate level of detail in every stone and statue, as well as the friendliness of the owners and staff make one wish that they could stay within the castle for a lifetime. We will certainly return to Thornewood Castle Bed and Breakfast, and urge you to do so as well.
Sources: www.ThornewoodCastle.com, as well as information gathered during our stay at the castle from the owners, available albums and reading materials.