Gillete Castle is a former estate of the Astor family, located in Northfield, Connecticut. The castle was built as a summer home by John Alden and his wife, Mary, between 1895 and 1900 for their three children, Mary, Jane and Philip, along with Mr. and Mrs. Cottle. It remained in near continuous use by the Astors until 1941 when it was given to the state.
In 1969, it became a part of Connecticut’s first park, named after its most famous resident, Elizabeth “Liz” Taylor (daughter of Richard H. Tillinghast). Gillete Castle is currently operated by the Town of Northfield under an agreement with the State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It can be rented for overnight stays or used as a venue for family events such as weddings and birthday parties. There are picnic tables on site, but no grills. No alcoholic beverages, glassware, kites, drones, fireworks or hunting are permitted. Pets are not allowed due to health regulations. The parking fee is $8/car per night. A permit is required for 3 or more cars per vehicle. Reservations are recommended.
The park accepts credit cards through the reservation system. Parking fees are waived for those who have received permits from the park office. For groups needing multiple passes, there is a group reservation facility available. The park has added a new feature to its camping facilities, Camp Aurora. Located off Route 109, one mile north of the town center, this modern campground features 50 tent sites, 10 leantos, 2 yurts, flush toilets, hot showers, playgrounds, basketball courts, horseshoe courts, volleyball net, tether and ladder ball. Half of the campsites are open year-round, while others close during winter months.
To help fund a backlog of deferred maintenance and park improvements, the state implemented an entrance fee for this park and 21. The fees, charged per vehicle, start at $10 per day for a single-day or $8 for residents with an annual pass. Fees are waived for honorably discharged veterans and Connecticut residents age 62 & older and their spouses. Passes good for three days or a week are also available; annual passes good at all 22 state parks charging fees are offered at a cost of $75 for out-of-state visitors or $60 for Connecticut residents.