Colonel Samuel Taylor Suit of Suitland, Maryland, built Berkeley Castle as a summer cottage for his young bride, Rosa Pelham. The daughter of an Alabama congressman, Rosa was less than half Suit’s age when they married. Construction began on the Morgan County landmark in 1885; Suit never lived to see it finished.
Perched on Warm Springs Ridge overlooking Berkeley Springs, Suit’s cottage was the most extravagant example of the town’s Victorian building boom. Famous for sophisticated friends and gala parties, Rosa eventually lost the castle to debt. She was forced out in 1902, returned in 1909, and lost the place permanently within a few years more. Since then, Berkeley Castle has gone through several hands.
Built of local stone, the castle has 13 rooms plus a basement. The great hall has a high ceiling, hardwood floor, and stone fireplaces at each end. A pine-paneled dining room on the main floor also has a fireplace. A wide stairway curves up to second-floor bedrooms and a paneled library. A narrow staircase leads to the turreted rooftop trimmed with crenelated battlements and offering a fabulous view of the town. Three crosses are sunk into the stone walls of the castle’s three-story tower. State Route 9 now cuts through the castle property; a stone gate tower is stranded on the opposite side of the highway. Berkeley Castle is on the National Register of Historic Places.
This Article was written by Jeanne Mozier
Last Revised on December 22, 2010
Newbraugh, Fred. Berkeley Castle. Shippensburg, PA: Beidle Printing House, 1988.