Kip's Castle Park
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Kip's Castle, is a 10-acre (40,000 m2) estate (8 acres in Verona, 2 acres (8,100 m2) in Montclair) on the ridge of First Mountain, on the border of Montclair and Verona townships. It contains a 9,000-square-foot (840 m2) mansion that replicates a medieval Norman castle, and a 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) two-story carriage house.
Initial plans for the estate include housing offices for the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs, Essex County Open Space Trust Fund, and Essex County Parks Foundation. However, the Castle's true purpose is to evolve into the County's premiere cultural resource center, supporting and promoting arts and culture throughout our region. Meeting space will be available for conservancies, community groups, and non-profit organizations. A calendar of ongoing educational programming will be developed, and museum space will be created to showcase the history of the Essex County Park System.
A twelve-member Advisory Board has been formed to provide recommendations about not only how to maintain and restore the estate, but also to develop ideas as to how this property can grow into a cultural asset for the community.
Kip's Castle, originally known as "Kypsburg," was constructed over a three-year period in the early 1900s by Frederic Ellsworth Kip and his wife, Charlotte Bishop Williams Kip. Frederic was a wealthy textile inventor and industrialist who also published several books related to United States tariff laws.
Charlotte is credited for the design of the "Kypsburg" building and grounds, cultivating an octagonal rose garden in the southwest corner of the property. After Charlotte's passing in 1926, the estate was sold and went through several owners, including Indian guru Osho in the 1980s, serving as a monastery.
The building and grounds fell into a state of dilapidation until the law firm of Schwartz, Tobia & Stanziale purchased the property in 1985. Up until 2005 a considerable amount of work was done to restore the Castle to its original grandeur. In the early 2000s, The lawfirm wanted to develop townhouses on the property, however, found itself in various legal complications and lawsuits with Verona, and in 2006, the property was placed on the market. As a result of grants from the NJ Green Acres Program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund, the County of Essex purchased Kip's Castle in March 2007. The property is now part of the historic Essex County Park System.
Offices for the County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs, the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Committee and Essex County Park Foundation will be located in the castle, which is also a meeting site for the twelve-member Kip's Castle Park Advisory Board appointed by the County Executive to provide guidance about the maintenance, restoration, activities, and growth of the facility as another asset for the Essex community. According to the county brochure, over time, Kip's Castle Park will become the County's premiere cultural resource center, supporting and promoting arts and culture throughout the region. Meeting space will be available for community groups, and non-profit organizations. A calendar of ongoing educational programming will be developed, and museum space will be created to showcase the history of the Essex County Park System.
- Geist, William E. (September 16, 1981). "Cult in Castle". New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2009. "Anand Sheela said the center had purchased the 64,228 acres for $6 million through contributions and sales of books and tapes of the Bhagwan's teachings by the Montclair center, which is the international distributor of the publications and the audio and video tapes. She said the center had also leased about 17,000 acres adjacent to the ranch."
- Discover a Landmark Treasure accessed August 8, 2007