Carcassonne Castle

Coordinates: 42°29′57.4″N 70°50′5.9″W / 42.499278°N 70.834972°W / 42.499278; -70.834972
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carcassonne Castle is a residence in Marblehead, Massachusetts, United States. It was completed in 1935 for Aroline Gove, daughter of Lydia Pinkham. During the 1970s and 80s it was owned by George A. Butler, who held glitzy parties in the three-story, 23-room granite castle.


Construction on Carcassonne took place during The Great Depression. Granite was hauled from the South Shore, wood was imported from Australia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Africa, and marble was brought in from around the world. The cost of construction was $500,000. Gove received a commendation from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for putting many unemployed craftsmen to work.[1] Carcassonne was built by Gourdeau Construction Co. of Hamilton, Massachusetts.[2]


Carcassonne has a tri-level symmetrical floor plan designed around a central circular tower.[3] It has 23 rooms and 11 baths, almost all of them have an ocean view.[4] It includes seven fireplaces and a salt-water pool.[5] It is located on 2.5 acres, which includes 307 feet of ocean beachfront.[3] Gove purchased 25,000 plants for the landscaping, however she insisted on not planting any high shrubbery or trees in order not to obstruct the public's view of the Carcassonne or the ocean.[6]


Guido Rugo[edit]

Gove died in 1939 and Carcassonne was inherited by her daughter, Lydia Pinkham Gove.[7] On August 15, 1949, Guido Rugo purchased Carcassonne from the estate of Lydia Pinkham Gove for $50,000.[8] In 1954, the Rugos hosted 500 guests for Archbishop Richard J. Cushing's 59th birthday.[9] In 1964, the Rugos sold the house to attorney Robert J. DiGiacomo and his wife who sold it in 1966 to James Zografos, who sold it to Butler in 1973.

George A. Butler[edit]

In 1972, George A. Butler, the New England distributor of Toyota automobiles, purchased Carcassonne. He decorated the castle with a number of unique objects, including a jewelry case made out of an ostrich egg, an impala skeleton, and a painting of Muhammad Ali inscribed by the boxer.[10] Butler also had a private helipad, a small theater, and four tiers of gardens.[11] Butler hosted a number of benefit parties at Carcassonne for the Boston Children's Hospital and his other favorite charities.[10] Carcassonne's annual benefit for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, known as "Pique-Nique au Bord de Mer" (picnic by the sea), drew a number of famous guests, including Joan Kennedy, John Havlicek, Mike Eruzione, Francis X. Bellotti, Frank Avruch, Tom Ellis, Don Gillis, and Thomas P. O'Neill III. Peter Duchin performed at the 1980 event.[11] He also hosted fundraisers for the Massachusetts Democratic Party.[12] Butler sold Carcassonne in 1982. He stated that he decided to sell the home because its dampness aggravated his asthma and its small windows obstructed his view of the ocean. Butler and his wife moved into smaller home three doors down from Carcassonne.[13]

Later ownership[edit]

Condominium developer William Lilly purchased Carcassonne from Butler for $1 million.[13] In 1991, the property was foreclosed on by 1st American Bank for Savings.[3] It was sold by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation at a sealed-bid auction.[5] The minimum bid was $1.53 million. At the time, Carcassonne was assessed at $3.4 million.[3] In 1992, Carcassonne's new owners, the Gianatasio family, gave the mansion an extensive makeover.[4][14]


  1. ^ Tischler, Linda (November 8, 1992). "Behind the Castle Walls". Boston Herald.
  2. ^ "Henry Gourdeau, 90; Founded Construction Firm". The Boston Globe. February 25, 1988.
  3. ^ a b c d Carroll, Matt; Ackerman, Jerry (May 19, 1991). "Lots & Blocks". The Boston Globe.
  4. ^ a b Miller, Margo (October 22, 1992). "Dazzling design in a grand house by the sea". The Boston Globe.
  5. ^ a b Callaway, David (November 5, 1991). "Lilly gets five years, must pay $5M to feds". Boston Herald.
  6. ^ "25,000 Plants for Garden of Big $1,000,000 Estate". The Boston Daily Globe. July 14, 1935.
  7. ^ "Mrs. Aroline Gove, Lydia Pinkham's Daughter, Dead". The Boston Daily Globe. May 22, 1939.
  8. ^ "Pinkham Home at Marblehead Sold to Rugo". The Boston Daily Globe. August 16, 1949.
  9. ^ "Archbishop to Announce North Shore Project at His 59th Birthday Reception". The Boston Daily Globe. August 22, 1954.
  10. ^ a b "George A. Butler, Toyota tycoon who gave grand parties". The Boston Globe. March 1, 1997.
  11. ^ a b Fripp, Bill (September 16, 1980). "A 'Butleresque' Evening Benefits Boston Children". The Boston Globe.
  12. ^ Healy, Robert (June 29, 1977). "Belotti is Gearing up for a Campaign". The Boston Daily Globe.
  13. ^ a b Fripp, Bill (April 16, 1982). "A millionaire moves out of his mansion". The Boston Globe.
  14. ^ Bisbee, Dana (October 26, 1992). "Renowned Mansion Gets Makeover". Boston Herald.

42°29′57.4″N 70°50′5.9″W / 42.499278°N 70.834972°W / 42.499278; -70.834972