Thornewood Castle: beautiful, grand, and haunted.
Photo courtesy of

The Thornewood Castle, in Lakewood, Washington, boasts of a rich history and haunting past. Chester Thorne, one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma and Mount Rainier Park, spared no cost to make the mansion spectacular for his bride Anna. Even more impressively, Thorne dismantled a 400-year-old manor in England and shipped it, piece by piece, to the United States, so that all the bricks would be a part of the Castle. The mansion has 54 rooms, 28 bedrooms, and 22 bathrooms! In 1911, after four years of construction, Thornewood finally completed the 20,000 square foot castle. This testament to Thorne’s love for his wife gave the castle its sweet nickname: the house that love built.

The haunting of Thornewood Castle

So if the castle was built out of love, why is it so spooky? What makes this tudor-gothic mansion eerie? Several ghosts call it home. People believe these spirits stay at the mansion because of either their love for it, or the tragedies that have occurred there.

Ghosts of Thornewood Castle

Chester Thorne himself is the most active spirit there. He reportedly has made several appearances over the years. He usually shows up in the room that used to be his den, where he likes to unscrew the lightbulbs. No one really knows why; perhaps he feels nostalgic for the soft candlelight of 1911?

People have also reported seeing Anna, Chester’s wife, sitting in the window seat of her room that overlooks the garden. Today, Anna’s bedroom is a bridal suite which still has the original mirror from her time. Guests claim to see Anna’s spectral reflection in her mirror.

Guests have also claimed to see a child standing alone by the lake, only to find that when they rushed down to help, no one was there. Legend has it that the grandchild of a former owner drowned in the lake.

From Thornewood Castle’s current owners

Wayne and Deanna Robinson purchased the mansion in 2000. The couple claims that the most common encounter they’ve had is the phantom party they would see in the great hall. One night while Deanna was reading, the room suddenly lit up like a cocktail party was taking place. According to the website Weird US, “she heard people walking and dancing across the floor, the clinking of glasses and the mutter of conversation. It sounded like 100 invisible people had suddenly appeared.”

On another occasion, “Deanna has seen what she described as a vortex in the Great Hall. It appeared one night on the grand staircase. This stairway, like most fixtures at Thornewood Castle, is several hundred years old. She saw several spirits come out of the vortex, but having previously had a near death experience of her own, she did not investigate for fear of being pulled to the other side.”

Thornewood Castle Trivia

  • The mansion has hosted many garden and dinner parties for famous guests, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.
  • The Stephen King film Rose Red used Thornewood castle as a set. So did its prequel, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer.
  • An obscure silent film, The Eyes of the Totem, funded by Chester Thorne, shot on the castle grounds, and released in 1927, was then promptly lost for 80 years. Archivists rediscovered the film in 2015 in the archives of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
  • The manor has a collection of rare artwork which is hand-painted onto the glass. You can find this glass mounted in windows throughout the estate.

Visiting the Mansion

At the time of this writing, there is no formal Thornewood Castle ghost tour (or any tour) that you can take as a member of the general public. Staying at or attending an event at the inn are the ONLY ways to explore it. From their website: “We regret that time demands and our neighborhood setting do not permit us to show the Castle on a walk-up basis. The Castle is a private residence located in a gated neighborhood. It can be seen when staying as a registered overnight guest or attending a private event.”

However, the one exception to this rule might be to book a professional photo shoot there. Call Thornewood directly for details.

Accessibility at Thornewood Castle

The castle has no elevator. ALL of the rooms listed on their website are on the 2nd or 3rd floors. Remember in the States, the first floor IS the ground floor, so if you book a 2nd floor room, that’s just 1 flight of stairs to climb, not 2. 2nd floor rooms include the Grandview Suite, Presidential Suite, Anna’s Suite, Chester’s Suite, and The Blue Room. The other guest rooms all appear to be on the 3rd floor.

Some of the rooms do not have a bathroom en-suite, but may have private bathrooms that you’d need to exit your room and go down the hall to use. The house was built on its current site over 100 years ago, but is a replica (of sorts) of a 400 year old house, so expect the less-accessible features common to that time period.

But there may be another option: there are 2 (more modern) guest apartments on the property, one for 2 occupants, and 1 for up to 6 occupants, available by the week or by the month. Apartment guests get a key to the castle and are permitted to roam everywhere the guests staying inside the inn can. Be sure to call and specifically ask, as it’s unclear from their website just how accessible the apartments are.

Sweet dreams

Whether you believe these ghostly sightings took place or not, would you spend the night in Thornewood Castle? It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a country inn that has been restored. Online reservations are discounted by 15%. Again, at this time, ONLY guests of the Inn can roam the grounds; boat, swim, and fish in the lake; and have tea in the sunken English garden.