FROM THE NORTH END: A LITTLE PIECE OF BURKE HISTORY THAT, PERHAPS, FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT IS “KATHRYN’S CASTLE.” Burke did, in fact, have a real castle. The personality behind the castle is a bit of a story in itself–Kathyrn Thompson Baldwin–who this writer has addressed in past columns.
The Thompson family traced their lineage back to Massachusetts during colonial days where her great, great grandfather distinguished himself in the Battle of Bunker Hill. The Thompson’s arrived in Fairfax in 1890 and ran a hardware store for several years. During this brief stay in Fairfax Kathyrn commuted to Bonesteel in a one-horse surrey where she taught school. The family sold their hardware store in 1892 and returned to Massachusetts. Kathyrn, however, headed in the opposite direction to Washington State where she continued to teach. She taught one year in Washington State before teaching her way `
She taught in the first school house in Burke (on the block where the courthouse is located) when there were two teachers employed-one for the elementary students and one for the high school students. It was during this time that Miss. Baldwin and another teacher, Miss Evans, conceived the plan to build a medieval castle. They employed Mr. Christ Habager to make cement blocks and John Oran and Cyrus Burch to lay the blocks. The castle was a two-story building with turrets on each corner. Each room was plastered and windows cemented in. The castle was to be heated by fireplaces in each room. Before completion, the gals ran out of funds and it was never completed, but remained a curiosity for several years. It was eventually sold to Ed Pete who dismantled the structure. Kathyrn used the proceeds from the sale of the “castle” to purchase a quarter of land east of Burke several miles.
The “castle” became known as “the haunted house.” The location of the castle was just west of the current home of Roger and Tammy Hotz. One has to wonder if the castle had survived, could it have been turned into a tourist attraction….or at least a “spook” house on Halloween? Anyway, it’s a small, interesting part of the history of our community.
Author Jack Broome, originally published in the Burke Gazette on February 19, 2020