In 1902 construction began on a castle on a hill with a view of the skyline of New York City and the villages of Verona and Montclair. For three years, work continued on what would become Kypsburg, the home of Frederick Ellsworth Kip and his wife, Charlotte Bishop Williams Kip. Mr. Kip was a wealthy textile inventor and industrialist who published several books on U.S. tariff laws.
The Kip’s Castle Estate located on the ridge of First Mountain, which is shared by Verona and Montclair, is said to have been designed by Mrs. Kip and features 30 distinctive rooms in the castle, many with vaulted ceilings and fireplaces with handcrafted tiles. In addition, there is a two-story, 6,000 square-foot carriage house on the property. A showpiece of the property was a renowned octagonal rose garden.
Over the years, the estate remained in private hands. In 2000, the law firm that owned the castle began a long fight to develop the property with condos, townhouses and single-family homes. For seven years the historic gem was threatened with continued plans of development. Neighbors and others fought to save the beautiful 9,000-square-foot castle, its carriage house, serpentine drive and grounds. As in stories of old, everyone hoped for a knight on a steed to save the property from ruin, but the chances looked bleak.
In March 2007, the County of Essex, under the leadership of Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., stepped in to save the property, purchasing it with generous grants from the NJ Green Acres Program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund.
The purchase added a gem to the historic Essex County Park System and paved the way for a “happy ever after” life for Kip’s Castle.