Monday, November 7, 2011

The Gingerbread Castle

When I was younger there was a place in the foothills of the Adirondack mountains where nursery rhymes and fairy tales came to life for the bemusement of children. And today, it's still standing, a relic from the 1950's kid friendly fun park, Storytown USA; only now it's called Great Escape complete with thrill rides and shows to entertain the entire vacation bound family.

Places like Storytown popped up all over the place in an ever growing post war America, however not all of them were lucky enough to be enveloped into a grander and more adventurous amusement park. Some were forgotten, left to slowly rot away and were auctioned off to baby boomers who wanted an artifact to remember happy summers spent away from the concrete jungle. One such fun park to meet this fate was the Gingerbread Castle, despite an ill-fated attempt to fix up this blast from the past and restore it for future generations to enjoy.

Built in 1904 for the St. Louis World's Fair Austrian pavillion by Austrian architect Joseph Urban, the Gingerbread Castle eventually found a new home in Hamburg, New Jersey and enjoyed many busy summers from the 1920's through to the 1970's. However as large scale amusement parks started to spring up the park's popularity soon declined and closed its doors for good in the 1980's.

Attempts to save the property from becoming another condominium complex was attempted in the early 2000's but funding proved to be hard. Now the Gingerbread Castle along with the Wheatsworth Mill sit behind a barbed wire fence as the paint slowly peels, Humpty-Dumpty about ready to take his fall and a triceratops steadily decays. It may be abandoned to lay to waste but it surely hasn't been forgotten as car after car drives by and slows down to take a peek, and fan pages and website pay tribute to one of their favorite places to visit as a child.

You can read more about the Gingerbread Castle and see period photos by clicking HERE.

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