People don’t often think of the United States when the topic of castles comes up. After all, it’s in Europe where the world’s most famous and oldest castles can be found.
What many may not know, though, is that America has its own share of the magnificent structures. One of them has been hiding in plain sight in one of San Francisco’s streets.
Even more interesting is the fact that this mysterious American castle is harboring a dark secret within its supposedly haunted walls.
The Albion Castle stands obscured from the street at 881 Innes Ave. Once home to the Albion Ale & Porter Brewery, the four-story edifice was built in the 1870s and is now owned by retired police officer Bill Gilbert, who reportedly bought the property for $900,000 in 2012.
Considering the modern homes in the area, people would be surprised to see such a medieval-looking residence behind the towering trees and high fences that surround the Albion Castle.
It may seem out of place now, but its first owner, an English immigrant, John Hamlin Burnell, intentionally built it in this area so that it can sit on top of an underground natural aquifer, allowing him to get the water he needed to brew ale.
And to harness the water beneath his residence-slash-brewery, Burnell built cisterns in a cave underneath the castle. His efforts proved to be successful as the cisterns still stand to this day and continue to hold clean and potable water.
The third cistern notably bears a plaque with the inscription ‘hand-hewn caverns’ written on it.
Burnell’s brewery at the Albion Castle operated until the Prohibition during the 20th century shut it down. It found new life as a water company and produced bottled water until the 1940s.
Since then, the castle has also been featured on the show ‘Ghost Adventures’.
Fairy Tale-Like Interiors
While the castle’s original owner outfitted his residence relatively simply, it was given a makeover by Adrien Voisin, a sculptor who purchased the property in 1938.
It was he who added on intricate woodwork into the castle’s interiors. In fact, it was actually his additions that managed to survive time.
His efforts turned Albion Castle into a proper Medieval fortress with decors straight out of what one would imagine castles in fairy tales to look like. Voisin also filled the home with rich colors and chandeliers.
More recently, the castle was upgraded to have modern appliances.