Hauntingly glorious and hopelessly enchanting, the star of Stephen King's "Rose Red" is as beautiful today as it was when Chester Thorne envisioned its English décor in his mind. The 400 year old Elizabethan manor famously known as Thornewood Castle graces Lakewood, Washington like nothing ever before with her Tudor Gothic style that appears to stare at you from her crystal windows and intricately placed stained glass pains.
The entire design of the mansion was carefully detailed by the famous architect, Kirkland Cutter, but it was Chester Thorne who would ensure that only the finest materials went into his castle. Chester Thorne, one of the founders of Tacoma, Washington was fascinated with the grandeur of old English estates and decided to recreate one of them to perfection in the Pacific Northwest. The one million dollar Thornewood castle was completed in 1911, and the extreme love that he felt for his bride inspired him more than anything else to build the home of their dreams that would remain long after they had departed this world.
Every last detail of their future home was of the utmost importance to Chester, and he wanted nothing more than to secure their happiness together within the walls of the enormous estate. Only the finest would due for his bride, and began his endeavor by having enough bricks shipped directly from England to facilitate a three-story, 27,000 square foot empire, complete with the finest furnishings and luxurious formal English gardens that would most certainly embellish the property.
Twenty-eight gardeners resided daily over the 37 acres of lush gardens that boasted everything from a sunken secret garden adorned with English accents to brick breezeways, and arched entrances. The garden was one of the many highlights on the property and was often used to entertain the rich and famous friends of the Thorne family.
The 500 year old staircase and every door within the Thornewood mansion were constructed from ancient English oak and were secured together by wooden dowels, representing excellent workmanship for the time. Period furnishings and a lakeside tiled patio complete the entire feel of the house, inviting visitors in to come and enjoy all of what the mansion has to offer.
Chester Thorne passed away quietly on October 16, 1927, after having enjoyed his dream home for well over a decade. His significant contributions to the Tacoma area left his widow in good standing with the citizens in the surrounding area. In fact they welcomed Anna Thorne so much so that she was elected to the board of directors of her husband's bank, and continued to oversee her husband's philanthropic efforts in the community, as well as the mansion and her gardens.
Chester and Anna Thorne had one child, a daughter that they named Anita, whom they doted on and spoiled. Their daughter married Major General David C. Stone after her first marriage had failed. Her husband was a career military man that was transferred to the Panama Canal Zone, leaving Anna Thorne to care for the large estate on her own. Often filled with loneliness and finding the mansion too large for just one person, she moved into a smaller home.
Once her daughter and son-in-law moved back to the area, the family all moved back into Thornewood mansion and Anna lived out her remaining years in her castle until she too quietly passed away in 1954. Anita sold the mansion after her husband passed away in 1959 to Harold St. John. His view of the estate was entirely different from anything that the Thorne family had ever dreamed of. The Thornewood mansion was quickly subdivided, and turned into 30 various sites for future homes. Only a meager four acres of the original 100 acres was reserved for the mansion, along with 110-feet of lakefront property.
Wayne and Deanna Robinson anxiously purchased the estate in 2000 after it had been through several hands before them. They have given the castle much needed attention and have restored it to its former grace and beauty, to which the property was originally designed to be. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the mansion now offers guests the chance to share her history as well as her many offerings.
The new owners had a vision of their own, and it included a luxurious and romantic bed & breakfast, complete with an itinerary filled with events and a "Castle Murder Mystery Night." Reports of paranormal activity was a normal way of life at the mansion, so the Robinson's decided to take advantage of the estates spirit world rather then shy away from it. They can not guarantee that you will see an occurrence or a spirit out and about, but paranormal investigations over the years have hailed a positive output that spirits do indeed reside within the castle walls.
The lake is a popular haunting grounds for a small boy, reportedly the grandson of a prior tenant who has been rumored to have drowned in its very depths. The most common sighting is that of Chester Thorne himself, who has reportedly made several haunting visits over the years. Others have reported seeing Anna, Chester's wife, sitting in the window seat of her room, overlooking the garden. Anna's room is now the bridal suite which contains an original mirror from her time, where guest have reported seeing her reflection.
Stephen King chose the Thornewood castle from a list of 30 potential possibilities. He originally picked the Winchester mansion as the estate of choice, but the Thornewood castle matched almost identically to all of the major characteristics of the house in Stephen King's script of the movie Rose Red, including the age, style, and size of the location. The castle owners readily agreed to the filming of Rose Red in their residence simply because ABC and Disney wanted to reopen and restore the grand rooms on the first floor back to their original look and grandeur as when it was first constructed in 1911.
Additional improvements were also made to the grounds. Many years ago most large rooms on the first floor were divided into smaller rooms and apartments. The owners have stated that the financial undertaking and the results are truly breath-taking. They could not believe the end result when they discovered the secrets hidden behind ugly plaster and other cheap remodel jobs that had hidden the beauty of the mansion over the years. Fabulous ceilings, fireplaces, moldings, floors and walls are now exposed for the first time in over 50 years, and painstaking restored to 100 years ago.
The Thornewood Castle Inn & Gardens offers eight beautiful suites with period furniture that looks much the same as it did when the Thorne family once resided there. Each suite has its own unique characteristics that compliment the various styles of the family, along with their exquisite tastes, and sends anyone with a bit of imagination briefly back in time.
Anna Thorne's Suite, also known as the "Bridal Suite," features an ornate cherry king-size bed, marble fireplace, beautiful 16-century stained glass windows, a large bay window with a view of the sunken garden, and Anna Thorne's original ornate wall mirror that often reflects her ghostly image to visitors of the estate.
Chester Thorne's Suite is the room of choice for honeymooners with its romantic setting that offers large wing-back chairs, gorgeous plush furniture, exquisite 16th-century stained glass windows, an ornate working gas fireplace, and panoramic views of the courtyard.
Once used as a servants quarters, the Lord Byron Attic Suite has been successfully converted into a romantic haven for lovebirds seeking privacy and tranquility. The beautifully decorated suite has been furnished in deep amber hues just perfect for setting the mood for relaxation.
The Sewing Room Suite is set in an Americana style with bold colors that reflects all things stately. It was the original sewing room found in the blue prints of the mansions original layout.
The Blue Room, Grand View, Presidential, Rose Red, Casa Blanca, and Lyoness Suites are available for short or long term rentals. All suites include comfy thick terry robes, chocolates, and a romantic setting designed especially for anyone that is in the mood for love.
Proof of Ghosts.......The Washington State Ghost Society was allowed the privilege of a paranormal investigation at Thornewood Castle. Their findings revealed that the Gold Room had an active spirit bent on giving comfort to anyone spending time there. Throughout the evening a significant amount of impressions were caught on film dating from all time frames of the home's existence.
A woman with turn of the century clothing, a high neck corset with her dark hair up high in a bun was seen. Later, an apparition of a man with a mustache, brown hair, brown suit and tie, balding, hair brushed back at the sides, with chubby cheeks was caught on film. The over-powering smell of a cherry pipe tobacco was also evident in one of the rooms.
Guests of the castle never stop reporting the obvious paranormal activity that includes the appearance of ghosts, lights turning on and off at will and a peaceful energy that fills the castle. The crew responsible for filming Rose Red claims that a lamp in the ballroom goes on at will, and during High Tea an apparition appeared for more than thirty guests.
Location: 8601 N Thorne Lane, Lakewood, Washington