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It is early September: the golden beauty of summer is still much in evidence, but summer is now being touched by the first stirrings of autumn. It is a beautiful time of year here in Brooklyn—maybe the prettiest of all. What better time to combine two of our obsessions—gardens and all things gothic?


When I fantasize about limitless personal wealth, I imagine building a garden which perfectly combines the spooky angular beauty of Gothic architecture and decoration with the luxuriant fecund beauty of flowers and plants. Of course we have already seen how lovely Gothic garden structures are in this well-received post about Gothic greenhouses. Today we are looking instead at Gothic gazebos.





The internet defines a gazebo as “a roofed structure that offers an open view of the surrounding area, typically used for relaxation or entertainment.” Since they are pleasure buildings built entirely for aesthetic reasons, gazebos are often made in elaborate ornamental styles—including the Gothic style of ornate arches, pitched roofs, and intricate detail. Here is a little gallery of Gothic gazebo pictures which I found on the web. Unfortunately I really mean little! For some reason, people do not wish to post large images of Gothic revival garden structures (maybe they are rightfully afraid that I will steal them).


19th century cast iron collection (Morning Glory Gazebo with eagle), Belmont University-large




You can put these amazing buildings in your fantasy garden and wonder into them in your imagination whenever you need a break from the opprobrious ugliness of the real world!



The Mohonk Mountain House looms over Mohonk Lake

The Mohonk Mountain House looms over Mohonk Lake

The Mohonk Mountain House is a monstrous Victorian castle built between 1879 and 1910 on Lake Mohonk in upstate New York. I was there this weekend to attend my friends’ wedding in the sprawling gardens, and I was forcefully struck by the Ghormenghast grandeur of the house and properties which are simultaneously beautiful and cheerful yet exude a haunting wistfulness.
Mohonk Mountain House Gardens

Mohonk Mountain House Gardens

Located just beyond the southern boundary of the Catskills, the hotel features multiple ornate turrets and towers festooned with finials and oddly shaped weather vanes (squids maybe?). The inside is a baffling labyrinth of hallways, sitting rooms, libraries, and porches. Outside, numerous rustic gazebos and folly buildings are spread through gorgeous gardens and vertiginous meadow rambles. Beyond the hotel, lovely forests stretch up into the mountains or down into the spooky wooded fens which feed the mighty Hudson.
A fen (or carr, or tarn, or bog?) by New Paltz, New York

A fen (or carr, or tarn, or bog?) by New Paltz, New York

Speaking of spooky, the hotel and the surrounding hills have amassed all sorts of reports concerning specters of varying temperaments and classes, from giggling children, to poltergeists, to wispy flames, to lurking drown victims, to dark toothy shadows in the hedge maze: the Mohonk seems to have every sort of ghost story.

Mohonk Mountain House (photo by cindy from

Mohonk Mountain House (photo by cindy from

It is said that a young, poor Stephen King visited the house and that shadows of the building linger in The Shining, The Regulators, and The Talisman. The Mohonk was also used as the set for the Victorian Sanitarium in the movie The Road to Wellville.
Apparently there were once a great many lumbering Victorian edifices like the Mohonk spread through America, but almost all of them have now burnt down. The Smiley brothers, who constructed the building, were early advocates of safety and environmental awareness, so their huge flammable heap was equipped with all sorts of sprinklers and fire hoses. We should probably feel that the big burned-up spots where the other hotels used to be are haunted and celebrate the lovely Mohonk as the safest and least disaster-prone resort of its era.

Hooray for Safety!

Hooray for Safety!

Ye Olde Ferrebeekeeper Archives

February 2023