Catskill Keep: An Abandoned Cursed Castle In Upstate NY

Abandoned Dundas Castle in upstate
New York
is said to be cursed: its builder died and his
family were committed to
before they could even move in.

Ralph Wurts-Dundas (1871-1921) was a wealthy recluse who, since
he could not BE a Scottish laird, did the next best thing by
living like one… at least, that was the plan. In 1907, Dundas
bought a log cabin on the banks of the Beaverkill River, deep
in New York’s lush and forested Catskill Mountains. The cabin,
known locally as “Beaverkill Lodge”, featured many comfort and
convenience features but for Dundas only a stone-walled and
luxuriously furnished castle would do.

Highlands Fling

By 1915, blueprints had been drawn up and several dozen Finnish
stonemasons were brought to the site. To help keep costs
reasonable, thousands of locally sourced river stones were used
to construct the castle’s three-story-tall walls and grand
turreted “witch’s hat” gate towers. Construction moved ahead in
fits and starts, however. Dundas was both meticulous and
impulsive, at times ordering entire completed sections to be
torn down and reconstructed so as to better match his vision.

All the while, Dundas’ emotionally-unstable wife and sheltered
daughter lived in a side wing of the original log lodge so the
family patriarch could see to their immediate needs. World War
I came and went with the nascent Dundas Castle still
unfinished, although some fixtures, rugs, and tapestries had
already been delivered and were in storage pending
installation. Then tragedy (the first of many) struck: Ralph Dundas passed away on
October 16th of 1921.

Seeking Asylums

Dundas’ passing saw his wife, Josephine, deprived of her only
emotional support and in short order she was declared legally
incompetent. On May 1st of 1922, she was committed to the West
Hill Sanitarium in Riverdale, Bronx County, NY where she spent
the rest of her days. As for the Dundas’ 18-year-old daughter
Muriel, she was honeymooning in Europe at the time of her
father’s demise.

Poor Muriel might have inherited her mother’s mental issues as
she, in turn, was committed to an asylum in Great Britain. That
left Muriel’s husband who – this is starting to sound like a
broken record – returned to the United States only to be
committed to a mental institution. Perhaps Dundas could have
saved everyone a lot of bother by building his Scottish fantasy
as an actual insane asylum instead of a palatial home. Just

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