Mid-Evil Woman (and Castle) – Merriwood Castle of Highland Park

It is hard to believe that there is a castle in nearby Highland Park, just off of River Road across the street from Johnson Park. According to A Day in the Life, the stones that were used to build the castle block by block were imported from the Cotswold area of England over 75 years ago. The castle is said to have 25 rooms, complete with hidden stairwells and secret passages. The original owners of the castle were John Seward Johnson, who was heir to the Johnson and Johnson fortune (whose headquarters was just across the park and across the river), and his wife Ruth Dill. After their divorce, Ruth married Phillip Crockett in 1940 and they moved into the carriage house, where Phillip reportedly still lives today at the ripe age of 100. From 1947 to 1963, the castle was the residence of Charles and Barbara Farmer and their three kids, and for part of this time served as a nursing home. The plot thickened, as Charles Farmer was charged in the shooting death of his estranged wife in 1963 as she stopped by to pick up some of her belongings. Charles entered the bedroom through a secret passage, snuck up on his wife and shooting her three times with a .22. Charles Farmer then shot himself, but the wounds weren’t fatal and he was admitted into a mental institution. The Castle was uninhabited for five years after the murder and sold to Nathan Kaplan in 1968. It is now home to the Kaplan Realty offices.

An investigation of the castle during the daytime revealed its splendor, with the main front of the residence adorned with a garden. To the left, there were deep holes from the construction underway, and to the right there was what appeared to be a currently occupied residence, with toys strewn about. It seemed as though there was a family living on the right side of the Kaplan offices, with a trampoline and basketball court in plain view. The most frightening part of the investigation was the appearance of a woman sitting on a bench in the garden. It turned out to be a very lifelike statue in black and gold of an old woman, which was extremely interesting. Further investigations should definitely be conducted on this hidden and forgotten landmark, which has often been said to be haunted.

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