The End of a Fantasy: A Study on the Decay of Gingerbread Castle and Wheatsworth Mills

The first part of my study on the state of decay of the Wheatsworth Mills focuses on the beautiful mosaic tiles, reminiscent of the European “Azulejos.”  It’s sad to see that one of the piers has lost it’s beautiful, irreplaceable tiles to the weather and/or vandals.  I wanted to share a brief piece of the history of Sussex County, New Jersey before the structure and site are no longer recognizable.  The following slideshow was taken using my iPhone4S and edited using Instagram photo editor.

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The Following is an excerpt from the Gingerbread Castle website:

Urban, Joseph (1872–1933), designer and architect. One of the greatest of all scenic artists, he was born in Vienna, where he later studied at the Art Academy under Baron Carl Hassauer and at the Polytechnicum. Urban first came to America to create the Austrian Pavilion for the 1904 St. Louis Fair. The Boston Opera Company brought him back in 1911 to design its sets, but it was his work on The Garden of Paradise (1914) that brought him to the attention of Florenz Ziegfeld and launched his Broadway career.  Away from the theatre he served as architect for numerous homes and buildings and also earned a reputation as an illustrator of children’s books. Biography: Joseph Urban, Randolph Carter, Robert Reed Cole, 1992

Excerpt from Flickr with great HDR photos by Ninoignacio:

After operating as a children’s fairy tale theme park for nearly 50 years, Gingerbread Castle finally closed in the late 1970s. It reopened for a few years as a haunted Halloween venue before a fire closed it permanently in 1993 [RA: It was still running a seasonal haunted attraction on the property in 1997]. Attempts to restore the castle as a children’s theme park hadn’t gotten far. NJ resident Frank Hinger and his wife Lou purchased the property in 2003 with plans to revitalize it, even securing a grant from Hampton Hotel’s Save-a-Landmark program in 2004, which was used to repaint the castle exterior. But raising additional funds proved difficult. After unsuccessfully offering the castle on eBay, it was auctioned off by sheriff’s sale in January 2007 for approximately $680,000.

As of fall 2008, local real estate developers Gene Mulvihill and Pat Barton were the Gingerbread Castle’s current owners. Mulvihill, who owns the neighboring former Plastoid building and a share in nearby Ballyowen, the state’s highest-rated public golf course, seemed interested in preserving the castle. In a January 2007 article in the New Jersey Herald, Mulvihill states, “It’s in (Hamburg’s) blood. We’re not going to rip the place down, that’s not going to happen. Not going to happen.” [Laura K., 08/17/2009]

Here are some photos from above: Aerial Photos to enjoy.

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7 Comments on “The End of a Fantasy: A Study on the Decay of Gingerbread Castle and Wheatsworth Mills”

  1. I Adore the Mosaic Tiles! A Shame if they are not preserved in some way! Thank You for Sharing! :)))

  2. cath says:

    I have always loved ceramics and tiles. It bothered me to see what looked like bullet holes on some of those beautiful tiles. I can understand loss to weather, but have never been able to understand the human penchant for wanton destruction. Great photos Frank. By the time we are gone, those photos may be all that is left. How sad.

    Sharing this post…


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