Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
Read Part Three here.
Read Part Four here.
We wanted to arrive at Wing’s Castle at sunset, because Dawn told us it’s one of the most spectacular views of the Hudson Valley. But arriving at 9:30 p.m. in the rain, fog, and storm was definitely a spookier backdrop for our purposes.
Making our way down the long driveway, my dad and I arrived at the castle front, shrouded in fog and dimly lit. Peter Wing, who owns the bed and breakfast with his wife, Toni Ann, came out to greet us. He quickly showed us around the outside and the Dungeon Room (where we were originally going to stay) before we walked up the steps and inside. (Watch a short video tour here.)
The castle is built on what was once Peter’s family farm (a cow pasture, to be exact). He was expelled from school at the age of 17, joined the U.S. Navy, and was sent to Vietnam for the war. When he came back at 21, he said, “I made the decision never to listen to anyone ever again, and I think the building sprang from that attitude of me falling away from society.” (Watch a short documentary here.)
Peter and Toni started building the castle in 1969 and haven’t stopped since! The castle is 85% recycled material. They find materials when buildings or houses are being torn down or renovated, at garage sales, anywhere you could think. (Part of the floor in the main part is from a church and the wood came from an old barn.)
Peter walked us around the castle, telling us about the artifacts, where he got them, and if there was a story behind them.
It’s quite a sight when you first walk in. The first thing that caught my eye was the mannequin-looking, military uniformed person when you look straight ahead. Walk in a few more steps, and the hull of a ship is coming out of the ceiling. Look to the right and there’s a collection of helmets. Above the doorway is a huge collection of gas masks (which are also scattered through the main room). Peter kept saying, “If you need to know anything about your fellow man, just look at those.”
In one of the nooks in the wall that we passed by, there was a VERY real looking skeleton. Peter joked it was his neighbor—“We get along much better now,” he said. I must have had quite the look on my face, because he let out a short laugh and reassured me it was just papier mache.
Peter showed us up to our room, asked us if we wanted a wake-up call, and bid us farewell. The room itself had some unique items in it, albeit not as many as downstairs. The bathroom was very modern and comfortable, but the storm outside and creepy feeling I was getting made it hard to sleep. (Plus the old telephone was freaking me out … it looks like a face!)
Bright and early the next morning, we were up, had a lovely breakfast in the main room, and talked a little bit more to Peter about his memorabilia. (He told me he’d save the scary stuff for the daylight … like the fact that his daughter and niece say they’ve seen ghostly figures in our room.)
It would be silly to think that with all the artifacts they have collected throughout the years, spirits aren’t attached to them. Peter said some stuff he sees, he won’t buy, saying, “You can just tell …”
A wooden carving of a woman wearing an elegant dress caught my eye. Peter said he carved her himself and has done about 180 wood carvings like her. He said he based it on dress shops back in the day—they would put something like her outside and people would know what kind of store it was, even if they didn’t speak English. A dress hanging behind her (that Toni picked out) is what Peter based her garment on. He said a little boy came and visited once, stared at the dress, and said the lady that used to own the dress was tortured … and then walked away; that was it.
One day, separately, he bought a hat and Toni bought an apron. That SAME day, a photo album was dropped off with a picture of a person wearing both items. They own a wooden panel that has a goat on it with some odd writing in a language no one could identify. People say they’ve heard it breathing. Other oddities surrounding the castle and the land: Peter discovered a huge dinosaur footprint in a large rock! He built his own stonehenge and has a Bronze Age stone slab that one can only speculate what it was used for.
Unfortunately, the fog lingered into the morning and clouded our view of the valley. Peter showed us his current project (another room for the bed and breakfast and a courtyard of sorts) and then we were off.
With no extra time to explore Millbrook, we made our way back down and met Dawn in Fishkill before traveling to our next haunted destination—Bannerman Island.
It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of Peter Wing’s passing on September 28, 2014. He was a respected member of the Millbrook community and it is a loss that will take time to heal. Read the Poughkeepsie Journal’s article here. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Wing family.