There’s their own road that still cuts thru the Liberty Corner woods in case the fire company needs to get there. Sadly, one night it didn’t make it.
With certain Mr. Local History stories, we often update the post when we learn stories and receive photos from our followers. We will continue to expand this piece as information becomes available. If you have a story to share, please post in the comments section at the end of this story.Mr. Local History Project
Tucked below the Hills on a quiet cul-de-sac in the Liberty Corner section of Bernards Township, New Jersey sits a turited French Norman style castle known to locals as Pharelock Castle. Very few locals remember the sad story about know the story the Mayor’s brother who died in his castle before his vision was completed.
The property was once the grandest in the area. It was a quiet dirt road. Bill Beatty named it Phareloch Castle. Before the Hills Development, the castle resided on 180 acres off Somerville Road at the foothills of the 2nd Watchung Mountain. There was no Allen Road. There was no Hills!
The brothers Beatty, William (Bill) Henry and Frank started building the castle in 1923 that ended up contained 29 rooms, a slate roof, stained glass imported from France, homemade floor tiles from Finland and Portugal, a tower, a great hall and winding staircases. It cost a whopping $120,000. Bill designed it to replicate his ancestor’s dwelling in England. The brothers dismantled six barns on the property for beams in the castle.
Many don’t remember that Bill was a wealthy New York advertising executive. His brother Frank Beatty was Mayor of Bernards Township in 1930. And he was a democrat to boot! In fact, the entire Township Committee was Democrat and he was the last Democratic Mayor in Bernards Township history (1933,1934,1939). William and Frank were related to Clyde Beatty, the famed animal trainer and circus performer.
Now this was Bill’s dream house. So how sad was it when in March 1931, while only 45, Bill became ill from a strep infection and died in in the castle. His wife Sarah Beaty never remarried. She raised all four children in the castle, and worked with Bill’s brother Frank over the next five years to complete Bill’s vision. Sarah lived there with her children until 1941. Frank lived on until Sept. 13, 1975 and died at age of 81.
Bill’s Haunting Spirit
Dr. Michaeleen Maher, an amateur parapsychologist, went to investigate the possibility of a ghost sighting. The owner had told them that there definitely was a presence there. She said that it was friendly and a male. Carol suggested getting rid of him via a seance; however, Dr. Maher insisted that they leave him alone. The new owner, Donald Burlingame, a longtime Pluckemin resident, knew there was a spirit. They heard hammering noises echoing through the hallways and footsteps going up and down the stairs.
On another night, they looked up and saw Bill (Beatty) on the balcony: “It was a figure of a man standing there. It didn’t stay long for me to examine it very good. It was gone just like that. It was scary. It frightened the daylights out of me. I just never wanted to go on that balcony again. I passed by it, but to get me in there and to stand there…oh, forget it. I wouldn’t go in there,” Burlingame remarked.
Other incidents included bread flying off the table, the vacuum cleaner mysteriously turned on and off. pictures would “dance” on the walls, and there was even a seance with 12 people where the table actually lifted off the floor.
Robert Lumpkin purchased the 140 acre Beatty property for $40,000 and on March 21, 1947 it was reported that Woodcastle School on Sanford Road under the direction of Robert C. Lumpkin was filed in Somerset County as a business. Called an “Elementary boarding school for boys”, the castle was converted into a boys school known as The Woodcastle School for Boys for The school ran through the late 1950s, run by Robert Clifton ‘Tony” Lumpkin, PhD.
During that time, students and teachers reported the sound of organ music echoing through the halls. Oddly, no pipe organ was present on the grounds. However, Bill had previously owned one.
Vacant and Haunted
At the end of the late 1950’s Woodcastle School closed and the castle was vacant and the property turned into a wayward building for mischief, youth vandalism, and police activity. Discussions ranged from tearing down the facility for redevelopment, to creation of a private recreational club. We have yet been able to find when the Woodcastle School officially closed.
Lumpkin finally sold the castle in the 1959 to Joseph Bauernschmidt of Long Island who owned the property for a short stint, later selling to the Croft family and then to Andrew Woehrel of Martinsville who all had visions of restoring the property to its original grandeur.
The Horror School
From 1970 to 1972, Andy Woehrel rented the Liberty Corner castle and estate to Terrence Michael & Judy Lynch, who founded the Chartwell Manor School , a 60 student co-educational school for children in grades 1- 8. The estate was renamed “Utopia Castle”.
Tuition at the school was $3,500/year. The school relocated in 1972 to the 42 acre estate of former NJ Governor Frank Murphy known as Franklin Farms in nearby Mendham, New Jersey where it ultimately led to its demise in the 1980s.
Chartwell Manor’s headmaster Terence M. Lynch left the Somerset Hills School in Warren in the 1960s to start Chartwell Manor. He would in the 1980’s be known not as a ghost, but as a real life monster.
Accusations of child abuse started arising in the 1980’s and ultimately led to charges and convictions for the Lynches. He served jail time, was released, then committed similar crimes and was sent back to jail. Lynch spent seven years in state prison for abusing 12 boys and two girls between 10 and 16 years old (1981 to 1984). Lynch died on December 20, 2011 in Parsippany.
1972 – The Massive Fire
Sadly, on January 8, 1972, after Chartwell School vacated the property, two of Woehrel’s sons were staying in the castle overnight when a fire they lit in the fireplace that got out of hand. With five mortgages and a personal financial collapse, the fire was most likely a saving grace.
The blaze destroyed the structure, leaving mere stones and bones of the original structure. The only remaining parts of the estate were the kitchen, servants rooms, and the garage.
Disrepair and Rebirth
On December 13, 1971 the castle came up at a Sheriff’s auction and all you had to do was satisfy the $31,654 financing, but it was expected to sell in the $100,000 range. In 1972, Donald Burlingame purchased the castle at a sheriff’s sale for a mere $43,300. Don and his wife, Carol, bought the estate and began to re-model.
After a terrible fight with Bernards Township regarding rights to sell antiques out of the estate, the Burlingames’s were forced to sell the castle.
The latest owners, Steven Feldstein and his wife, Avis Gardell, spoke fondly of the castle and the work they have put into it. Feldstein was living in Manhattan back in 1998 when he needed to find another place to live. While reading The Wall Street Journal, he saw a real estate ad for a castle and has spent 20 years restoring the estate.
In 2018, the 8.45-acre, farm-assessed property at 1 Shadowbrook Lane in The Hills development was on the market for $2.75 million. It is not known if the property was sold or just pulled from the market.
Pharelock Castle has its own website – http://pharelochcastle.com/. But don’t forget it was also Wildwood Castle, Castle Utopia and Burlingame Castle as well as two boys schools.
The ghost stories were twice featured on national television programs, first on ABC’s “That’s Incredible!” in 1981 and then on NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries” in 1992.
MLH Remembers William Henry Beatty II
Based on our research, this is what we can share:
- 1920 – William Henry Beatty purchases 180 acres, 9 barns and creates plans to build Phareloch Castle.
- In 1930, they moved into it with their four children before construction was complete.
- March 31, 1931 Bill Beatty dies of after an eight week illness and strep infection and died in the castles tower art studio.
- 1933 – Brother Frank Beatty completes Phareloch castle at an estimated cost ranging from $120,000 to $130,000.
- 1941 – Sara Beatty raised all four children in the castle, and lives there until 1941. It was reported that Sara Beatty moved to Westfield (Sept 1951)
- 1945 – Sara Beatty files for ordinance to allow boys school on the property in the name of Robert Lumpkin on the west side of Sandford Road. Board denies. NJ Supreme Court overrules.
- 1945 – Sara C. Beatty sells Phareloch Castle, then on Sanford Road. On March 21, 1947, Robert C. Lumpkin (Elizabeth) files for the creation of the Woodcastle School in Somerset County. The school is to serve as a “Elementary boarding school for boys”. Robert “Tony” Clifton Lumpkin, PhD purchased the 140 acre Beatty property for $40,000 with $35,000 mortgage held by Beatty. (noted Feb 12, 1952) Noted as Old Somerville Road.
- 1956 – Woodcastle School has 18 pupils
- Late 1950’s – Woodcastle School closes.
- 1959 – Joseph Bauernschmidt of Long Island who took ownership of the property transferred title of the property over to Kathryn Bauernschmidt Crofts on Feb. 16, 1965.
- Aug 1960 – Windows broken at the vacant Woodcastle School
- April 25, 1961 – Woodcastle School on Somerville Road vacant – Referred to as the “Haunted House” in newspaper.
- June 15, 1960 – Police padlock Woodcastle school after 20 chickens are stolen from nearby Milito property. There was a new year’s Eve party in the vacant castle. Discussions were underway to convert the property into a private recreational club.
- 1961 – Paulette Sameth of Hacketstown – Sept 6, 1961 stated in Bville News as owner where a rumble took place. (Need to validate)
- March 1965 – Karen Bauernschmidt Crofts (Roslyn Heights, NY) sells to Andrew C. and Ruth Ann Woehrel of Martinsville for $35,000 but keeps property in the area that she continues to sell off into the 1970s. Address noted as 352 Somerville Road.
- 1970 – Terrence & Judy Lynch rent Utopia Castle from Andrew & Ruth Ann Woehrel and start Chartwell Manor School.
- 1971 – End of year Terrance Lynch relocates Chartwell Manor school to Mendham. Utopia Castle goes vacant.
- Jan 8, 1972 – Early Saturday morning fire destroys Woehrel’s Utopia Castle. The fire started in an upstairs fireplace catching the lower floor paneling which consumed the structure.
- Feb 7, 1972 – Sheriff’s sale at Somerset County Courthouse.
- 1972, Donald & Carol Burlingame purchase Utopia castle at sheriff’s sale for $43,300 after Andrew and Ruth Ann Woehrel went bankrupt. They turn it into an antique shop and change the name to Castle Burlingame Farm raising Himalayan cats. The address became Green Mountain Road with 8.5 acres.
- 1997/1998 – Burlingame’s file for bankruptcy. Forced to sell Burlingame Castle.
- 1998-2018 – Steven Feldstein and his wife, Avis Gardell purchase property and rename back to Phareloch castle (8.45-acres). The address is now 1 Shadowbrook Lane.