Usen Castle – Waltham, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

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Usen Castle

This castle constructed in 1928 was crafted from drawings of Lismore Castle in Ireland.  


As the story goes, Dr. John Hall Smith, the founder of Middlesex University was traveling through Ireland and saw Lismore Castle. Smith was so impressed with the castle that he asked to bring it back with him. The owners denied his request. Smith then asked for the blueprints, only to be told no again. Not one to be stopped, he had drawings done of the outside of the castle. The Castle in Waltham was constructed based on these drawings.

The land that was once Middlesex University is now the campus of Brandeis University, founded in 1948. “The Castle,” as it is called, was first used as an administrative space as well as a dining hall. It was used as a dormitory until the building was condemned and later partially torn down to make room for a new building.

Cholmondeley’s Coffee House is now housed in the building. It’s named after a dog that belonged to former campus photographer Ralph Norman. The space is also used to host events for various campus groups.

Although the rest of the building is closed off, the lights in one of the rooms on the top floor is often on during the evenings. Some of the benches outside of the dormitory neighboring Usen Castle are made from materials of the demolished structure.

Know Before You Go

The remaining part of Usen Castle is closed to visitors. Only the coffee house inside the castle is open to the public.

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