What began as a plain early American homestead has been reborn centuries later as a cradle of European hospitality.
The story of the Chateau Hathorn begins with a colonial era love story. When Benjamin Burt migrated here from Ridgefield, CT around 1748, he married a local girl, Anna Blain, and the couple settled on land adjacent to her parents. After a long life together the loving couple died within one hour of each other in 1796, and were laid in the same grave on their farm.
Their simple home would have been a familiar sight t the many Revolutionary War soldiers and militia, standing on a major route the patriots used and next to the home of the local militia commander, Gen. John Hathorn.
Benjamin’s son, Belden, inherited the farm and married Sarah Hathorn, daughter of Gen. John and Elizabeth Hathorn. It stayed in the Burt family for generations until around 1891, when the property was purchased by Col. Victor Audubon Wilder. He had served in the Civil War and afterwards became a very successful businessman. He hired the noted Arts & Crafts architect E.G. W. Dietrich to transform the existing early farmhouse – which is reported to still be contained within the present day structure – into the elaborate and graceful mansion of today. Later the Wilders suffered financial reversals and sold the estate to James M. Fuller around 1900. Mr. Fuller was the son in law of another wealthy family, Mr. & Mrs. Solomon W. Johnson.
The estate fell on hard times after the sudden death of Mr. Fuller in 1932, and in the 1950s became the Warwick Dude Ranch, an equestrian center operating during the summer months.
The property was vacant and in a poor state when Zueger family took a trip to Warwick to go apple picking. Standing on a hill in the orchard, Dolph and Helene spotted the neglected building and decided to take a closer look. Peering inside, Dolph envisioned a grand restaurant, reminiscent of the great chateaux of Europe. The decision was made. The couple contacted the owner and bought the property.
A year of renovations began. Helene restored the interior fabrics and woodwork to their original beauty. Fireplaces, ceilings and staircases of oak, rosewood and mahogany were burnished to a luster. Anything that couldn’t be salvaged was recreated in a minute detail, from dining room chairs to draperies.
The Chateau looks out on the mountain where 225 acres of the original Wilder-Fuller estate is preserved as wildlife sanctuary of the Orange County Land Trust.
Today, under the care of the Zueger family, this stately and historic home has become a special place for fine dining or a perfect wedding celebration.