Gimghoul Castle

746 Gimghoul Road
N. C. Curtis, architect

Waldensian stonemasons from Valdese, North Carolina, constructed this 1920s faux castle for the secret fraternity the Order of the Gimghouls. University students founded the Gimghouls in 1889 to uphold the chivalric ideals of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. They originally met in a lodge on Rosemary Street. Student Edward Wray Martin conceived of the castle about 1890, but he died in 1896 and his dream was not realized until the 1930s. In 1915 the order purchased ninety-four acres of land at Piney Prospect (called Point Prospect in the late eighteenth century). Construction began in 1922 on the castle, featuring a large meeting hall, a three-story battlemented tower, a conical tower with a turret, and an arcaded porte cochere at the entrance. At the sides and rear are wings. Inside the rough fieldstone walls are steel casement windows.

The castle was built at the edge of a bluff that marks the fall line of the state's piedmont section and overlooks the large valley of the coastal plain. A stone on the bluff known as "Dromgoole's Tomb" because of a spurious tradition that a university student, Peter Dromgoole, was killed at the site in a duel and buried nearby. (Dromgoole was a university student in 1831 but left mysteriously.) Members of the Gimghouls who became well known include Governor J. C. B. Ehringhaus, William Rand Kenan Jr., Frank Porter Graham, William Carmichael, and George Watts Hill.

SOURCE: M. Ruth LIttle, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2006), 232.


Gimghoul Castle. Photo by M. Ruth Little. Image courtesy the Preservation Society of Chapel Hill.tif / 3.51 MB Download