The Van Slyke Castle was built in 1910 by a NY stockbroker named William Porter. At the time, the location was known as Fox Hill, and the mansion Porter built there was originally called “Foxcroft”. Today, the ruins of the mansion are all that remain. Its grand walls and archways are still preserved in stone and brick, and several trails will take hikers up and through what’s left of the Van Slyke Castle.
Porter died in a car crash in 1911 while his wife, Ruth, was traveling home from a European vacation. Ruth inherited the mansion and married to a man named Warren Van Slyke – this is where the mansion’s second and final name came from. When Van Slyke passed in 1925, she lived alone at the mansion until her eventual passing in 1940.
Van Slyke Castle was finally purchased in 1949 by a couple who subsequently resold the property two years later to Suzanne S. Christie. She abandoned it shortly after. No one knows why she left the place, though it’s suspected it could have been the result of a bitter divorce.
In 1959, vandals broke into the mansion and set it ablaze. What remains are the stone walls, beams and the thick-walled furnace of what was once a glorious mansion on top of a mountain. The lot and ruined mansion were eventually seized and became part of the Ramapo Mountain State Forest in the 1980s. Which means park visitors are now free to visit and explore the abandoned castle.