Ravenscliffe Castle in Hamilton looks like one of the mansions you see in fairy tales, hallmark movies and period pieces.
Built in 1881 by Hamilton architect James Balfour, the mansion has a turret and a five-storey tower that rises alongside the Scottish stone-covered building, which features 12 bedrooms, eight bathrooms and eight fireplaces.
And you can live there — if you can afford the $9 million asking price.
“When you start from the third story and you go up another two levels through a winding staircase and you see the breathtaking views from the top of the tower, it just really puts into perspective the sort of property that this is,” said realtor Robert Cekan, a broker at Ambitious Realty Advisors Inc., which has Ravenscliffe listed.
Castle comes with a 1928 Ford Model A
The property at 26 Ravenscliffe Ave., in the city’s historic downtown neighbourhood of Durand, spans more than 12,000 square feet and is on the market for $8,888,888.
As part of the sale, the owners are selling all of the furniture and a 1928 Ford Model A.
Most people would describe Balfour’s architectural style as a mix between Romanesque and Gothic, Cekan said.
While this “residential castle” wasn’t designed to be protected under siege, he said, the parapet of the tower does have battlements — regularly spaced square openings. This is what makes it a castle, and “what makes it so unique,” Cekan said.
“The amount of material and labour that has gone into this estate in particular would be very difficult to replicate,” he said.
Street was once a private lane
Ravenscliffe Avenue — which used to be a private lane into the estate — leads up to the castle and meets a circular driveway with enough space for 10 cars.
Inside the castle is a grand foyer, Cekan said, with a large staircase that has a powder room beneath it.
“It does definitely feel like it’s a ballroom,” he said.
The estate has hand-carved woodwork, intricate plaster moulding and 12- and 17-foot ceilings throughout, he said. Multiple living rooms are separated by pocket doors.
Cekan said despite the size, the layout is tight-knit, with every room having an original purpose — though some might be outdated. The castle’s dressing rooms have now been converted to en-suite washrooms.
Bay windows pop out of the house from what used to be a guestroom and a stow away closet meant to store visitors’ luggage remains, Cekan said. Much of the hardware in the castle, like dresser handles, is from the 1800s.
Cekan hopes potential buyers appreciate the property for “what it is,” he said.
“We are catering this more to somebody who has an appreciation and love for history, especially because it’s so rare to have an estate like this in such good condition,” he said. “Somebody that will respect and honour it during their ownership is ideally the sort of buyer we would like.”
It has always been a single-family home
The castle was originally built for William J. Copp of Copp Brothers, who owned an iron foundry in the city, Cekan said. It was eventually sold to the family of Sir John Gibson — who was appointed lieutenant governor of Ontario in 1908 — before being sold again in 1930, he said.
While other large houses in the Durand neighbourhood have been portioned into apartments, Cekan said Ravenscliffe has always been a “single-family home.”
Heritage staff with the City of Hamilton says the mansion was built on what was then-known as Concession Street, which was later renamed Aberdeen Avenue.
It’s known colloquially as the “castle,” staff say, due to its design and stature on the raised topography with the Niagara Escarpment as its backdrop.
The building is listed on the city’s municipal heritage register. City staffers say it was identified as a candidate for designation under the Ontario Heritage Act as part of the Durand Neighbourhood Built Heritage Inventory in 2017.
But it isn’t designated yet, said Cekan, meaning residents can make changes. He said the current owners moved into the castle in 2015, and have done electrical updates, plumbing updates, and “a lot” of restoration.