Castle of the Week 114 - Manresa Castle, Washington
Manresa Castle is in Port Townsend, Washington, and was built in 1892 as the home of Charles and Kate Eisenbeis. Charles Eisenbeis was a Prussian baker, who immigrated to Port Townsend in 1858. He made his fortune supplying crackers and bread to sailing ships, then branched out into other ventures, becoming a prominent businessman in town. He was elected as the first mayor of Port Townsend in 1878. The Eisenbeis’s designed their home to resemble a German castle. It had 30 rooms, and was referred to as the “Eisenbeis Castle”. Standing three stories tall, the walls are twelve inches thick, and the roof is made of slate. The interior features wood paneling and numerous fireplaces.
Charles died in 1902, and after Kate remarried, the home stood empty for 20 years except for a caretaker. In 1925 the property was purchased for use as a vacation spot for Seattle nuns. When that idea didn’t flourish, it was sold two years later for $7000 to Jesuit priests for a training college, the Tertianship for Jesuits in the California Province. Tertianship is the final year of Jesuit training, a time of prayer and reflection. In 1928 they added a wing with a chapel and 30 dormitory rooms, along with an elevator. To make the new addition match the older building, they stuccoed the entire façade. They called it “Manresa Hall” in honor of the Spanish town where Ignatius Loyola founded their order. The Jesuits remained until 1968. After they left, the property was turned into a hotel, and the two previous names were combined to make its current name, Manresa Castle.
The owners of the hotel have returned it to its former Victorian glory, the final renovations being completed in March 2005. The 43 bathrooms that exist today owe their thanks to the making of the movie, “An Officer and a Gentleman.” The crews’ contracts specified that each person would have a room with its own bathroom, and when they ran out of rooms at other hotels, the studio cut a deal with Manresa Castle and arranged for them to be built.
Legends about Manresa Castle include two ghosts who have taken up residence. One is that of a priest who hung himself in the left tower after committing a cardinal sin and then making his peace with God. The second is the ghost of a young woman who leaped to her death from a third storey window after her lover failed to meet her. While odd things have occurred, such as doors opening or closing, or lights turning on and off, the stories of these two ghosts are false, made up to amuse tourists by a bartender who once worked at the castle.
Write-up and photograph by Kester*.
*) denotes a former staff member.