Historic Luxury Homes In Greenwich CT- Ward’s Castle
Known as Ward’s Castle, or as the William E. Ward House as it is listed in the National Register of Historical Places, Greenwich’s distinctive “Castle” is one of Greenwich’s most unique and innovative historic luxury homes.
It was built by William Ward, a prominent mechanical engineer and inventor with his friend Robert Mook in the 1870’s as the first reinforced concrete structure in the United States. He wanted to demonstrate reinforced concrete as a construction technique that would produce a truly fireproof structure.
Ward’s Castle sits in a residential district on an eight acre lot astride the Connecticut, New York border. The design is an example of a combined Second Empire and Gothic Revival style. It’s constructed almost entirely from reinforced concrete except for wood framing around the doors and windows. Rising from the southeast corner is a four-story octagonal machicolated tower with parapets giving it its distinctive “Castle” appearance.
As the first reinforced concrete structure in the United States, scholars since the 1870’s have hailed its innovative approach calling it “One of the most remarkable achievements of building art in the century” and “a technical tour de force”. Ward’s Castle introduced to the building industry a new type of construction technique that quickly spread across the country and around the world.
It has over a dozen rooms. The ground floor has a central hallway with a drawing room, reception room and dining room. The second floor also has a main hallway that leads to three bedrooms and a library. The mansard roofs are made out of solid concrete and hollow spaces in the floors and walls are connected to a furnace providing central heating.
Ward’s Castle served as the Ward’s family luxury home for four generations. It was then sold to Mort Walker in 1976 who opened it as the Museum of Cartoon Art.
Mort Walker is best known for the Beetle Bailey Comic strip introduced in 1951 depicted Beetle’s soldier life and his arch nemesis – Sergeant Snorkel. While in residence at the castle, Walker published The “Lexicon of Comicana” written as a satirical look at the visual devices cartoonists use in their craft.
He invented a vocabulary called “Symbolia” that included terms like “Emanata” that are the lines drawn around the head to indicate shock or surprise, “Squeans” to describe the circles and starbursts that appear around the cartoon character’s head to indicate dizziness or intoxication, or “Briffits” that are the clouds of dust that hang in the spot of a swiftly departing character.
Beetle Baily is probably best remembered for being constantly assaulted by abusive language from Sergeant Snorkel that appeared in the cartoon dialogue bubbles as #@$#! Walker called “Grawlixes” in place of profanities. His book “The Lexicon of Comicana” published by Walker during his residence at Ward’s Castle has been used to educate cartoon art students ever since in the essential tools of their craft.
Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey received the National Cartoonists Society’s award twice during the Vietnam War in 1966 and 1969, he was inducted into the Museum of Cartoon Art Hall of Fame and decorated for Distinguished Civilian Service by the US Army for bringing humor to the ironies of military life.
Ward’s Castle was sold in 1992 and returned to being a Greenwich CT private luxury home. It is widely regarded as a milestone in structural engineering and is jointly designated as a National Historic Civil and Concrete Engineering Landmark by the American Concrete Institute and the American Society of Civil Engineers.