Three Mini Castles in New York with Lake George Views

Three miniature castles can be found among the forest lining Lake George in New York. These have jaw-dropping views overlooking the lake and Adirondack mountains.

Highlands Castle, surrounded by forest, at dusk.

Highlands Castle, shown in the front, can sleep four to eight people.

Highlands Castle

Highlands Castle, a hidden private estate among the trees is just three minutes away from Bolton Landing in Upstate New York. John Lavender II (67), who built three miniature castles on the estate, told Insider that he purchased the land in 1982.

All three were kept private as a residence for Lavender and Jason, their sons, and their wife Yvonne. However, they have been welcoming guests since 2010. “magical”Castles offering picturesque views of Lake George

Highlands Castle ($6,995 per night), The Castle Gatehouse, or The Castle Cottage (both $11,145 per night) can be booked directly through. WebsiteOr Airbnb.

Insider heard from Lavender that he had promised Jason five years prior to buying the estate that he would build him one.

John Lavender II and his son Jason pictured in 1983.

Lavender with his son Jason, taken in 1983, one year after he purchased the land.

Highlands Castle

Lavender, a Troy native, stated that he was just recently divorced at the time. He lived in a Clifton Park share-house with five other men. “It wasn’t an environment to raise a three-year-old,” Lavender told Insider. “I took him aside and shared with him, this is not our home, this is temporary.”

“I made the promise and I said I’m going to show my son that if I speak words to him, I’ll follow through no matter what it takes,”He added. 

Lavender kept his word and built three miniature castles almost entirely by himself.

John Lavender on the foundation of what would turn into Highlands Castle in the 1980s.

Lavender had a dream to build a home and spend as much time as possible with his son.

Highlands Castle

“I had no interest in castles,” Lavender told Insider. He couldn’t stop drawing castle designs when he started planning for a home on the land that he had bought for himself and his son. Lavender claims that the promise he made five-years ago remained with him. 

Lavender stated that he did not have any experience in architectural design and construction. Lavender said that all he knew was that his son wanted to live in a place where his friends could come over and where he could spend his time with them the same way as his father, a Methodist minister.

Lavender started a nonprofit to raise money for schools across the country in 1978 to help him achieve his dream lifestyle.


Lavender spent many years building each castle one by one. “two or three walls at a time.”

The foundation for Highlands Castle, which Lavender started building in 1982.

Lavender was only able to get help from her friends and a few other hired workers.

Highlands Castle

Lavender made the blueprints for each miniature castle during the design and construction process. 

“We didn’t even need stamped architectural blueprints back then, things were a little different and not what they are today,”He stated. “I would have an oversize piece of white poster paper and everything sketched out and all the dimensions written out.”

He said that he would build two to three walls per day with the help of friends and some hired workers. “Then I would go back and draw something else for the next day’s work,”He added. 

The estate was a private residence for nearly three decades until Lavender decided to open his doors to visitors after a near-fatal accident.

The vestibule area at Highlands Castle.

Highlands Castle’s vestibule.

Highlands Castle

Lavender claims that he fell from a ladder on August 23, 2008 while trying to place a tarp under a section roof being redone at Highlands Castle. He fell on the concrete terrace off his balance, and came down like an angel. “sledgehammer”On his right leg which was shattered in 20 spots. 

His wife, Yvonne who he met in 1986, and was married at the property in 1993, found him moments later. Lavender was in a wheelchair for eight months and began to think about how it would feel to share their home with others. “Being able to catch up on lost income, and just reinventing myself,”He described it as an intriguing prospect. 

Lavender made the decision to open his home to the public after much thought and discussion with his wife Yvonne.

John Lavender (right) and his wife Yvonne (left).

Lavender and Yvonne are pictured in 1987, one-year after they first met.

Highlands Castle

Yvonne was a hospitality professional, Lavender stated. She had worked as an assistant manager at The Greenbrier in West Virginia, and at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. They met at The Sagamore in Bolton Landing in 1986.

Lavender, Yvonne and their initial hesitations were understandable. However, they both said that they were stunned by the results. “grateful” “kind”People who visit them.

“Every guest that stays here will say to me, thank you for opening up your home to us,”He stated. “My response now is just, ‘Thank you a hundred times more for finding us and staying here.'”

They run the business today, they stated, and only hire a cleaning crew when guests are staying. 

However, he “had no intention”Lavender felt a sense of purpose when he opened his home to guests.

The front entrance of Highlands Castle

Highlands Castle is open to guests.

Highlands Castle

“It’s my purpose now,”Lavender spoke of inviting guests into his miniature castles. “I’m the steward of the property.”

Lavender indicated that Jason, his son has now moved into his own house with his family. However, he said that Yvonne and Yvonne have remained. They live on the property but they now live in Highlands Castle. “the main house,”According to Lavender, this is his favorite. 

Highlands Castle, the largest property that is available for rent on the estate, can be booked here. It was also built by Lavender in 1982.

Highlands Castle from a worms-eye view.

Highlands Castle, the largest miniature-castle on the estate sleeps eight guests.

Highlands Castle

According to the estate website Highlands Castle can sleep up to eight people and is the largest mini-castle in the country. Guests can stay in The Royal Bedroom or The King’s Suite. A terrace overlooking Lake George is located around the building. 

The site lists rental prices for 4 guests at $6,995 and 395 each additional.

Highlands Castle’s interiors are just as castle-like than its exterior.

The fireplace in The Grand Hall at Highlands Castle.

Lavender decorated Highlands Castle’s interior with an assortment of antiques.

Highlands Castle

The Great Hall contains a variety of antiques Lavender has sourced from before he started construction in 1980s. This is one of the many benefits to renting the castle. 

“I did everything kind of backwards, I bought all these antique suits of armor, antique gothic furniture, and light fixtures,”Insider heard from him, and he explained that he began designing and building castles using inspiration from these pieces.

The Great Hall today “the heart of the castle”Here guests can enjoy a formal dinner with views of Lake George. 


Lavender claims that a Romeo and Juliet stained glass door is one of his most treasured antiques. He says it is approximately 250 years old.

The Romeo and Juliet stained glass doors built into Highlands Castle.

Lavender was told by the previous owner that the stained glass door belonged to a Vanderbilt family member.

Highlands Castle

Lavender claimed that he purchased the stained-glass doors from an antique dealer on Cape Cod 45 years ago. They were owned by the dealer for 59 years. He told Lavender that they were Tiffany’s original design for a Vanderbilt family house. The doors are now part of Highlands Castle. 

They weren’t initially for sale. But Lavender stated that he called the dealer to see if anything had changed. “A few months later, I got a call,” Lavender said, “and he said ‘John, I kept your name and my health is failing, I remember your story and I’m calling to say these doors are for sale for the very first time.'”


Lavender stated that he didn’t know when he purchased the land in 1982 that it had one of the most beautiful views of Lake George from the mountaintop.

The "yard" at Highlands Castle looks out onto a spectacular view of Lake George, New York.

Lavender II stated that his castles had the “most spectacular view of Lake George.”

Highlands Castle

In 1982, he claimed that he had created a footpath leading to the view. He invited his father (a Methodist minister) and his mother to see it. He added that they were both skeptical of his decision to buy a plot of land in the mountains just an hour from Clifton Park. 

“With picnic baskets in hand, they walked my path, put the picnic baskets down, turned around, and said, ‘Now I see why you bought this property,'” Lavender told Insider. “My father was proud of what was put here, he would call me ‘my son the castle builder.'”

The Castle Cottage is located just steps from Highlands Castle, built in 1995.

The Castle Cottage and Highlands Castle pictured.

You can find the Highlands Castle Cottage and Castle Cottage just a few steps away from each other.

Highlands Castle

The Castle Cottage can accommodate four to six guests and is just a few steps from Highlands Castle. For $1,145 per night for four people, and $125 per person for each additional guest, a stay is available. 

The cottage is just like Highlands Castle and has an outdoor terrace that offers views of Lake George as well as the Adirondack Mountains. 

According to the website The Castle Cottage features two cozy bedrooms as well as its own kitchen. 

Bolton Landing is just three minutes away from the Castle Cottage and the other castles.

The entry foyer of The Castle Cottage and the exterior.

The Castle Cottage was constructed using stones from a local quarry.

Highlands Castle

Highlands Castle does not offer any goods or services. However, Lavender stated that Bolton Landing, a hamlet just three minutes away, is home to a variety of boutiques as well as restaurants. 

The following is an extract from the Warren County Tourism Department WebsiteYou can find a lot of watersport activities in the vicinity of Lake George. There are many waterfront restaurants, hiking trails and marinas. 

The Castle Gatehouse is the third property in the Highlands Castle estate. It has a Grand Room, as well as a dining room filled with antiquities.

The exterior of The Castle Gatehouse.

You can also rent the Castle Gatehouse on Airbnb.

Highlands Castle

The Castle Gatehouse sleeps up to seven people. Stays are $1,145 per night for four people and $125 each additional person. 

According to the website the gatehouse is decorated with antiques that Lavender has purchased back in the 1980s and boasts high-vaulted ceilings. 

The Castle Gatehouse was built in 1988.

The downstairs ensuite at The Castle Gatehouse (left) and the Grand Room (right).

The Castle Gatehouse has three bedrooms and a Grand Room.

Highlands Castle

The Castle Gatehouse was completed in 1988 and offers three bedrooms. Two of them have king-sized beds. 

According to the website, the Grand Room of this miniature castle has reclining sofas and the kitchen area houses antique chairs. 

Lavender’s ultimate goal is to have the castles as a family.

John Lavender II and his son Jason next to tent where they stayed before the castles were built.

Lavender dreams of keeping the castles, which were promised to his son in 1978, in the family.

Highlands Castle

“My fantasy would be to have my son inherit the property and my grandson and granddaughter to be here after that,” Lavender told Insider. 

But, he stated, “this might not be their world.”He’s content with them for now. “chasing and realizing”They can pursue their dreams even if they are not at Highlands Castle. 


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