Sunday, April 4, 2010


Last weekend we took a drive to Ione where we happened upon this building sitting on the top of a hill that looked to us like a castle. It is, as we later found out, indeed called Preston Castle. In 1890, 230 acres of land were purchased from the Ione Coal and Iron Company for $30 per acre with 100 acres donated. The castle's tower is easily seen from several miles.

The beautiful Romanesque Revival building was built of local sandstone, granite from Folsom, and bricks from Folsom and San Quentin prisons. The cornerstone was laid on December 23, 1890 with 2,500 people in attendance.

On June 13, 1894 the Preston School of Industry accepted its first wards. A few weeks later the school was proclaimed officially open on July 1, 1894. By seeking to rehabilitate youthful offenders, the school offered a progressive alternative to San Quentin.

Preston Castle has slowly deteriorated due to weather, vandalism, old age, and lack of on-going maintenance. The Preston Castle Foundation now has a fifty-year lease on the property, and is spearheading renovations.

Upon full restoration, the foundation's goal is for the castle to be a self-sustaining community resource. Some ideas for its use might include: conference and event space, library, art gallery, restaurant, visitor's center, and specialized youth, adult, and senior services. There is a web site at:


  1. Preston Castle reminds me a lot of the Piatt Castles in my neck of the woods. They did build grand old homes back in the day. Resoration always does my heart good.

  2. what a cool the architecture...and i am a sucker for a castle...

  3. A really fine example -- of a Romanesque form -- It looks like its still in fairly good shape on the outside of the building.
    This style became a truly American style. Still, mostly used for grand, public buildings. Not practical for houses. Became an almost universal style for public buildings: churches, libraries, train stations, courthouses, schools. Rare for houses due to massive construction requirements, mainly for society's elite class.

    Lovely post -- I am all for preserving what few buildings we have in this country ---


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