Monarch Butterflies Call Dr. Erwin’s Castle Ruins Home

THE EXPERIENCE OF VISITING

There is an infectious joy here at Crestmere, the castle home built in 1900 by Dr. Erwin.  It’s felt immediately upon arrival.  A welcoming warmth glows from your core, as you breathe in this healing, innocent and holistic energy.

“For decades Dr. Erwin was one of old Mauch Chunk’s* most beloved physicians, administering to the town’s wealthiest as well as it’s poorest.”

— John C. LaRizzio of Carbon County Magazine

(Today Mauch Chunk, PA is called Jim Thorpe, PA)

Native plant-life is flourishing.  I’m always amazed by the resiliency of plants that are able to grow from the spaces between masonry.  See the happy saplings on the turrets?  So enchanting.

What an amazing space for al fresco community yoga, meditation or art classes.

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See the Monarch Butterflies on the purple flower (called ‘Butterfly Bush’ or ‘English Butterfly’) in the lower left corner.  The whole site is covered with these gorgeous flowers and it has become an unofficial butterfly habitat.

In the short time I was taking photos, I saw dozens of butterflies.  More than I’ve ever seen together at one time apart from Disneynature’s Wings of Life (clip below).



Here’s another shot with a Monarch on the flower in the lower left corner.  I sincerely hope that if any development occurs here, the butterflies’ habitat needs are conserved, as Monsanto has killed almost all of the butterflies.

For a town as tourism focused as Jim Thorpe, PA, creating a Butterfly sanctuary at such a unique, and historical, location would introduce eco-tourism to their portfolio.



Not only are Butterflies lovely little creatures, but they are also critical to human existence.

“Pollinators are critical to the Nation’s economy, food security, and environmental health. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year, and helps ensure that our diets include ample fruits, nuts, and vegetables. This tremendously valuable service is provided to society by honey bees, native bees and other insect pollinators, birds, and bats.”                   — The White House, May 2015

According to the same article, in June 2014, a White House Task Force was formed to:

  1. Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels;
  2. Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration; and
  3. Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.

There are campaigns all over the country encouraging people to plant Milk Weed, Butterfly Bush and other plants critical to the Monarch’s survival on their properties.

You can get free Milk Weed seeds at LiveMonarch.com or from MonarchWatch.org


Dr. Erwin was known as a great doctor who cared for everyone in the community, no matter their status or ability to pay.  He took the Hippocratic oath seriously and routinely risked his own health and well-being to care for the ill.

Crestmere as it appeared from 1900-1955 (photo courtesy of freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com)

After Dr. Erwin passed away in his beloved Crestmere in 1924.  The castle was empty until the 1930’s when the Showalter family called it home until selling it in the late 1940’s.  They never loved it the way Dr. Erwin did.  Apparently, Mrs. Erwin didn’t either due to frequent flooding in the basement.

In the 1950’s all but what you see in these photos was demolished and sold for repurposing in homes under construction in the area.  It’s wonderful that they didn’t send pieces of history to the landfill.  Sadly, repurposing doesn’t happen as much as we would all like it to.

“It is estimated that anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the national solid waste stream is building-related waste and only 20 percent of construction waste or demolition debris (C&D) is actually recycled.” 

— aia.org (Am. Instititute of Architects)

I can’t help but imagine a sad spectral Dr. Erwin watching his beloved home being torn apart.  Powerless to do anything about it.

I love looking at the placement of the windows in the standing facade while imagining what rooms they may have looked in upon.

To the far left of the ruins is a small free-standing turret with a big butterfly bush growing on top.

I believe this is the well where a young girl drown in 1935.

The land is filled with natural springs.  Springs, a wishing well, a castle and butterflies.  It’s like wandering into an idyllic setting for an enchanted fairy tale.  I just needed my talking animal friend and a flowing gown.

I love the stone wall which runs the length of Hill Road below the castle.

Looks like Periwinkle in the above photo, surrounding the sign.  There is fairly modern looking landscaping which is only slightly overgrown and mixed in with native plants.  How mysterious since the house has been but a shell for over 60 years.

The photo above has Hosta in the lower left corner and an evergreen shrub in front of the rock wall.

The photo below has a lovely evergreen tree, reminiscent of Charlie Brown’s tree, and on the left what looks like magnolia.


WAYFINDING

GPS:

Hill Road

Jim Thorpe, PA 18229

Hill Road is off of West Broadway, which is the main street in Jim Thorpe.  The ruins are 1/10 of a mile up the hill.  Suddenly, you’ll see a stone wall and the remains of the castle on your right.  It is possible to see the entire site, from the road, without trespassing.
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(photography by C.A. Moss, unless otherwise noted.)


Historical Info Source: Dr. Erwin’s Castle by Jack Sterling, CarbonCountyMagazine.com


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