The Gingerbread Castle, originally a fairy tale themed amusement park, is located in Hamburg, New Jersey. The castle was designed in 1928 by the Austrian architect and set designer, Joseph Urban, and commissioned by F.H. Bennett. Bennett purchased the property in 1921 to expand the operations of his company, F.H Biscuits (a dog biscuit manufacturer).
Bennett decided to create his fairytale castle after seeing Urban’s set design work at a performance of “Hansel and Gretel” by the Metropolitan Opera. Also, Bennett drew inspiration from memories of reading the Brothers Grimms’ fairy tales as a child.
The castle opened in 1930, and it quickly became a popular tourist destination. Unfortunately, by the early 1980s, the castle started to slowly deteriorate. During the past several years, the property has gone through several transformations. At separate points, the property has been used as a haunted house and as a nightclub.
In 2004, Frank Hinger, a New Jersey resident, purchased the property. Hinger started the restoration process with assistance from grants, fundraisers, and supporters of the castle. The property eventually became too expensive for him to fully revitalize, and Hinger decided to sell it. A real estate developer bought the property with intentions to continue the restoration process. So far, not much has been done, and the castle is falling into a state of disrepair. Visitors should note that the property is currently closed and fenced off. The castle can still be seen from the road.
*Update: We recently learned that the property was purchased in 2018 by Don Oriolo, a New Jersey resident. Oriolo has been working from old photographs to bring the castle back to life.