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It Happens Here: Groton's Secret Castle

GROTON (CBS) - Settled in 1655, Groton, Massachusetts was destroyed 20 years later in King Philip's War, one of the bloodiest conflicts in U.S. history. It was later rebuilt and is now the home of two private schools, Lawrence Academy and The Groton School.

The views in Groton are hard to beat and easy to take in. Thirty-percent of land in the town is protected with one hundred miles of walking trails.

But if you can make it to the top of the famous Gibbett Hill, you will find something uniquely Groton.

A medieval castle.

Not the find you would expect in this storybook New England town. It's one of Groton's most beloved, secret hot spots.

"You can't see it when you drive by, when you are driving down the road you don't know it's up here," Kara Fossey, the executive director of the town's historical society, told WBZ-TV.

bancroft's castle groton
Bancroft's Castle in Groton. (WBZ-TV)

Known as Bancroft's Castle, it was built in 1906 by General William Bancroft.  The general in the Spanish American War was also the Mayor of Cambridge and a Massachusetts State Representative.

The castle was a gift to his wife.

"He wanted to build an eye-catching building in the most eye-catching place in Groton on top of the hill," Fossey said.

But the castle was never finished and in 1918 it was turned into a private hospital where injured soldiers from World War I were treated in the open air.

Eventually bought by the Groton Hunt Club, it almost was destroyed by fireworks in 1930 on the 4th of July during a party. The wood and insides burned, but the stone structure remained.

Now, what's left is left for all to enjoy.  It's a spot perfect for history buffs or young explorers looking to find a piece of Massachusetts history that feels nothing like Massachusetts.

The land is protected and owned by the town of Groton.

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