Rising on an eminence near the eastern border of Greenwood, “Castle Clare” was the work of man named Clarence Bradshaw Hoag. Hoag, born Clarence Hogg in Lockeport, Nova Scotia in 1878, moved to Boston, where he worked hard and established the Hoag Press. He sought a home outside of the city.
At the time, Greenwood was an up-and-coming area. After the streetcar line from Boston was established in 1892, many of those who worked in Boston decided that the Greenwood section would provide a healthy home for their families, only a convenient streetcar ride away from the city. Clarence Hoag was one of those commuters. He bought a home on Acorn Avenue, but he wanted more. He wanted a castle. In 1922, he began clearing the top of a hill near his home, and making plans for his future. Construction began in earnest after the Crash of ’29. The 1930 federal census shows the 53-year old Clarence Hoag and his wife Maude, along with three sons and four daughters, living in the house on Acorn Avenue. As the Great Depression began, the Hoag family began to build.
Finally, in 1949, after 27 years of planning and building, it was complete. Clarence Hoag had been the architect and builder of the structure, assisted by his sons and his relatives. He named it “Castle Clare” after himself, after the custom of giving family names to castles in days gone by.
It was a small castle, but it appeared to be much larger because of its placement and the taper of its walls. After its long period of construction was complete, it was an amazing sight. The exterior were made of exterior plywood coated in gray asbestos shingles which looked remarkably like stone from a distance. The main feature of the interior was a baronial hall, with a balcony for an orchestra, and other balconies. The interior was adorned with paintings of the Hoag ancestors, along with suits of armor, tapestry banners and other medieval-esque embellishments entirely in keeping with the character of a castle. The living quarters comprised 18 rooms, arranged on both sides of the hall. More than 100 windows dotted the façade, and the structure held many staircases. It was an instant landmark.
Clarence Hoag had hoped that his castle would be a retreat for his family for many years but sadly, after his death in 1966, the structure was divided into apartments. Curiously, it was totally empty when it caught fire on October 5, 1974. According to Fire Department records, the cause of the fire was vandalism.
The castle still lives on in the memories of many and we often receive requests for information or photographs of the curious castle in Greenwood.