Social and Cultural History

Kip's Castle

History of Kip's Castle

Kip’s Castle was built in 1905 by Charlotte and Frederic Kip on the crest of the First Mountain in Montclair and Verona with panoramic views of New York City.  The 9,000-square foot castle features: thirty spacious rooms, vaulted ceilings, six ornate fireplaces, and a two-story 6,000 square-foot carriage house constructed of local trap rock trimmed with sandstone.  Kip’s Castle stayed in the Kip family until 1926, after Charlotte’s death. 

In 1926, Signono Munoz, an immigrant from Chile and Montclair resident, bought the castle.  In 1946, the property was passed on to his sons James Redman Munoz and Robert Munoz, Sr.  From 1945 to 1971, the Ingram family also lived and worked in Kip’s Castle, taking care of elderly members of the Munoz family, and doing maintenance on the grounds.  Eventually, the Munoz family left Montclair, and the property sold to Peter Purvis in 1971. 

Purvis renovated the building and rented out units to a city planner, Newark detective, and many others.  In 1981, the property was sold to the highest bidder, the Indian guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and was occupied by Rajneesh and his followers until the building was sold and used by the Schwartz, Tobia, & Stanziale Law Firm in 1984. 

From 2007 to the present, with funding from a Green Acre historic preservation grant, Essex County purchased Kip’s Castle with plans to revitalize the property and make it available for public programming. 

This oral history collection features interviews from descendants of the Kip, Munoz and Ingram families, as well as other castle tenants and historical eyewitnesses to the development, changes and history of the castle, its residents and the surrounding area.  The accounts describe one of the most unique and prestigious properties in the State of New Jersey.  The experiences document a century of historical change in New Jersey and at 22 Crestwood Road.

The Rutgers Oral History Archives has partnered with the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs within the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.  ROHA received a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities in 2014-2015.

 Kip's Castle (Photo courtesy of the Essex County Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs)

Photo courtesy of the Essex County Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs

Kip's Castle Oral History Project