Manresa Castle

What is known today as the Manresa Castle, was built in 1892. The castle was built as the personal residence of Charles and Kate Eisenbeis. Eisenbeis was a business owner and prominent member of the community. His holdings included a bakery, brewery, brick works, bank, lumber mill and a hotel.

The community elected Charles Eisenbeis as the first mayor in 1878, when Port Townsend was incorporated as the first city in Jefferson County. This new position prompted Eisenbeis to build the largest private home Port Townsend had ever seen, consisting of thirty rooms. The castle was designed in a similar fashion to the ones Eisenbeis had seen in his native land, Prussia.

Eisenbeis used bricks from his own company to build the twelve inch walls, and the roof was made of slate. Inside were exquisite tiled fireplaces and hand crafted woodwork installed by German artisans. Locals referred to the residence as the Eisenbeis Castle.

Exterior View of Manresa Castle Reproduced under a Creative Commons license with the kind permission of Michael D Martin on Flickr

Eisenbeis legacy

Charles Eisenbeis died in 1902. His widow remarried a few years later and left the castle. Except for a caretaker, the castle stood empty for nearly twenty years.

In 1925, the castle was bought by a Seattle attorney. His plan was to let nuns teaching in Seattle use the castle as a vacation home. This didn't work out too well, so he sold it in 1927 to a group of Jesuit priests. The priests used the building as a training college for sixteen years. Their last year of study was focused on theological and moral virtues, and the counsels of perfection.

In 1928, the Jesuit priests built an additional wing to house a chapel and extra sleeping rooms, as well as an elevator. The cost of the Otis elevator was said to be $3,400 – quite a tidy sum for those days.

Once the addition was finished, the Jesuits covered the bricks of the original building with stucco to give the entire castle a more uniform appearance. They named the new building "Manresa Hall" after the village in Spain where Ignatius of Loyola formulated the fundamentals of the Society of Jesus - known as the Jesuits.

In 1968, the Jesuits left Manresa Hall and the building was converted into a hotel. The new owners combined the "Manresa" from the Jesuits and the "Castle" from the Eisenbeis days and called the hotel Manresa Castle.

The castle has seen three different owners since the Jesuits left in 1968. Each new owner has done his share to lovingly maintain the Victorian elegance, while renovating to bring the building up to modern standards. One such modernization involved adding bathrooms. There were only three when the Jesuits left, now there are forty-three.

The Modern Day Castle

The Castle is considered a true gem in Washington State for fine dining, catering services and for hosting a variety of special events. The magnificent Castle and the beautifully landscaped grounds provide a storybook setting for all types social events such as weddings, concerts, conferences and corporate functions.

The extraordinary special events staff takes care of all of the minor details to help make your event a total success.

When you visit the castle, make sure to plan to stay for several days. There is no way you can possibly see everything Port Townsend has to offer in one day. Whatever time of year you decide to visit, there is a very good chance you will find a festival. Nearly every weekend Port Townsend is host to some type of special event or celebration.

Edwardian Cocktail Lounge, Manresa Castle Reproduced under a Creative Commons license with the kind permission of Michael D Martin on Flickr

Other Places to Look Out For

For the outdoor enthusiast, there are plenty of fabulous nature trails along the waterfront within the city and in the nearby Fort Worden State Park. You can traverse the glorious beach and forest trails at your own pace.

Port Townsend is home to two of the finest wineries of the northwest, Sorenson Cellars and FairWinds. Stop by their tasting rooms before continuing on to the seaport. The nationally acclaimed Victorian seaport takes you right back into the nineteenth century. You will feel like you stepped into a history book as you stroll down the historic downtown area and meet the talented and highly respected marine craftsmen.

Your seaport stroll will not be complete unless you stop by the Key City Fish Company. This old fashioned fish market is the best place in town for fresh, locally caught seafood.

If biking is more your thing, you are in luck. Port Townsend is a bicycle friendly town the offers plenty of bike lanes throughout the city. And since you are right on the Pacific Ocean, make sure to check out the fascinating creatures of the sea. You can visit the Marine Science Center and then grab a seat on a whale watching tour.

The Port Townsend Guide for tourists offers a detailed list of all of the sights and adventures available during your stay at the Manresa Castle.

When planning your visit Manresa Castle, don't forget to bring your golf clubs. The century old Port Townsend Golf Club is open to everyone. The National Golf Foundation describes the course as being beginner friendly as well as a challenging course for more advanced players. You will experience many features not often seen in a 9-hole municipal course, such as tree-framed dog legs, strategic bunkering and severe elevation changes.

The PT Golf Course is the most affordable and the driest on the entire Olympic Peninsula.

Before dinner at the fabulous Castle Key Seafood & Steak Restaurant, which serves up the best fresh, local seafood and melt-in-your mouth steaks, stop in and unwind at the Lounge. The Manresa Lounge is open evenings from 4 pm and the restaurant opens at 5 pm. The Manresa Castle restaurant and lounge are both closed on Mondays.

Covering these few sights in one day is nearly impossible. You will probably need at least two days, especially if you love golf. And this doesn't even cover half of everything this fascinating little town has to offer. So, when you plan your visit to Manresa Castle, plan to stay a while.

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