IONE, Calif. (KTXL) — Just an hour away from Sacramento, is a rust orange sandstone castle, perched on a hilltop overlooking a small town, that holds more than 60-year of unpleasant memories.

Brief History

Preston School of Industry was opened on June 13, 1894 with Preston Castle serving as the main building for the school. It is one of the best examples of Romanesque Revival architecture.

The school would serve as a reformatory school for juvenile offenders as well as wards of the state from 1894 until 1960, when more modern buildings were used for the school.

Not wanting to see the castle be demolished, a group of local women fought the state to keep Preston Castle standing.

The state agreed to keep it standing, but would not maintain the building.

It would not be until 2001 that the Preston Castle Foundation would enter a 55-year lease of the building from the state. In 2014, the foundation earned the deed of ownership from the state.

Today, the foundation holds year-round events to raise money to go towards rebuilding the aging century-old castle.

One of the castles more popular events is the Preston Castle Haunt due to the buildings well known haunted past.

Operational History

The first floor was designed as a reception and Director’s room, general office, sitting room, a butler’s pantry, a dining room, employee bathroom, pharmacy and more.

The second floor had a reading room, library, 12 apartments, a school room and a bathroom.

The third floor had 12 rooms and the fourth floor had six rooms.

During its operation the school would encompass 1,000 acres, 750 acres being farmland. It would house at least 800 wards and employed 200 people.

Exactly how many boys walked through the doors of Preston Castle is nearly impossible to gauge as many of the school’s records were purged following its closing in 1960.

The first seven juvenile offenders of the castle is known as they were transferred over from San Quentin Prison.

Those juvenile offenders included: James Carner, 16; Alexander Cassulo, 17; Alfred Jacobs, 17; Walter Kavanaugh, 17; James O’Donnell, 16; James Phillips, 18; and Burt Starr, 17.

Life inside the walls of the castles was one of disease, according to reports from the schools physician A.L. Adams.

Adams said that he was not surprised at the amount of “hospital inmates” due to the condition the boys were committed in and the diseases making their way through the castle.

Reports show that tuberculosis, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, epidemic influenza, tonsillitis, malarial fever, pneumonia and other diseases made their way through the school.

The first of many reported deaths at the school was illness based. Adolf Anton, 18, died of a pulmonary edema.

Records would show that at least 15 other boys would die from diseases like; tuberculosis, paralytic dementia and meningitis.

Illness was not the only cause of death, as several boys who attempted to escape were fatally shot by guards.

Joseph Morgan, Herman Huber, Sam Goins and Ray Baker were shot and killed during separate escape attempts across 25 years.

Deaths amongst staff were rare but one of the most notable is the death of Anna Corbin, which to this day no one has been convicted for her murder.

Corbin was found in the basement storeroom hidden behind rugs in a half-sitting position in the corner. Reports say that she had injuries indicating she was choked and bludgeoned to death.

Her cause of death was determined to be from a skull fracture due to her head hitting the concrete floor of the basement.

Today there are around 18 graves at the castles graveyard, which is located in the area CAL FIRE Academy and not open to public. Fifteen of those graves are accounted as the 15 boys who died from illnesses.

Preston Castle today

The Preston Castle Foundation is now working to preserve, rehabilitate and continue the use of this historic site.

On the foundations website the state that they are still wanting to; begin structural stabilization projects, improve gutters, downspouts and fire sprinklers, and conduct an economic feasibility study.

Preston Castle is listed as California State Historic Landmark No. 867 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Starting Oct. 14, the foundation will be holding their Preston Castle Haunt which is a haunted and non-historical tour of this more than a century-old building.