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Birnam House was designed by noted architect Bruce Price for Mr. & Mrs. Robert Schell, wealthy New Yorkers captivated by Northfield's views. Completed around 1900 it had 125 rooms and a private chapel. To develop the property into a full-fledged estate, the Schells bought up the surrounding land. The result was a gilded age castle with a 125-acre estate, complete with a sunken garden, artificial lakes, and landscaping. The Schells used Birnam House during the summer months until Robert's death in 1928. It was then deeded over to Northfield Hotel, becoming the pioneer station of the Youth Hostel organization.
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