Depression-Era Restaurant Was Labor of Love
A look back on how Hyeholde came to be
If you have ever visited Hyeholde, you know that the restaurant is a small castle –- literally.
Hyeholde was designed to look and function like a medieval mansion, and it may be the only eatery in the region with a "Great Hall." When I first visited a few years ago, I was astonished by the half-timbered walls, whitewashed stonework, heavy wooden doors, small towers and latticed windows.
There are modern amenities as well: A dining room boasts a wall of plate-glass windows, and there's an elegant carport. Plus, of course, electricity.
Beholding Hyeholde begs the question: Who decided to build a castle in the middle of Moon?
The idea was cooked up by William Kryskill, an oddball romantic, who promised a "castle" to his new wife Clara. Unlike most newlyweds who make outrageous promises, Kryskill spent seven years building the fortress by hand. Kryskill went so far as to dismantle a stone barn and reuse the material for his own masonry. What's more, his project began and ended with in Great Depression.
This unlikely tale is recounted in Kryskill's book, The Story of Hyeholde, a hardcover volume published by Dorrance & Company in 1982.
Any question one might have about building a chateau, Kryskill's book answers; The pages chronicle the placement of every beam and keystone. Told in seasonal chapters, The Story of Hyeholde begins in 1931 –- when Kryskill first pledged to build his wife a castle –- and ends in 1939, when the project was completed.
Hyeholde is famous for its menu, which has offered fine dining since the house's earliest days. The Hyeholde kitchen serves old-fashioned delicacies, such as Wild Boar Riblets and Cervena Elk, plus progressive dishes like the Vegetarian Feast of the Season. The Great Hall is available for regular dinners and desserts, and for truly special occasions (opulent weddings are common), the Round Room is a private dining room. Whatever a diner chooses, each visit means a regal feast fit for a castle.
But if you want to learn the true Story of Hyeholde, you have to read the book (ask the maitre d' for details).
It is hard to appreciate the labor of Kryskill's task before reading about stones laid, lumber fitted, and the mysterious house nearby, which was allegedly haunted.
You may also examine the black-and-white photographs of Hyeholde's interior, back when the little stronghold was first built. Considering how much time has passed, it's remarkable how little has changed: The walls are still decked with fine art, the refectory (that is, "dining room") is still filled with wood tables, and the windows still open to wooded vistas. Moon has seen lots of development since Kryskill's heyday, but Hyeholde's grounds remain pure. Building a castle may have sounded like a mad scheme, but the romance has survived to this day.