In the sweet but fleeting dreams of Feargus B. Squire, the empty stone building that sits in what's now a Cleveland Metropark was to be a gatekeeper's house on a grand estate nestled into the wooded hills above the Chagrin River.

In the sweet but fleeting dreams of Feargus B. Squire, the empty stone building that sits in what's now a Cleveland Metropark was to be a gatekeeper's house on a grand estate nestled into the wooded hills above the Chagrin River.

In the 1890s, you weren't really an oil magnate unless you had a country estate where you could hunt, drink and build giant fires. And a country estate was simply a bunch of land and a shack if you didn't have a nice stone house where your gatekeeper lived.

So Squire, an executive at Standard Oil, began to build River Farm Estate, the kind of pastoral playground every industrial baron dreamed about. That gatekeeper's house, he figured, would really pull the estate together.

But he never finished his plan.

The only thing he really finished was the gatehouse.

Though standing today without ceilings or stairs, primp or polish, the stone house once boasted exquisite woodwork, elegant fireplaces and a proto-man cave filled with stuffed animal busts and books that were most likely about hunting.

Leaded windows overlooked an emerald valley of oak, maple and pine severed delicately by ravines and small streams. The Squires used the house as a weekend retreat until the early 1900s, then lost interest.

Reasons why they left swirl like a Lake Erie storm among those who ponder the castle during historical tours or walk through it to access the hiking trails in North Chagrin Reservation.

Some say Mrs. Squire was driven mad by nightmares of wild beasts. Others believe she wandered the halls one restless night, became startled by a hunting trophy and fell to her death from an upstairs window.

Growing up, kids from my town would take dates to the castle's grand front lawn - then return at night looking for a ghost haunting the halls.

In reality, the Squires simply found a different pursuit. The estate was sold in 1922 and acquired by the Metroparks three years later. The family didn't travel the netherworld - just Europe, then the Cleveland suburb of Wickliffe.

Today all that's left of River Farm Estate is the stone shell of a dream and northeast Ohio's most peculiar picnic spot.