Day Trip: A bronze bust of Commodore Burgoyne is in the park across from the Halifax Historical Museum, 252 S. Beach Street. Stop by and give him my regards.
Day trip: Pinewood Cemetery on Main Street in Daytona Beach. Vandals have done their best to deface this resting place, but it’s still worth a visit.
“There she is,” the crowd murmured. “She’s coming out!”
Onlookers young and old jostled each other for a glimpse of the woman draped in black. Flanked by two dark-suited men, the petite figure paused in the doorway of the great mansion. Finally, she took a deep breath and walked slowly down the brick steps to the awaiting car.
“I’ve always wondered what she looked like,” a lady in a red hat whispered.
“Mystery solved,” her companion said, turning away.
Not by a long shot.
Our story begins in 1882 when 19-year-old Mary MacCauley, a proofreader at a large New York printing firm, married the company’s owner, a millionaire 16 years her senior, becoming the third Mrs. Charles Burgoyne. In 1894, the couple relocated to Daytona Beach. Two years later, Mr. Burgoyne built his bride an enormous home, promptly dubbed “The Castle” by locals who had never seen anything like it. The property fronted 530 feet along Beach Street (between Bay and International Speedway Boulevard), and was completely surrounded by a low rock wall. The turreted, three-story building boasted a music room, its own water tower and a green house. Anchored across the street at the end of a long pier was a sleek, 65-foot yacht, the Sweetheart.
The Burgoynes were important members of society. Mr. Burgoyne was elected mayor of Daytona Beach in 1897 and commodore of the Halifax River Yacht Club in 1899 (from then on he was referred to as “Commodore.”) Mrs. Burgoyne lavishly entertained important out-of-town guests and bestowed strands of pearls to local girls on their birthdays.
In 1915, the Commodore built a civic center, “The Casino Burgoyne,” as a gift to his community. The sign over the door read: “Our latch string is always hanging out for friends, old and new. Come inside, our hearth is wide. We’ve saved a place for you!”
On March 31, 1916, the Commodore suffered a fatal heart attack. From that day forward, his widow never left their mansion.
In 1882, Mary MacCauley, 19, married a millionaire 16 years her senior, becoming the third Mrs. Charles Burgoyne. In 1894, the Burgoynes moved from New York to Daytona Beach and settled in their South Beach Street mansion, “The Castle.” The pair were very active in local society. Mr. Burgoyne was elected mayor in 1897 and commodore of the yacht club in 1899; Mrs. Burgoyne gave lavish parties and bestowed pearl necklaces upon young girls as birthday gifts. When Commodore Burgoyne died 22 years later, it all stopped. Mrs. Burgoyne sealed herself in their home. An entire generation of Daytonans grew up without ever seeing her face.
Socialites were soon whispering around their card tables, “She’s been maimed by a face-lift that went wrong!” Others blamed her self-imposed exile on a stroke. Local children thought she was a witch and did their best to catch a glimpse of her peering out from her windows. But the lace curtains remained tightly drawn.
With the Commodore gone, Mrs. Burgoyne’s income dried up. “The Castle” fell into disrepair. In 1939, the property was sold to Mr. W.R. Lovett, a businessman from Jacksonville. Mr. Lovett allowed Mrs. Burgoyne one year to organize her belongings and to move out. The year passed; Mrs. Burgoyne remained. Demolition began on the property. Mrs. Burgoyne persisted.
Finally, on the evening before her court-appointed eviction, Mrs. Burgoyne appeared on her doorstep flanked by her attorneys. She walked slowly past the gaggle of gawkers and climbed into the awaiting sedan.
But as Paul Harvey said, “Now for the rest of the story.” The woman seen leaving “The Castle” was not Mrs. Burgoyne. It was one of her maids, dressed in her mistress’ finery – a decoy!
Once the crowd dispersed, Mrs. Burgoyne’s attorney returned and secretly escorted the widow out the back door of the home she had occupied for 25 years. She was taken to the Touraine Apartments on South Grandview, where she died of pneumonia in 1944 at the age of 81. The Burgoynes are buried together at Pinewood Cemetery on Main Street.