Add These 5 Illinois Castles To Your Summer Vacation Plans
As a fan of the castle concept since early childhood, it's pretty cool knowing that Illinois has at least that many. It's even cooler to know that several of those castles are within easy driving distance. When you're trying to save gas here in the summer of 2023, closeness counts.
So forget about going to Europe to indulge your castle-visiting fantasies (it's expensive, and they talk funny over there. It's like they have their own languages or something), and let's check out what you can see here in Illinois in far less time and for a lot less expense.
The Closest Castle To Rockford Is About 30 Miles Away, Just North Of Oregon
That would be Stronghold Castle, or as it's now called, Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center. Built in 1928 by the owner/publisher of the Chicago Daily News, Walter Strong, Stronghold Castle boasts, according to the City of Oregon website, "sixteen bedrooms, nine baths, eight fireplaces, four secret passages, and a 55 by 34 foot “Great Hall” with a 34 foot ceiling. In addition, the grounds include a swimming pool and tennis court."
Growing up about 2 miles away from Stronghold Castle & Retreat Center, I can vouch for how absolutely cool the place is.
There's A Castle In Chicago, And It's Not The Water Tower (which I thought was a castle when I was a kid)
That castle would be Givins Castle, also known as Givins Beverly Castle, or the "Irish Castle" by some locals.
At three stories high, with round crenelated lookout towers, and perched on a hill in the Longwood Drive Historic District in Chicago is the Givins’ Irish Castle. Built between 1886 and 1887 in what is now the Beverly Hills & Morgan Park community, the Castle has had only five castle keepers, each with fascinating stories.
When Givins Beverly Castle was first built in 1887, it cost a whopping $80,000.
The Next Stop On Our Tour Of Illinois Castles Takes Us To Fox River Grove
That's where we'll find Bettendorf Castle in all of its splendor and unique history. Doing a bit of research for this, I learned (from BettendorfCastle.com) that in 1931, Theodore “Teddy” Bettendorf, an immigrant from Luxembourg, began work on his dream home...and finished up (more or less) in 36 years!
It looks like 36 years of work really came together.
Since We're Getting Tight On Space For This Piece, Here's A Quick Look At Two More Illinois Castles On Our List
For the first one, you'll need to take a quick 230 mile road-trip to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. That's where you'll find Old Main Castle, the oldest building on EIU's campus, built over a 3-year period at the end of the 19th Century. Its design is meant to resemble that of a medieval castle.
Finally, Hop In The Car And Head To Wayne, Illinois To Take A Good Look At Dunham Castle
Described as looking like it could be on the cover of a children's storybook, Dunham Castle features a European chateaux look, elegantly built of limestone: