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Illinois castles: 14 wonderful castles in Illinois that are worth a visit

Are you looking for the best Illinois castles? You came to the right place. 

When you conjure up images of gothic castles with pointed arches and stained-glass windows, you probably aren’t thinking about castles in Illinois.

However, there are amazing castles scattered throughout the state that you must visit.

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Overview of the best castles in Illinois

Here’s a comparison table of all castes that we cover in this post.

Read on for a short description of all the Il castles.

Illinois castles you need to see

Location Highlights
A detail of RavenStone Castle Ravenstone Castle

Harvard

16th century style Bed & Breakfast featuring stunning historical décor from around the world

Havencrest castle Havencrest Castle

Savanna

This beautiful Victorian castle has 63 rooms which host elaborate parties and even magic shows

Bettendorf Castle at night Bettendorf Castle

Fox River Grove

It is modeled after the original Vianden Castle in Luxembourg

The Altgeld Hall of the Northern Illinoios University Altgeld Hall Castles

On the campus of the Northern Illinois University

Named after the Governor, John Peter Altgeld, who signed legislation that created the castle and the university.

Old Main Castle of the Eastern Illinois University Old Main Castle

Eastern Illinois University

The beautiful building was built with Indiana limestone, Gothic style turrets, towers, and battlements.

Warner Castle

Orion

The castle is locally believed to be haunted and a popular spot each year on Halloween.

Givins Castle Givins Castle

Located in the historic Beverly neighborhood at 10255 S. Seely Ave

Each of the 5 castle keepers have fascinating stories which have been turned into a book and a documentary.

Busboom Castle

Dewey

The drawbridge that plays fanfare as it’s lowered is just the beginning to this spectacular, fantasy-like property.

Cook Hall Cook Hall Castle

Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois

Built in 1898, Cook Hall now serves as the School of Music at the University.

Dunham Castle during the renovations in 2016 Dunham Castle

Wayne, Illinois

A vast courtyard, winding drive, and dense forest are the perfect backdrop to this French-style castle.

Soderstrom castle Soderstrom Castle

Peoria Heights

The latest owner has added two stone dragons at the front of the property to add to the whimsy without taking away from the elegance of the surrounding greenery and stone castle façade

Stronghold Castle

Oregon

The castle sits atop limestone bluffs overlooking the beautiful Rock River.

The Chicago Water Tower Chicago Water Tower Castle

Chicago

This castle is a city landmark and official visitor center in the heart of downtown Chicago.

The Interior of Villa Kathrine Villa Kathrine

Quincy

Located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, many believe the villa to be haunted.

Illinois castles you need to see

Read on to discover more about these amazing Il castles.

A detail of Ravenstone Castle
Ravenstone Castle is one of the few fascinating castles in Illinois you can stay at (photo credits: Contemplative imaging)

Ravenstone Castle

  • Where it is located: You can find the castle in Harvard, Illinois off Route 23
  • Highlights: 16th century style Bed & Breakfast featuring stunning historical décor from around the world

Short Description of the Castle

Ravenstone Castle is a family-owned and built hotel in the charming town of Harvard, Illinois.

Perched on a hilltop overlooking rolling fields, this medieval structure was only just built-in 2001.

However, the size and attention to detail could fool you otherwise.

From the protruding stone towers of the exterior to the antique décor, it is evident that every aspect of the vast property was designed with care.

Guests can discover the beauty of the estate themselves by booking a tour, private event, or spending the night in one of the themed rooms!

Havencrest castle
Havencrest castle (photo credits: Havencrest Castle)

Havencrest Castle

  • Where it is located: Savanna, Illinois
  • Highlights: This beautiful Victorian castle has 63 rooms which host elaborate parties and even magic shows

Short Description of the Castle

Havencrest is an extravagant and ornate castle, themed around fantasy and decorated in the manner of ‘American Aristocracy.’

While the original owners built a much more modest home on the property, the latest owners, Alan and Adrianne St. George, began transforming and expanding the castle in the 1970s.

They designed every detail including all the original art and sculptures.

The ballroom has 24 life-sized figures and the Memorial Hall is the only place in the world where you can see full-sized, historically accurate replicas of the Titanic’s Grand Staircase, Dining Saloon, and the famous clock!

You won’t find the same intricacies and extravagance in a single other castle in Illinois.

Bettendorf Castle at night
Bettendorf Castle, beautifully lit at night (photo credits: CheepShot)

Bettendorf Castle

  • Where it is located: Fox River Grove, Illinois
  • Highlights: It is modeled after the original Vianden Castle in Luxembourg

Short Description of the Castle

Also known as Vianden Castle or Fox River Grove Castle, Bettendorf Castle is a masterpiece.

The builder and owner, Theodore Bettendorf grew up in Luxembourg and watched the construction of the original Vianden castle.

He began building his own replica, Bettendorf Castle, in Illinois in 1931.

Over thirty years later, the towers, turrets, moat, drawbridge, and dungeon were finally complete.

While the doors have not always been open to the public, today it is the site of tours, kid-friendly events, and wedding ceremonies.

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The Altgeld Hall of the Northern Illinois University
The Altgeld Hall of the Northern Illinois University (photo credits: artistmac)

Altgeld Hall Castles

  • Where it is located: Dekalb, Illinois on the campus of Northern Illinois University

There are 2 other Altgeld Halls at 2 other Illinois Universities

  • Highlights: Named after the Governor, John Peter Altgeld, who signed legislation that created the castle and the university.

Short Description of the Castle

Built between 1895-1899, Altgeld Hall was originally called the “Castle on the Hill.”

At the time, governor Altgeld believed that buildings needed to be more attractive while remaining affordable.

He suggested the ‘Tudor-Gothic style’ as the most inexpensive means of doing so.

When Altgeld Hall was completed, it served as the entire university. It had classrooms, a boardroom, a library, a gymnasium, a lecture hall, laboratories, and even all the administrative rooms.

It has since undergone significant construction but not at the cost of the building’s character.

For example, a time capsule that was buried in 1974 remains undisturbed and will be opened in 2049 on the 150th anniversary.

If you are looking for a list of othe great things to do in Northern llinois, click here.

Old Main Castle of the Eastern Illinois University
Beautiful Old Main Castle in Illinois is completely constructed in the preferred style of Governor Altgeld but not named after him.

Old Main Castle at Eastern Illinois University

  • Where it is located: Eastern Illinois University
  • Highlights: The beautiful building was built with Indiana limestone, Gothic style turrets, towers, and battlements.

Short Description of the Castle

Another castle built by the enthusiastic Governor Altgeld was completed in the year 1899.

It is one of 2 university castles that aren’t named after Altgeld, even though this one is completely constructed in his preferred style.

At the time, many people enjoyed the Gothic Revival because the style was associated with higher education.

When it was built, it was also the only building on campus, similar to Altgeld Hall.

By 1909 more buildings were erected. Today it serves as the School of Music at the University.

Warner Castle

  • Where it is located: Orion, Illinois
  • Highlights: The castle is locally believed to be haunted and a popular spot each year on Halloween.

Short Description of the Castle

After touring Europe in the late 1800s, Wilder W. Warner, a wealthy farmer, politician, and business owner, began building his own personal residence.

Drawing inspiration from his travels, he constructed an $80,000 estate. This may seem like a bargain price today but it was a fortune at the time.

It features 17 rooms, seven bedrooms, two living rooms, a library, a dining room, and a kitchen.

He built his castle with considerable detail and the highest quality, including Italian Marble fireplaces and hand-carved busts.

Warner died just four years after the house was built and left it to his son who lived there until he died in 1947. It has changed hands many times since then and is now no longer in the family.

Givins Castle
Givins Castle is another magnificent castle in Illinois (photo credits: Eric Allix Rogers)

The Givins Castle

  • Where it is located: Another Chicago, Illinois castle! Located in the historic Beverly neighborhood at 10255 S. Seely Ave.
  • Highlights: Each of the 5 castle keepers have fascinating stories which have been turned into a book and a documentary.

Short Description of the Castle

Often regarded as the “Irish Castle,” the rich history of the building is widely celebrated.

Built in 1887, real estate developer Robert C. Givins built the extravagant home as a gift to his wife and a way to spark growth in the neighborhood.

He built the three-story manor with Joliet limestone in the Richardsonian Romanesque style.

Each of the rooms showcased ornate décors such as tiled fireplaces, chandeliers, and stained-glass windows.

Today, the owners are the Beverly Unitarian Church.

Guests can take a look at Sunday services or during the city’s annual architectural festival.

Busboom Castle

  • Where it is located: 2521 County Road 600E in Dewey, Illinois
  • Highlights: The drawbridge that plays fanfare as it’s lowered is just the beginning to this spectacular, fantasy-like property.

Short Description of the Castle

Builder Bruce Busboom decided to create his dream home, or dream castle, in the late 1980s.

He chose secluded woods to create a lavish castle boasting a total of 5,000 square feet.

As you approach the main entrance, carriage lights illuminate a 600-pound drawbridge.

Gargoyles spit water 30 feet down into the moat below.

The interior boasts 22-foot-high ceilings, armored knights guarding doors, and a 50-foot-long great hall.

Not only that but there is a full pirate ship in the backyard!

Today, the property is available for overnight stays for families looking to enjoy a royal getaway.

Cook Hall
Cook Hall is part of the Illinois State University (photo by William Wesen)

Cook Hall Castle

  • Where it is located: Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois
  • Highlights: Built in 1898, Cook Hall now serves as the School of Music at the University.

Short Description of the Castle

This college town landmark is yet another castle built by the order of Governor John Peter Altgeld.

The governor found the original plans for the building to be too unattractive and therefore rejected them.

He proposed the architect’s design a building more closely resembling German castles with towers and turrets and thus was born Cook Hall.

While originally the library, and then the gymnasium, Cook Hall is now home to the School of Music housing practice rooms, rehearsal halls, and classrooms.

It was named after the University’s fourth president, John Williston Cook.

Dunham Castle during the renovations in 2016
Dunham Castle during the renovations in 2016 (photo credits: B3thedw)

Dunham Castle

  • Where it is located: Wayne, Illinois at the intersection of Dunham Road and Army Trail Road.
  • Highlights: A vast courtyard, winding drive, and dense forest are the perfect backdrop to this French-style castle.

Short Description of the Castle

Dunham Castle was built by Mark Dunham, a horse breeder, in 1882.

He had acquired the land for the castle, which was a farm with a log cabin when his father died.

Dunham went on to build a great wealth breeding horses and decided to build a home unlike any other.

The inspiration was that of a French chateau.

It was built with brick, stone, different colored slate roofing, and was decorated with copies of French artwork, statues, and tapestries.

Over the years, the castle had many owners, but the original structure never changed. In fact, a lot of the original furniture was maintained and is now in its own history museum.

The house has undergone an extremely successful restoration and is open to the public for tours.

Soderstrom castle
Soderstrom castle (photo credits: Soderstrom castle)

Soderstrom Castle

  • Where it is located: Grandview Drive in Peoria Heights, Illinois
  • Highlights: The latest owner has added two stone dragons at the front of the property to add to the whimsy without taking away from the elegance of the surrounding greenery and stone castle façade

Short Description of the Castle

In 1927, the Lusk family traveled across Europe and consulted European architects as they began to build “the castle.”

In 1930, the home became an instant landmark.

Grand oak trees and evergreens line the stone bridge that spans the moat below. The towering stone fireplace, medieval turrets, and gothic arches are a captivating sight to behold.

The home has largely retained its original character while adding to the fantasy.

The latest owner has added two stone fire-breathing dragons at the front of the property to add to the whimsy without taking away from the elegance of the surrounding greenery and stone castle façade.

Today, the castle is a symbol of the community and home to numerous charity events, parties, and fundraisers.

Additionally, the castle is popular every Halloween as live music, dancers, and entertainment liven the castle. 

An event taking place at the Stronghold Castle
There are regular events at the Stronghold Castle (photo credits: Ben Jacobsen)

Stronghold Castle

  • Where it is located: 1922 Route 2 North, Oregon, Illinois
  • Highlights: The castle sits atop limestone bluffs overlooking the beautiful Rock River

Short Description of the Castle

Stronghold Castle was built in 1929 by Walter Strong after he visited Hearst Castle in California.

Strong was a successful writer who worked to expose corruption during the Prohibition Era and he decided to turn the home into a castle.

He constructed a 16 bedroom, 9 bath, 8 fireplace castle complete with secret passageways and leering gargoyles.

The Tudor style home features a medieval-style Great Hall with ceilings reaching 34 feet high at its peak.

The highlight of the property is the five-story circular tower whose staircase appears to be floating due to unseen steel rods. At the top is an observation deck with stunning views of the countryside.

Unfortunately, Strong died suddenly just two years after the castle was built.

The children sold the property to the Presbyterian Church who created the Stronghold Retreat and Conference Center in 1963.

The church remains the owner of the castle and hosts camps, retreats for spiritual enrichment, family camping, and much more.

The Chicago Water Tower
The Chicago Water Tower

Chicago Water Tower Castle

  • Where it is located: 806 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago
  • Highlights: This castle is a city landmark and official visitor center in the heart of downtown Chicago.

Short Description of the Castle

Not only is Water Tower Castle one of the only castles in Chicago, but it is also one of the only buildings to survive the great Chicago fire of 1871.

The castle was built around a 138-foot water standpipe that was used to fight fires in 1869.

Today, the castle stands as a cherished relic amongst the modern skyscrapers and venues of downtown Chicago.

The Interior of Villa Kathrine
The Interior of Villa Kathrine (photo by: Ethan Prater)

Villa Kathrine

  • Where it is located: Gardner Expressway in Quincy, Illinois.
  • Highlights: Located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, many believe the villa to be haunted

Short Description of the Castle

The wealthy and eccentric George Metz built Villa Kathrine in 1900.

The structure strays from the European medieval style of previously mentioned castles with a Moroccan aesthetic.

Inside the castle is a harem, a courtyard, and a reflecting pool. Beautiful Mediterranean archways, carved lattice woodwork, and domes topped with a Muslim crescent make this property unlike any other castle in all of Illinois.

Conclusion

As you can see, Illinois castles are riddled with history of early Americans and today remain important symbols of the communities.

Make sure to stop and marvel at the architecture, imagination, and historical culture of these beautiful castles!

See our web stories that accompany this post.

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