Havencrest Castle is a Victorian mansion situated in upstate Illinois on the banks of the Mississippi River, where the lines between fantasy, storytelling, imagination and real life grow blurry. Originally built in 1899, the mansion was turned into a castle by a couple whose motto is engraved over the door to their home: Reality is for those who lack imagination.
Begun in 1899 and finished in 1901, Havencrest Castle was originally named Hillcrest and was the result of a wager between four men to see who could design the most extravagant home. The 23-room Queen Anne mansion was designed by Lester Cowen for the Greenleaf family, and soon after completion it was the stage of a passionate and ill-fated romance between the Greenleaf's eldest son and the family's nanny. The turn of the century mansion embraced the decadence of the time and the popular baroque style, decorated with marble and stained glass, elaborate sculptures and massive chandeliers. The house remained in the family until 1976, when it was acquired by Alan and Adrianne St. George.
The St. Georges
The St. George's were a couple deeply in love with each other, and their devotion manifested itself in a lifestyle that bordered between fantasy and reality. Hillcrest became Havencrest Castle, and the couple began adding on to the structure. The original 23 rooms expanded to 64, and were used to hold extravagant galas, costume balls and charity events. Adrianne Blue Wakefield St. George was one of the founding members of the Caroll County Humane Society, and not only did many of the charity events benefit her organization but the castle was also home to six of the couple's own dogs. She passed away on June 1, 2006, and Havencrest Castle continued to be a home and studio for Alan St. George, who continued his career of baroque sculpture. Her dream of using Havencrest Castle to host some of the most fantastic dream weddings and parties imaginable continues as the castle is available to be used for weddings and other events.
Alan St. George also founded Facemakers, a company based in an old school not far from Havencrest Castle. The company designs and manufactures mascots, counting organizations such as Disney and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland among their clients, and have designed world famous mascots from the Keebler Elf to Tony the Tiger. While the design studios and construction areas have been in the school since the company's founding in the early 1970s, Havencrest Castle is considered the corporate and business heart of the company. As such, the business and the castle are undeniably linked by their simultaneous expansion and their embrace of the fantastic.
Havencrest Castle is rumored to be the site of considerable ghostly activity. One of the spirits thought to be haunting the castle is the ghost of its last mistress, Adrianne St. George. There are reports of a singing female voice being heard when there is no one else in the house, and all the television sets in the home being simultaneously turned on. Ghost hunters and paranormal researchers that have spent time in the castle investigating these phenomenon report capturing mysterious voices on digital recorders, still images on their cameras and the ghostly image of a Victorian lady on recordings.
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