It's creepy and it's, bizarre
Cue Addams Family music:
Their house is a museum Where people come to see 'em They really are a scream The Addams Family.
While Havencrest Castle is not spooky or haunted, and it’s the St. George family not the Addams, it is most definitely a scream. The word I’ve most often used in referring to it is bizarre.
Look bizarre up in your Roget’s Thesaurus (do they still print those?) and every synonym you find fits this place. Then look up all those synonyms you found and the synonyms for those will also fit. There just aren’t enough bizarre words to describe it.
I’ve wanted to see this place for years, literally. I first heard about it and the unusual couple who own it, Adrianne and Alan St. George, probably 30 years ago. It was open for a period of time 20 or more years ago, but then it was closed to the public for several years. Alan has more recently begun opening and publicizing it once again. (Adrianne died in 2006.)
Before I go further I want to precede my descriptions of the home by saying I absolutely recommend putting this on your list of places to visit. Located in Savanna, Illinois, it’s all you can possibly imagine and more. The cost is $25 and it’s only open in May and October.
The castle continues to be Alan’s personal residence and he is often there to meet visitors. For that reason you should probably plan to visit sooner than later. The day will inevitably come when he is no longer able to, or simply tires of, opening it for tours.
I was genuinely surprised at how well planned the tour is. I expected it to be a somewhat random walk through the home. Instead, you are greeted by a large gift shop near the entrance where you pick up your tickets. Once inside the home’s front door, a host greets you and explains the tour.
A red carpet marks the way and informational signs provide some great background about what is in each room. There is also an audio tour, narrated by Alan, you can listen to on your phone, free of charge, as you walk through.
The home was built between 1899 and 1901, and purchased by the St. George’s in 1976. Since then they quadrupled the size to what it is today.
Each and every room in the home is packed from ceiling to floor with furniture, paintings, wood details, sculptures, unique and unusual collectables, you name it. It’s like your eccentric aunt’s attic exploded in there.
Much of the artwork are of Alan’s own creation. That includes statues, paintings hung on the walls, painted ceilings and more.
The home is built in a Queen Anne style of architecture that harkens back to the early 1700s and the majority of rooms, though by no means all of them, reflect that era. More than once I caught myself saying a “Wow, didn’t expect that,” as I walked through a doorway.
I mean, geesh, you go from rooms furnished in a manner fitting to the style of the house to one filled with Adrianne’s doll collection, a Chinese Tea Room filled with pieces from China, the Treasure Room of Ali Baba, a Peacock Throne Room in which everything has a peacock motif, and an 80-foot long Medieval Hall with nearly life-size sculptures devoted to the knightly virtues of love, courtesy, temperance, courage and loyalty.
There’s also The Sculpture Salon featuring Alan’s contemporary sculptures including ones he has created for Ellen Degeneres and Neil Patrick Harris, as well his AAROHN collection, “An Alien Revealing Our Higher Nature”, that yes, are statues of aliens.
A listing in the room indicates a 2012 World Premiere of some of the pieces in Miami with prices ranging from $7,000 to $18,000.
The one thing that is absolutely impossible to notice is almost every, single, room includes paintings and/or sculptures of both the St. Georges. I mean every room. It’s unavoidable and, depending on your personal perspective, either a testament to Alan’s devotion to Adrianne, or just plain disturbing.
One example is a small garden room in which Alan has created a larger than life size bust of himself, mounted high on a wall to the right, intentionally designed so that he is gazing across the room at a statue of Adrianne on the opposite side. In and of itself, that’s not too eccentric, but in total with all of the other pieces throughout the house, it’s a bit overwhelming.
I will give him credit though, his work is pretty amazing and the sheer amount of it is incredible. Many of us have lived through a kitchen remodel or some other home project and know how challenging that can be. This is an entire mansion! And he created many of the literally hundreds of pieces that fill the rooms himself.
I can’t possibly describe everything you’ll see in Havencrest Castle. I suspect I could pack a small paperback book with the details. It’s something you definitely have to see for yourself.
Final Note: I do have a slight, very slight, connection to the castle. Alan’s business, aside from his art, is Facemakers, a mascot costume shop also located in Savanna. In fact, he says it’s the money he made from Facemakers that he used to make Havencrest what it is today.
Facemakers has created mascot costumes for some pretty big companies including Tony the Tiger, Smokey the Bear, Best Buy, Buffalo Wild Wings and others.
Many years ago I was race director for the B-rrry Scurry, a winter race held the first Saturday in February every year. Our race mascot is a polar bear named B-rrry Bear and one year we decided it would be a great idea to have a polar bear costume we could use in promoting the race.
Knowing a custom-designed one would be out of our price range I was hoping to find a stock costume that might work. Searching around to see where we might get a costume I stumbled upon Facemakers, that just happened to have a Cartoon Polar Bear that looked EXACTLY like the B-rrry Bear caricature on our t-shirts. We couldn’t have done better if it had been designed specifically for us.
They don’t have a storefront and do all of their sales via shipping (at least they did back then, I can’t say for sure if that’s still true.) I called them up and they were nice enough to arrange an appointment for me to pick B-rrry Bear up at their production facility, an old school building in Savanna, so that we could save on the shipping costs and get him more quickly.
That’s also how I became the first B-rrry Bear. I wore that costume many different times the first couple of years we had it. I was in parades, visited a grade school classroom and even wore it in the Bix 7 a very hilly seven-mile run through the streets of Davenport, in July.
After that experience I swore I would never let anyone else wear that costume in a race. It was close to 70 degrees, and humid, at the 7 a.m. race start. I "ran" all seven miles and was fortunate I had two helpers along the way. It’s not unusual for the Bix to have 15,000 – 20,000 participants, and with limited visibility in that costume I wanted help in keeping me from accidentally running into others.
I started the race having a great time, waving at people and giving high fives along the way, and genuinely running a pretty good amount of the first half of the race. That changed with roughly two miles remaining to the finish line. It was everything I could do to just put one foot in front of the other.
There weren’t any high fives left in me, I was simply trying to walk a straight line to the finish. I was glad to have those helpers there. One walked in front of me those last two miles and I did nothing but focus on her back and keep moving forward. But I finished and promptly found a place to sit down, take off the costume head and drink a LOT of water.
Another great story to tell but, never again.
**I allow use of my photos through Creative Commons License. I'm not looking to make money off this thing. I only ask that you provide me with credit for the photo by noting my blog address, alansheaven.com, or a link back to this page.