History

The Castle located at 4717 N. Grand View Drive is one of the most iconic landmarks located in Peoria Heights.

*We have compiled this history timeline from the internet, documentaries, articles, books, etc. If you have additional stories and pictures, or discover any discrepancies, we would love to hear from you. Please click here or the "Contact Us" link at the top of the page.

1892

Its rich history began with Helen Chubbock’s birth and her childhood dreams of imagining herself as a princess, traveling the world and living in a castle with her prince.

Did You Know? Helen's mother Georgia was one of Peoria's great socialites. Her daughters were trained from birth to possess all the social graces and proper manners that were expected of the very wealthy. The girls were true Peoria royalty. Georgia was also very prominent in the state of Illinois with the Daughters of the American Revolution.

1918

When Helen married George Lusk, she began chasing her childhood vision by gathering ideas for their new home to be built on her beloved Grand View Drive, close to her parents.

Helen Lusk

Did You Know? George Lusk served in the Army Ordinance Corps during World War I, which eventually led him to be stationed at Caterpillar Tractor Company in East Peoria and, what must have been a whirlwind romance, married her on Aug. 3, 1918.

1927

The Lusks traveled throughout Europe, compiling their favorite features of the most prominent castles. European craftsmen began the design of their new home, now known as “The Castle.” The Lusks hired L. Eugene Robinson located here in Peoria Illinois at 1201 Jefferson Building, a prominent architect to draw up the blueprints which were finalized in 1929.

Architect and Blueprint Sample

Did You Know? Eugene Chubbock gave his daughter a gift of $25,000 for the new home, but that only got the first two stories erected. It would take thousands more to complete the mansion.

1930

“As the castle was being finished in 1930, it was clear from the public’s interest that it would be an instant landmark. The eclectic scramble of medieval turrets, gothic arches, leaded windows and massive stone fireplaces has a fascinating whimsy. Among the grand oaks and evergreens, your imagination sails you away from Peoria into a feeling of majesty and graceful beauty. Guests enjoyed the quaint stone bridge in the yard that once spanned a watery moat that circled the house and was teeming with golden carp.” – Credit: Dr. Peter J. Couri, May 2012, “Dreams of a Princess”

Did You Know? Melinda’s Doll House was written by Bess Edmundson and is the story of the Castle, how it came to be, and of the little girls who lived there. It is out of print.

Melinda's Doll House Book
by Bess Edmunson

Did You Know? This is the actual doll house that the was made back when the Lusks designed and built the Castle in the 1930's. There have been many fond childhood memories regarding this doll house!

1954

George Lusk was laid to rest in Springdale Cemetery. Helen passed six years later, she was buried near George and her parents. Because of Helen and her dream, many generations of Peoria residents have had the opportunity to enjoy this famous landmark .

Did You Know? October 12, 1910: During Theodore Roosevelt’s tour of Grand View Drive to the Peoria Country Club, his driver apologized for the bumpy ride when Roosevelt replied that it didn’t matter because this was "The World's Most Beautiful Drive." He happened to have been riding in a Glide Special 45 Roadster automobile which was manufactured in Peoria Heights at that time. WMBD (a local radio and tv station) still operates today, using the abbreviations from this famous quote.

Glide Special 45 Roadster

1962

Walter F. Dexter family purchased the home, investing a large sum of money for repairs since the house was in serious need of renovation.

Did You Know? WTVP Channel 47 had a documentary called “Grand View Drive” which is about the journey down Grand View Drive and includes the tour of some of Peoria’s most magnificent homes.

WTVP Presents, Grand View Drive

1972

1972 Architectural designer David Haase and his wife purchased the Castle. They hosted many events, and were well remembered for handing out Halloween pencils. It was owned and maintained for 43 years until his passing in 2014.

Did You Know? In the large circular staircase in the home resides the crystal chandelier from the Atlanta House in Gone with the Wind. Back in the mid 70's MGM picture studio had an auction of props and the Haase’s were the winning bidder over actress Debbie Reynolds.

Crystal Chandelier from the Movie Gone with the Wind

2013 to Present

The home’s current owner is Dr. Carl W. Soderstrom of Soderstrom Skin Institute. His emphasis is to preserve the historical integrity during renovations while respecting the aesthetics of previous owners. Particularly interested in philanthropy, he has hosted numerous events, which include parties and fundraisers, both charitable and educational. Since the Castle is a beloved landmark in the Peoria area, he knew it would be a perfect location to host events. Halloween has always been a tradition of spooky fun for trick-or-treaters at the Castle. Dr. Soderstrom has brought Halloween to new heights with live music, dancers and an entertainment venue every year.

Soderstrom Castle 2020

“When you own a home like this you are a caretaker of history and the beauty of the community,” said Soderstrom. “It’s another opportunity to be philanthropic, to share my good fortune with the community.”

 Dr. Carl W. Soderstrom

Did You Know? “It’s modeled after a French chateau in the Loire Valley,” said Soderstrom. “It originally had a moat. The water went under the bridge, and there was a lake out front. There’s a room downstairs where the pumps are. Sometime in the 1970’s someone shut down the water.”

Links of Interest:
https://www.peoriamagazines.com/as/2017/sep-oct/behind-castle-walls

https://www.courierpapers.com/morton_courier/article_64b437b6-bf4b-11e7-9564-97a39b36289a.html

http://www.peorian.com/history/1246-dreams-of-a-princess