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Castles of McHenry County

In 2001, the Michel family of Harvard broke ground on their dream home: A castle in the 16th-century style.

McHenry County tops Illinois’ “hidden castle” list.

When it comes to castles, you have your English hilltop towers, majestic French châteaux, Gothic German palaces and so forth. The United States probably doesn’t immediately come to mind, let alone Illinois. This list of seven spectacular castles in our state might surprise you, though. Better yet, two listed are right here in McHenry County: Bettendorf of Fox River Grove and RavenStone in Harvard.

In 1931, Teddy Bettendorf began hand-building a home in Fox River Grove reminiscent of an 11th-century castle.

Bettendorf Castle – located on a bluff overlooking Metra’s Union Pacific/Northwest Line in Fox River Grove – is a hand-built replica of the 11th-century Vianden Castle in Luxembourg. Learn more about the history of this unique residence, which was constructed in the 1930s-1950s with on-site materials. Private tour information is available here.

If staying at a 16th century-inspired castle/bed-and-breakfast is on your bucket list, look no further than RavenStone Castle in Harvard. You can stay in one of its themed rooms and enjoy a European-style breakfast, book a tea party for a special occasion or take a tour during an event day.

Although these two made the top-seven list, there are actually several castles in McHenry County, including the following:

  • Harvard – Somerset Manor, the 18,407-square-foot castle of Cosmetique founder June Giugni and husband Henri ca. 1995.
  • Marengo – An 8,500-square-foot castle on 39 acres ca. 1990.
  • Fox River Grove – A child-size stone replica of a 14th-century castle ca. 1920s and one of the few remnants of the storied Legat Gardens (Grove and Lincoln avenues).
  • Wonder Lake – Castle established by renowned papier-mâché artist Emil von Knauf ca. 1930s. “Elmer the Elephant” was one of his creations.

Are you aware of any other McHenry County castles? Let us know:


Bettendorf Castle
Fox River Grove, IL, United States
RavenStone Castle
RavenStone Castle, Illinois 23, Harvard, IL, United States
Children's Castle at Legat Gardens
715 Lincoln Ave, Fox River Grove, IL, United States

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