31 July 2007
Day Twenty-eight at Bristol
For at least five years, we have talked with our fellow crafters Rose and Jose, about visiting their “castle” in Illinois. We’ve seen photos over the years, as the hole in the field grew walls, the walls gained roofs, and the roofs developed crenellations. We’ve followed this project as the interior was given structure, and eventually a kitchen and enough plumbing for them to actually move in. And in the last two years or so, we’ve been tantalized with beautiful photos of a couple of the completed guest rooms—The Egyptian, the King Arthur, and the Queen Elizabeth—each with decor befitting its title. So, this season, we decided we’d waited long enough to see this amazing undertaking. We planned an afternoon visit, and picked a date. Today was that date.
Although we wished for a couple of other girlfriends to join us, their lives intervened, and it was only Ginger and I that made the hour-long drive into the beautiful northern Illinois countryside to the little town of Harvard. We passed enough antique stores that we could have easily been teased off our path, but when we arrived at Rose’s we were instantly glad we’d stayed the course.
We were greeted warmly by Rose and her daughter-in-law, Terry. We were treated to the complete tour of this incredible place, and finally we were fed a delightful meal of Mexican enchiladas and a dessert of yummy carrot cake. Only after much enjoyable conversation and a special view of Rose’s workshop, did we finally make our gracious exit. I think if our work had not beckoned so loudly, we could have stayed for days!
Ravenstone Castle is already available for weddings, receptions and parties, and is the site of a number of annual events—craft shows, charity fund-raisers, etc. And for next spring, there are rumours of a possible mini “renfaire” event!
Rose and Jose have done the lion’s share of the work in building this place themselves. And all of the interior work has been done by them, and by their sons and families. Woodworking by one son, tile work by another . . . antiques and architectural elements have been purchased from all over the world . . . a circular staircase made by hand. Dreams are being made a reality. And what we saw today is phase one—almost complete, but not quite—of three phases. The second phase involves more guest rooms, a full ballroom, and a commercial grade kitchen. Phase three includes a chapel! Already, the impressive structure attracts curiosity seekers and photographers. Imagine when they’re done!
Addendum: Summer 2008—
Ravenstone Castle is more complete every day. Rose and Jose recently earned their accreditation as a bonafide Bed and Breakfast, and have events planned at least quarterly, such as Craft Faires, Teas, and other seasonal celebrations. The castle address is: 4504 Route 23, Harvard, IL 60033. Their phone numbers are 815.943.5764 or 262.736.9358. They hope to have a website sometime in the near future!