Hartford, Illinois - "The Hartford Castle"

original view of the castle All that remains of the Hartford Castle is the broken down foundation, a few statues, an old stone gazeebo, and a moat filled with muddy water. It is hidden in the woods along New Poag Road. Also remaining are the tales of death, bootleggers, and ghosts. stone bazeebopart of the foundation of the castle

It was originally called Lakeview. Benjamin Biszant had it built for his wife in 1897. It was very expensive and lavish.

Teams of workers were hired to hollow out a moat around the planned homesite; the dirt that was taken out was used to make a rise that the castle was to be built. It had fourteen rooms and red-capped turrets which rose well above the surrounding area. The floors were fashioned out of imported cypress wood, and the ceilings were held up with hand-carved columns. There were crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling in the main hall which was lined wth mirrors.

The landscape contained gazebos and statues, and Biszant had his own statues of animals and cannons throughout the gardens. There was stone bridge used to get to a small island in the middle of a small lake that was on his property.

Unfortunately his wife died in the early 1900s, her body was sent back to England. Shortly after he sold the castle and moved to California. It wasn't to long before the ghost of his wife started haunting the castle.

It was used as a military school, a school for unwed mothers, a resort, and might have been a speakeasy for awhile.

A couple from Wood River bought it, but they started having trouble with intruders and trespassers. People would often go through the grounds at all times of the day. Some even broke into the house and went through it like tourists.

The owner died in 1964 and his wife went back to Wood River. In 1972 it was gutted by trespassers, tore the mantels off the fireplaces, broke windows, and used a small telephone pole to put holes in the walls. It was eventually condemned by county inspectors.

In 1973 it burned to the ground. By the time firemen were able to get there all that was left was a chimney and burning embers.

People say that the ghost of Mrs. Biszant is still seen floating through what is left of the castle. Her voice is heard crying for the life and house that she lost. Others have reported hearing old music in and about the trees and crops during the summer.