Deep in the heart of Savannah, Ill., sits a fairy tale castle of unparalleled proportions. I’ve toured historic homes, castles, mansions, and ruins all over the world, from The Alcazar, to the Winchester Mystery House, Monticello, The Hermitage, presidential homes, and our own local offerings. Magnificent though these structures are, they pale when compared to Havencrest Castle, the house that love built.
Havencrest got its modest beginnings during the 1870s when the Greenleaf family bought a homestead on a hill, aptly called Hillcrest, along with a large apron of land surrounding the original home, now the welcome center for Havencrest.
I was drawn to the site just because I and many of my friends and family have lived on streets or in neighborhoods called Hillcrest. It was a touch of serendipity.
I can best describe Havencrest, expanded from some 20 rooms to 63, as a doll house for adults. Each room not only has its theme, but the perspective in each chamber is exquisite. The late Adrianne St. George was greatly influenced by Colleen Moore’s Doll House, now housed at The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
Not a thing is out of place in any room at Havencrest, and it is very like a doll house blown up for adults. There are rooms featuring original art by Adrienne and Alan St. George in each room, and there are portraits of each as well. One area has a medieval theme, while an entire gallery features Mrs. St. George’s doll collection. Cherubs were favorite collectibles, and at least two rooms feature tasteful cherub collections paired with pale pink and pastel wallpapers and antique furniture.
A Near-Eastern room features Indian art and antiques, and gardens of tranquility showcase Buddha statues. Another area houses classical Greek statues, including one that appears to be a three-quarters life-size statue of Athena.
One gallery contains art still made by Mr. St. George. He was commissioned to reproduce art from the Titanic featured in the film, but creates his own original art and sculpture as well. He is the owner of Facemakers, Inc., which since 1972 has created magnificent mascot costumes for Disney, sports teams, the White House, and others.
Havencrest is the expression of an undying love that began when the St. Georges met as teens. There are elements of Romeo and Juliet and other great love stories in their true tale of devotion and romance.
Both St. Georges were artists and creative thinkers; they have been involved in the theater and charitable events for many years. Local humane societies were among their favorite charities.
Their personal motto Semper Nos -- always us-- is the theme of the magnificent work of art that is also their home. The other expression they lived by in creating the castle is “reality is for those who lack imagination.” I would add that the St. Georges' own good taste has gone into each room of the castle.
Lavish parties were part of Havencrest’s legacy, with every detail done to perfection. Custom-made china was often used. Mrs. St. George, an expert in etiquette, even authored a book called Millennial Manners.
Tours of the castle and its grounds begin again in October, and there is information at Havencrest.com. There are options for self-guided tours using a cell phone; the self-guided tour is well worth the time and includes an amazing amount of information delivered in a short span of time.
Children are welcome, and there are many opportunities for young princesses and princes to take part in activities and enjoy exhibits created with them in mind.
There are trams to take guests up the hill, the welcome center, a gift shop, restrooms, and places to stop along the way. The atmosphere of this beautiful place is calm, restful, and timeless.
For anyone who loves history, art, love stories, and romance, this beautiful place is indeed, a haven.