Gothic Places: Voorhies Castle

Okay, so “castle” is a bit of an overstatement if you’re going solely by size, but this looming, once-stately manor does have an eerie, someone’s-watching-you atmosphere, much like its ancient European architectural cousins.

Voorhies Castle was built at the end of the 19th century near Bement, Illinois, in the small, now defunct village of Voorhies. Nels Larson, the successful businessman who built the mansion and in fact owned the entire village of Voorhies, lived in the castle until 1914 when his wife was found dead at the foot of the staircase. The cause of her death was never determined; Larson himself moved out of the house immediately, never to return.

In addition to the mysterious death of Johanna Larson, Voorhies Castle is also reputed to be haunted by the spirit of the Larsons’ alleged secret child, a disabled son or daughter of whom, it is said, the family was so ashamed they kept him (or her) chained up in a hidden room. Supposedly night visitors to the castle can hear the phantom chains rattling; one may also be able to see eerie lights on the stairs as Johanna continues to move about her once-glorious home.

Voorhies Castle was abandoned for many years, but is currently under restoration–the first floor is available for tours (during the day only, sadly), and the current owner lives on the second floor as he’s working on renovations to the house and property. We toured it on a bright summer day, not very conducive to ghostly activity, but even so, the air was tinged with the mysteries of the past.

(Learn more about Voorhies Castle here and here)

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