Soderstrom Castle Home History

The Castle’s story began in 1892 with a woman named Helen Chubbock Lusk.

Born in Peoria in 1892, Helen Chubbock Lusk was the original owner of the Castle, along with her husband George Lusk. In 1927, they traveled throughout Europe, compiling their favorite features of the most prominent castles, so that one day they could build their own.

Helen Lusk
For a more detailed story on Helen’s early life, take a look at Dreams of a Princess by Dr. Peter J. Couri.

A woman of determination–she achieved her goal.

Original architectural schematics for the Soderstrom Castle

The Lusks hired L. Eugene Robinson, a prominent architect in Peoria, Illinois, to draw up the blueprints for the Castle. These blueprints were finalized in 1929.

Illustrative line drawing of the Soderstrom Castle turret

Drawing inspiration from Romanesque, French and Italian Renaissance and Gothic styles, the Castle was completed in 1930.

Helen imported European architects, bricklayers, and stone masons to build this home to the highest degree of design.

When you look at the castle, you’ll notice the blending of the brick and stone into amazing interfaces and masonry artistry on the towers, upper level balconies, doorways, patios and porches.

Newspaper article of the Soderstrom Castle when it was first built by the Lusks
Illustrative line drawing of the front door of the Soderstrom Castle
Helen’s father, Eugene chubbock, gave her a gift of $25,000 for the home.

This only got the first 2 stories done. It would take thousands more to complete the Castle.

The book Melinda's Doll House
Melinda’s doll house, by bess edmundson in 1963, is inspired by the castle.

As personal secretary to the Lusks, Bess was inspired by the Castle to write a mystical story about how the castle came to be.


George Lusk was laid to rest in Springdale Cemetery. Helen passed six years later–she was buried near George and her parents. Because of Helen and her dream, many generations of Peoria residents have had the opportunity to enjoy this famous landmark.

In 1962, the Walter F. Dexter family purchased the Castle, investing a large sum of money for repairs since it was in serious need of renovation.


In 1972, architectural designer, David Haase, and his wife, Sally, purchased the Castle. They hosted many events throughout their time at the Castle, and were well remembered for handing out Halloween pencils.

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The crystal chandelier from the movie Gone with the Wind, which is now hanging in the Soderstrom Castle
the crystal chandelier from the Atlanta house in gone with the wind resides in the castle’s staircase.

Back in the mid 70s, MGM had an auction of props, and the Haase’s were the winning bidder over actress Debbie Reynolds.

From one loving owner to another

After 43 years of beloved ownership under architect David Haase, the Castle was purchased by Dr. Carl Soderstrom in 2013.

Although David wanted to sell, he couldn’t get over leaving the Castle. After the heartbreaking loss of his wife and his own failing health, he couldn’t bare to leave his beloved Castle as well.

From one man who appreciated this wonderful unique work to another who has lived in it 40 years, and as a physician who has dealt too many times with the agonies of fellow men and women who love this world and can’t come to peace with leaving it, Dr. Soderstrom offered to let David live in the Castle free for the rest of his life. A handshake cemented the purchase and the paperwork followed a few weeks later.

David lived there free for several months, eventually moving back to his childhood home, and sadly soon thereafter, passed away.

Exterior view of the Soderstrom Castle
David Hasse, previous owner of the Castle before Dr. Soderstrom
Castle Garden

Now, the challenge began. What needed fixing? Would there be maintenance or restoration?

The first, second and third years, the Castle and all of its services were stabilized. None of the door handles worked, and the home hadn’t been locked for many years.

Dr. Soderstrom saw to the internal and exterior restoration of the castle, including 25 electrical upgrades, an interior redesign with medieval and antique European furniture, a revamp of the driveway, a newly added sunken garden, and a collection of statuaries to protect and beautify the estate.

Castle entryway

The Entrance

The entryway was curved and European granite cobblestones were added to the whole driveway to establish a more permanent look.

Soderstrom Castle trees

The Trees

Large juniper plantings were brought in and carefully placed to compliment the ornate exterior of the Castle.

Garden from the Soderstrom Castle

The Garden

A circular sunken garden was added along with a variety of local and European flowers to bloom throughout the three seasons.

Front Lawn of the Castle

The Front Lawn

The front lawn was redesigned to accommodate all those in the community who wanted the perfect shot with the Castle as the backdrop.

Pageant queen riding in vintage car through the Soderstrom Castle entrance

From 2013 - Present

Now, the Soderstrom Family is proud to host all walks of life on the grounds, bringing the Castle's various personalities to life. From the perfect backdrop for prom photos to a 10 Years of Business celebration to art shows to St. Jude fundraisers, generations of Peorians have marked their happiest moments at the castle.

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Truly, the Castle is whatever the community needs it to be and can be whatever dream you dream.

Please Note: We have compiled this history timeline from documentaries, articles, books, and online sources. If you have additional stories or photos, or discover any discrepancies, we would love to hear from you!

Enjoy experiences you can't get anywhere else in Central Illinois.

Make the Castle and Cars yours, for whatever dream you dream.

Soderstrom Castle and Cars Crest