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Dreams of a Princess

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Her Castle on Grand View Drive

Helen Chubbock was born into great wealth and privilege in 1892. Her father, H. Eugene, was the general manager of Peoria's public utilities, the Illinois Traction System, and the Western Railway & Light Company.

The family mansion was located at 4755 Grand View Drive. Relatives and friends have told stories of young Helen as the dreamer of the Chubbock daughters, imagining herself as a princess, traveling the world and living in a great castle with her prince.

When her horse died, her father let Helen bury it in their back yard near the adjoining Country Club of Peoria. Years later, golf course workers would unearth the horse's bones, making headlines with rumors they had found a monumental archeological find. The Chubbock family would later set the record straight.

Helen's mother Georgia was one of Peoria's great socialites. Her daughters were trained from birth to possess all the social graces and proper manners that were expected of the very wealthy. The girls were true Peoria royalty. Georgia was also very prominent in the state of Illinois with the Daughters of the American Revolution.

George Lusk was born in Worchester, Mass., in 1889. He served in the Army Ordinance Corps during World War I, which eventually led him to be stationed at Caterpillar Tractor Company in East Peoria. He soon met Helen Chubbock and, what must have been a whirlwind romance, married her on Aug. 3, 1918.

The couple and their two daughters would live for a time in Ottawa and Quincy. But when George founded the National Aluminum Manufacturing Company in Peoria, Helen Lusk began plans for their new home to be located on her beloved Grand View Drive, down the street from her parents, to be designed from her childhood dreams — a castle fit for a princess.

In 1927, the Lusks traveled extensively around Europe, copying the features of the grandest castles and employing European artisans to come to Peoria to build their new home. Eugene Chubbock gave his daughter a gift of $25,000 for the new home, but that only got the first two stories erected. It would take thousands more to complete the mansion.

As the castle was being finished in 1930, it was clear from the public's interest that it would be an instant landmark. The eclectic scramble of medieval turrets, gothic arches, leaded windows and massive stone fireplaces has a fascinating whimsy. Among the grand oaks and evergreens, your imagination sails you away from Peoria into a feeling of majesty and graceful beauty.

The castle became the center of Peoria's social scene of parties and fundraisers for many years. Guests enjoyed the quaint stone bridge in the yard that once spanned a watery moat that circled the house and was teeming with golden carp.

George Lusk died in 1954. Helen ruled over her beloved castle for six years after his passing, dying in the home in 1960. She rests with her parents and George in Springdale Cemetery.

The Lusk Castle has inspired the awe and imagination of thousands of people through the years, a testament to Helen and her dreams fulfilled.

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