Hartford Castle

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Hartford Castle was a speakeasy during the Prohibition, but was originally a home called Lakeview, built by French immigrant Benjamin Biszant in 1897. The castlelike home was the scene of a tragedy when Biszant’s English wife passed away in the early 1900s. It is her ghost that was suspected to haunted the place. After a spell as a private home, the castle burned down on March 21, 1973 and lies now in ruins. Some say the wife’s ghost can be seen wandering the grounds and weeping, and old-time music will play on summer nights.

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Geographic Information

Off New Poag Rd
Alton, IL
United States

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38.80055463071939, -90.08446222556813
Madison County, Illinois
Nearest Towns:
South Roxana, IL (2.3 mi.)
Hartford, IL (2.4 mi.)
Mitchell, IL (2.7 mi.)
Roxana, IL (3.3 mi.)
Wood River, IL (4.2 mi.)
Pontoon Beach, IL (4.8 mi.)
East Alton, IL (5.7 mi.)
Rosewood Heights, IL (6.0 mi.)
Glen Carbon, IL (6.5 mi.)
Glasgow Village, MO (6.9 mi.)


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Comments (7)

  1. I lived in Granite city Ill most of my life. Hartford Castle was a very spooky place in the 50’s and 60’s when we were growing up. We always heard stories of gangsters that had frequented the place. and things that happpened out there. For those of you that do not know, Pog Rd is out in the woods, with not to much lighting. When we were teenagers we would drive out and park at the bridge crossing a creek just about a mile or so from the castle. There were people living there at the time. We would hike as close as we could to get a peek at it then the dogs would start barking and we would haul ass out of there. A shout out to Marilyn M, Linda B, and Olen W.S, remembering the good old days………………………

  2. That Lakeview was used as a speakeasy is mere speculation. Although it may have some truth to it, it is not proved. After Mr. Biszant left, it became (or so we believe) a boy’s military school, a school for unwed mothers, a resort, possibly a speakeasy, and finally a private residence. Now it is owned by a local doctor, and it is prohibitied to enter the premises without express permission.
    If you have any information about his unknown wife, I would love to hear from you. Thank you for your article. 🙂

    • No, it is no speculation. It was called Vidakovic’s Castle, and Mrs. Vidakovic and my grandmother, Theresa Kladar and her mother brewed beer and had a dance hall there throughout prohibition and maybe as late as WW2. My grandma and family told many great stories about the mansion which they had dug a moat around to keep revenuers out. ay some point my grandma was arrested. She said two young policeman who frequented the dancehall as patrons came to her house in East Alton where they brewed beer in the basement. She said she answered the door and the looked so upset, and they kept saying,”oh, we’re so sorry, Mrs. Kladar” she said they explained they had to take either my grandma or her mom to the courthouse in Edwardsville to be booked, and later my grandpa would have to pay a fine. He was at work at the Standard Oil (Amoco later) refinery. Grandma said, “We left all the kids with my mom. Those two nice boys drove me to the courthouse and gave me a nice ride back home. It was good service!” The families were very proud of the beer and the dance hall, it was no mystery, but there is no one from my family left in Wood River now. (I graduated from EAWRCHS in 1986, and my father graduated from there in 1942) I remember when the ruins of the castle burned, everyone was heartbroken even though it had been vacant for years.

  3. Anyone interested it is hard to find. You will pass the river on poag rd, then pass old poag road, there will be a second steep bridge over the railroad, you need to pull to the right before crossing this bridge. If you go over or reach the Louis and Clark park you have gone a 10th of a mile too far.
    Anyways, after pulling over to the right you will navigate between a lot of water, mosquitos, large spiders, snakes and tons of frogs. You will find multiple animal path a but only one closer to the tracks that leads to a collapsed bridge over the moat. Currently people have stacked some old rotten sticks in the water you may be able to balance on. I could not in flip flops and the mosquitos were going through the repellant and tearing us apart. But if you can get past that you are in the clear! You will see cement markers from long ago and a cement bridge.

    Ryan Spurgeon of Carol Stream, il.

  4. First, the man was not French and his name was John J. Biszantz, not Benjamin Biszant. He was German. Second, his wife never made it to Lake View. She passed away in 1890. The castle/moated grange was built in 1896/7–how does it make sense that her ghost followed him to his new home? I believe when people hear the word castle, their imaginations soar with thoughts of damsels in distress, secret passageways, etc. She was from St. Louis. There was more to the love story, though, because before he sold Lake View, he was bamboozled by fake spiritualists in LA. He was skeptical at first, but he began to believe they were reaching out across the other side and speaking to his wife who had died 22 years before. They even went so far as to have a woman appear in a glass case (from below it, mind you) and he kissed her, believing it was the apparition of his wife. Well, The Justice League brought down these ‘spritualist’s’ shenanigans–the ruse began to unraval when they wanted him to marry one of the conspirators–he refused because he believed it would not make his deceased wife happy. So, there is a love story here…but not the one that is told about the place in local print, etc. Biszantz sold the property in 1913 and lived the rest of his life in Los Angeles, CA. He passed away in 1954. It is a tragedy that the mansion burned down in 1973–it should be a BnB or museum today. No one is permitted on the property without permission from the owners.

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Disclaimer: The stories posted here are user-submitted and are, in the nature of "ghost stories," largely unverifiable. HauntedPlaces.org makes no claims that any of the statements posted here are factually accurate. The vast majority of information provided on this web site is anecdotal, and as such, should be viewed in the same light as local folklore and urban legends.