Dunham Castle (Wayne, IL)
This extravagant residence, built in 1883 by Mark Dunham (1842-1899), stands as a monument to the once great horse business that made the Dunham family rich and famous. Mark Dunham was the youngest child of Solomon Dunham. Solomon had moved to Chicago in 1835, and soon claimed land for himself in the St. Charles area. On his newly aquired land, for which he paid $1.25 per acre, the elder Dunham built a log cabin. Later, this crude home would be replaced by a small brick building.
Upon the death of his father, Mark Dunham inherited Oaklawn Farm. Dunham had a great interest in horses, but especially a breed know as the Percherons. These large draft horses from France proved to be excellent in pulling farm equipment. Dunham began importing and breeding these horses; in fact, he was the first to do so. Not only did the horse breeding earn Dunham vast sums of money, it also brought the gratitude of both French and American people. The size of the farm expanded to 2,000 acres and the breeding business flourished until the early decades of the 20th century. Eventually, the invention of the power tractor and other farm machinery decreased the demand for such animals.
At the height of business, Dunham decided to build a new home. It was to be unlike any other in the area. The Dunhams based the idea for the design of their new home on that of French chateaux. With the assistance of Smith Hoag, an Elgin architect, the home became a reality. The building, of brick, and stone, with different colored slate roofing, stood surrounded by woods, gardens, and a gently sloping lawn. The interior sported parquet floors, statues, tapestries, and copies of fine French artwork.
In its heyday, Dunham Castle played host to several famous people. During the 1893 Colombian Exposition, a train from Chicago to Wayne brought guests to see the Percheron horses. Those that made the trip included Cyrus McCormick, George Pullman, and the Duke of Veragua--a direct descendent of Christopher Colombus. In the early 20th century, the residence served as a retreat for such politicians as Adlai Stevenson and Everrett Dirksen.
Following the death of Mark Dunham in 1899, his son, Wirth, inherited Dunham Castle. (Read more on the St. Charles Library website.)
LinksSt. Charles Library Historic Buildings - Dunham Castle St. Charles Heritage Center Village of Wayne - history IL Digital Archives - newspaper clippings
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Army Trail Rd & Dunham Rd, Wayne, IL 60184, USA