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Hooky Day in a Hidden Castle of Southern Illinois

Goff Castle in Souther Illinois

Hooky day provided me the opportunity to go somewhere I had been wanting to go since finding out about it online a year ago. I absolutely love the Shawnee National Forest areas of Southern Illinois, and in looking for places to stay I stumbled across the Bruce Goff Castle in Cobden, Illinois which is about 10 minutes south of Carbondale (2.5 hours from St. Louis).

Tucked away in the woods next to the protected Shawnee Forest was this extraordinary mid-century modern stone structure that fits perfectly into the hillsides. For a price, you can reserve this to yourself and call it your own as you explore the area.

“The House should therefore assume a natural place in the rocky Hillside site; It should provide a comfortable retreat for reading and writing in the midst of his thousand of books; it should make and appropriate setting for the social life the Duncans enjoyed, And it should include some Louis Sullivan artifacts as symbolic reminders of the sociological principles of architecture which Professor Duncan discerned in Sullivan’s works and writings…”

An excerpt from Inland Architect

Nov. 1971 (via

The home was originally designed and constructed for Hugh Duncan, a sociology professor at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. Duncan chose Bruce Goff, who was known for his unusual designs and for his portfolio of projects that varied in style. But most of all, he was chosen because of his previous work and study within the traditions of Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.

It’s an amazing destination, and even more amazing that you can spend several nights here milling around as if it’s your own.

A view of the interior, primarily constructed of stone from the area. Goff also used many artifacts from demolished Louis Sullivan buildings in Chicago.

This is the view from inside the outdoor shower. What was originally a “mud room” is a stone circular building positioned to line up for views of specific rock formations nearby.

Before I left the property, the owner was kind enough to pull out the original drawings. It’s an amazing set of blueprints that covered every aspect of the building and helped me understand the original intentions of the building.

Here I am on the patio on the furthest side back of the property, wondering what all my fellow co-workers were doing right at this moment.

Bruce Goff statement:

“We desire to enter into and inhabit any great and original work of art — to possess it and allow it to possess us, be it literature, painting, music or architecture. This is why architecture is such a powerful art: we can inhabit it physically as well as spiritually in time and space. Someday perhaps it will, like music, become less earth-bound, more flexible and athletic, more ever-changing and free.”

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Written by Jay David