Castle Home Page
Castle Info
Room Rates
Reservation Policies
Guest Reservation Calendar
Local Activities
Castle Pictures

Image provided by David Milstead, Architect

The castle library contains an extensive collection of books, and magazines regarding Bruce Goff along with various pictures of the castle building process and other articles published shortly after the castle structure was built. The Art Institute of Chicago also kindly provided the castle various blueprints used in construction as well as a copy of all the communication that was saved between the Duncan's and Bruce Goff during the process of planning and building this monumental creative effort. Perhaps a telling comment regarding Duncan's and Bruce Goff's relationship was authored by Bruce Goff :) regarding a chance to get a meeting organized - "Also, I look forward to seeing your slides and talking with you. I hope we can be alone as it is hard to discuss things with too many present. I will try to keep the coast clear.


"An excerpt from Inland Architect

Nov. 1971- "A Cave of a House In Southern Illinois" by Lon R. Shelby an Associate Professor of History At Southern Illinois University and former colleague Of Hugh Duncan.

"As Sullivan Taught, we must ask: What kinds of action is supposed to take place in a building, and how do we solve the problem of staging such action?" ,,,

"That is, we do have relationships and then turn to the architect to 'draw' the forms which will make possible the relatedness we have in mind. If we knew how to do this we would not need architects, but draftsmen who could 'carry out' our intentions.",,,

So wrote the late Professor Hugh Duncan in his book, Culture and Democracy, about the time he was planning to build his own home in the hill country of Souther Illinois South of Carbondale, ILL, where he taught in the Sociology and English Departments of the Southern Illinois University." ,,,

 "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...

"To obtain an archictecture that would shape and maintain these relationships, Duncan turned to the eminent Bruce Goff, well known for his unusal domestic designs,,, and above all, an architect who had continued to work within the traditions of Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, while still charting his own course.",,,

Bruce Goff statement: "We desire to enter into and inhabit any great and original work of art - to possess it and allow it 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."

From - Bruce Goff  Toward Absolute Architecture , David G. DeLong 1988

Interestingly, Goff's last executed Illinois project was a residence for Hugh Daiziel Duncan (fig 14; see De Long, fig 24), a sociology professor who had recently completed a book on the philosophy and social context of Louis Sullivan. Concurrent with the publication of 'Culture and Democracy' in 1965, Duncan chose Goff to design his personal residence near Cobden, Illinois, because he felt that Goff's work most closely followed the spirit and ideas of Sullivan and Chicago's innovative early twentieth-century architectural movements.  Goff set into the rugged walls of the Duncan House a most unusual type of found object: architectural fragments gathered by Duncan from demolished Sullivan Buildings in Chicago

site rock out has two facial images large and small putting Mt Rushmore to shame with mere politicians on display

 (Recent email alert on the architecture fragments)
I thought you would be interested in this new book about Richard Nickel who rescued the Sullivan ornament fragments now embedded in the walls of your house.  You probably have the earlier book on Richard, "They All Fall Down" also by Richard Cahan.  As you know, Nickel and Hugh Duncan were friends and shared in the agony of seeing so many of Sullivan's Chicago buildings being destroyed.  Duncan got all that ornament from Nickel.  Maybe this new book will help you identify the individual pieces so visitors to your B&B can learn of Sullivan and his principles.


Chicago Reader | Architecture: A new book of Richard Nickel's photos captures the Chicago he fought so hard to save

Article regarding review on new book on Richard Nickel

Exerpt ;) Nickel lived in a time when that kind of continuity was considered expendable—at best an impediment to progress, at worst a contagion of decay. It’s scarcely different today. Just this year, three more of Sullivan’s 23 surviving Chicago buildings have been destroyed, two within days in disastrous fires. And while there’s been no shortage of dismayed reaction, I regularly get comments on my blog (arcchicago along the lines of “Get a life. No one wants to preserve crap” and “The idea that a group of people can impose their will on the property rights of others’ economic self-interest is a slap in the face to the modern business spirit.” When the market economy remains our one true religion, there’s never a shortage of those who would destroy beauty with malice and replace it with sh_t for spite."


Bruce Goff was noted to live for a short period with most of his clients to enable him to build structures that suited the people and their individual needs. This structure afforded a house to accommodate two main elements of the Duncan family, namely a library area and sanctum area in the back tall tower for Hugh Duncan's pursuits as a scholar and in a liberated era of good fairness, Mina Duncan had the top of the front tower set up for her needs as a Violinist. As indicated in the previous paragraph Duncan was heavy into Louis Sullivan, but features in the house which also engaged the structures design involved honor to,  FLW, (as noted by castles daytime light effects though not attained by FLW's spinning of rectangular structures to attain FLW's appreciation of how the ancient Mayan's accomplished the constant exchange of going from light to dark areas, or FLW's glass meeting on glass and, alas, I do jokingly blame excess interest in flat roofs, (before technology came along lately to make it more feasible), on FLW. A third architect honored  was FLW's early apprentice, Walter Burley Griffin, who put to rest the Prairie League School of architecture when he finished building the last structure called, the Stimpson Library, (some handful of miles away in the town of Anna, Illinois), and then sensibly leaving this country when he won the contest to build the Capital of Australia in 1913. By sensibly, I do mean the opportunity of accomplishing great design ideas (fractallying) like building in the up coming Iron Horse Age walk ways under roads, (so children and adults could live longer), along with integrating green areas with deep respect for nature being incorporated in urban zones that to this date even note the capital growing in this manner happily ever after. The direct relationship to the castle is the unique handling of rock laying in an organic respectful fractal fashion as well as the castle floor plan itself being a designed fractal.

"Between 1901 and 1913, Walter Burley Griffin designed some 130 houses, landscapes and buildings. He is now credited with developing the L-shaped floor plan (which Frank Lloyd Wright took credit), the carport (which did not see common use until the 1950s), and the first use of reinforced concrete. Many of his homes carry the familiar design elements of the Prairie School.Yet Griffin, true to the urging of his mentor Louis Sullivan, developed his own style of architecture free from the constraints of historical precedent.

Anna Stimson Library

You may tour some of Griffin's most fascinating American designs. You can enlarge the photographs by clicking on the images." -



Duncan also had apparent intentions to honor Bruce Goff via pulling off a inside outside environmental delight to compare with FLW's 'falling over brook' structure in PA. Its not hard to see a celebration of America's unique beauty harkening back to the time of Daniel Boone signing into the cave below, (which was connected to the castle above), that also, at that time, would have got the Father of American Landscape Painting , Delacroix, seal of approval. The castle environment includes a fairly mature forest canopy with trees that take more than few arms to effectively hug the same; the absence of mesquitoes day or night make sitting on the deck or patios a pleasure as you watch local bats clear the area and are left to giving butterflies and moths a hard time, the way the rocks on this three sided mountain top were tossed about during the major release of water from the last ice age melt, provide aesthetics to delight the eye and the cave openings ought to please spelunkers or even others. In the winter, when the weather is cold a spooky sight as steam/fog wisps about the forest floor vents, but even added to all this delight is the total absence of seeing the outside world during most parts of the year. You can hear the trains as they pass thru Cobden; you can feel assured life is going on elsewhere, but while at the castle your in a forested enviornment that harkens a state of relaxation excluded from watching the hordes of iron horses or their multitude of occupants passing by. In the summer the forest canopy provides a cooler temp in of this southern climate provides and being on the West side of the mountain both the light of day or the heat starts later at about the time the breeze from the lower forest floor starts pushing updrafts for buzzards and such kind to aid thier soaring about. The six hundred tons of rock and the castles deftly design venting provide a great buffer against the summer heat requiring only shutting most of the vents late in the morning til early in the evening, such that the use of air conditioners, would usally need being turned on average of two days during the last three years I have monitored the situation. Instead of a humming noise of an air conditioning machine the sounds of the forest and the water fountain in the goldfish pond is by far in my opinion superior. THEN AGAIN DURING THE SUMMER OF 2005 A PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONER HAS BEEN INSTALLED TO SERVE ONE MASTER BEDROOM (ITS LIBRARY QUIET AS THE ADVERTISEMENT INDICATED ; In 2006 climate chage took a turn for the worst and two more portable air conditioner were added and should serve to maintain the castle in pleasant manner, under the most trying situation as last year noted. But in 2007 a lenghty heat wave has meant installing two more portable units for a total of 44000 BTU output.
These air conditioners also sport dehumidifiers, some with outside air exchange, one with an ionic exchanger. and one that even pulls air from the inside to the outside. I would like to suggest folks can get a good nights rest, but alas,  on rare occassion the local huge, (six foot wing span) owl has been noted by visitors at about 4am to perch on the castle and start calling its mate with a very loud and might add beautiful voice for 15 minutes than another 15 minutes uttering a strange gutteral conversations that would put folks talkative parrots to shame. It's hard to figure what the conversation is about but seeing that this situation occurs rather rarely I think it's some parental discussion regarding refusing to feed the overgrown brood one day longer than necessary as they devise plans on kicking the youngsters out of the nest for good. ..,

The castle was constructed using over 600 tons of local sand stone creek-bed rocks. This building is one of the 146 designs of Bruce Goff that were built during his career of which, less than 80 now are in existence. Sadly this Castle like structure had itself come too close to becoming a total ruin before its time. The sturdy structure endured a period of destruction by folks, who thought great neighborhood art ought be destroyed. Nearly all the windows and doors were destroyed on the first floor, when the property languished before sale,(a period of one and half years), during the estate change of the original owner. A second owner eventually purchased the castle and in a very direct way at least halted the structure from becoming a complete ruin. Faced with the problems just described, and roof and windows leaking, along with a heating system that fell apart (voiding use of the underground radiant system), drastic actions were called for to make it livable as a residence . The second owner also had to cope with a changing world, namely an energy crisis with fuel bills running supposedly at $2,000 a month. Sadly for the third and fourth owner the solution of the time in the late 70's was to foam the roof structure including most of the window areas save for a few Plexiglas coverings. At the same time the second owner wiped out use of the main fire place in order to put vent pipes up from a wood/oil furnace. The second owner did do something which was appreciated namely drilling a deep well. The main fireplace was replaced with a propane boiler exiting the venting througn wall in the basement and the lighting rods and chimney hood ornament reinstalled. A second wood burning stove was installed several years ago about the time the cost of using propane gas began its doubling in price (abursdly now quadrupling of the price is a sad state of affairs).

Then a third owner-caretaker stumbled upon a dream castle

Tribute to the Third Owner:

Taken from 'Friends of Kebyar' by Dave Milstead and Tom Dean.
 The Castle Queen - Carol, the Person

Carol Etzkorn acquired and settled into the Bruce Goff designed Duncan Dwelling much in the same way a seeds will find a place to take root and grow where is most natural. Her love of nature was first and foremost in her mind and heart. This aspect of her character plus her education and work as a horticulturist made her so right to live in this dwelling as the "Castle Queen ", which we all came to affectionately address her. The dwelling is now referred to as the Duncan-Etzkorn Dwelling as she made the place her home

Carol' friendship was wonderful and she has left a lasting impression on all that knew her.  She loved living in the "castle", as all the locals refer to the residence, and was very passionate and completely devoted to restoring the residence to its original condition and also adding her personal touches that made the "castle" her own. She had planted a wide variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees all around the site that enhanced the site the atmosphere both inside and outside the house.

Carol's unimaginable love for her new home and her relentless pursuit of restoring and repairing it was truly remarkable. Her interest quickly expanded to studying other works by Mr. Goff and including many of his design ideas in and around the house as she continued to make it her own. Having discovered Mr. Goff's use of glass cullets, she began to embellish her home and gardens with them. Carol was the perfect individual to own a work of architecture, in particular this one. It is natural for a work of architecture to grow just as nature does and Mr. Goff always welcomed growth of an idea by his clients, as exemplified on several of his projects.

Six weeks before her death on March 21, 2001 after battling cancer for nearly three years, her latest tests showed she was cancer free. We were all very excited, making plans for all the things we would work on this summer including details of the restoring the roofing, skylights, and one of the entries, back to the original design. …

The Future of the House

Carol's brother, is an artist and has been living in Minnesota for the past several years. He now plans to move into the home and continue the work, which Carol began, of gradually restoring the house to the original condition.

He also plans to continue the Bed and Breakfast practice of opening the home to visitors who are interested...,

 The story goes on with more restorations efforts having been completed in 2001 and 2002. Restorations in 2003 have included the removal of the plexiglass coverings on both main tall towers letting the light as spec'd shine as intended. Not quite complete but I thought it would be nice to show some of the early pics. Restorations efforts have been many, but of late some concentrating effort and funds have taking up time and resources to solve climate issues. Out of whack heating costs increases nearly doubling of propane costs required adapting more to wood heat, and a recent must do, like putting in a new residential treatment plant replacing a never was code, but grandfathered in septic system poor thinking on the part of the original owner have put on hold some projects til funds are saved up again. In the meantime lower cost restoration efforts have included taking out the majority of double paned thermo windows replacing with single panes so as to get the intended views and reflections that are not blured to the point of not being enjoy the design intent (an example of appreciation was when a BobCat decided to feast on my large koi to the point of there were none left, comes to the front porch sniffing my weber, likely objecting that I failed to smoke the fish with the fine taste provided by using black cherry firewood, such that the oversized kitty spotted another gorgeous kitty in the window and proceeded to spend 5 minutes considering walking thru the glass to the other side. Also appreciated in changing the windows was that Bruce Goff set some of the windows to reflect the outside in and the inside out from opposite views outdoors. Besides tuck pointing here and there and stopping leaks and other matters, repairing roads, replacing cook stove ect.,  One other continuing restoration effort that is paying off as an improvement around here has been the removal of old wax from the unique floor tiling that built up due largely to the beveled pattern and the build up of of the old waxes in the past.  The tiles feel great on feet and refracts incoming light uniquely) and I suppose being made of plastic didn't seem to like getting its wax removed.  Over a dozen of differing products on the market never did anything close to the corporate claims and dish dawn soap seemed to be the product seemed to even make a slight dent in taken off the older buildup.

 Then in the last year with the use a new liquid 'spic n span formula product marked improvement has occurred. As such the white and mother of pearl streaks with green moss splatters have finally been starting to lighten up the look around the castle and give a more proper contrast to the rock walls. - update- A recent changing out of faucet provided some examples of original like quality of the tile that has been a missing piece of the puzzel

 The tile exposed to light had noted the spaces between the spiral sections as gray to blackish apparently effected not by traffic or necessarily cleaning. My guess at looking closely at the painted on green line sections the producers of this product had likely baked the paint. Off hand it appeared to have been accrylic substance that had simply lost its ultraviolet inhibitors protection that was common from the start of the usage of that paint in the early fifties of the last century or the paint mixture had no ultraviolet inhibitors to begin with.

This restortation effort  looks like a little fun for the likes of a painter like myself well trained in the hard edge technique by the actual Father of OP ART - S.H.Rogoff -Park Forest, IL


A film critic going off the wall gripes :( The "castle" and "cave" characterizations of the house are local inventions that appeal to the literal-minded and serve to obsure Goff's intentions which were, like all great art, not literal." ;0) 

1) The first noted castle reference-  by Jane Heron ( Mina's niece)- in a published article writen for the Inland Architect magazine directs the invention to perhaps the first mentioning to a very non local person- "I remember Minna telling me that Goff's work was "just wild'. She later told me that in the drawings the house looked like a medieval castle from the front elevation; she tried to explain the towers and circles, but it was just a muddle"

 2)  The cave literal invention most likely didn't seem to bother Bruce Goff.  In a letter dated (Nov. 1970) and addressed to Bruce Goff authored by a notable architecural historian, Lon Shelby, and denotes  Bruce Goff  working with him on article curriously titled "Cave of a House" and exchanging pictures that ended up published in the magazine, Inland Architect.

Rich Cave outlet view before the iron gates in place to protect bats from a fungal desease.

Seems to me a similiarity might exist that cave like descriptions are not without association to above castle window view.


An associate of BG's appears as a good site for exploring the possible viewpoints belonging to Bruce Goff when sorting fact from fiction at this building site.  Its always nice to know truths from hearsay or bullore


Complimentary reviews from guests:  Just a quick note to thank you again for your hospitality during our recent stay. The extra time and attention that you gave us to make our stay enjoyable was very meaningful to us. it was certainly a unique experience to share the castle and its environment with you, It was truly a memorable stay. Sincerely,

Good morning,
I just wanted to let you know we really enjoyed our stay this weekend with you. What an unique and beautiful place you are able to be involved with. ---- went home and worked on his oil painting, using the look of stacked rock on the bridge area he had in his picture, he must have been inspired by the place.This is good. Sounded like everyone would have enjoyed fishing, unfortunately I did not relay any information to them about that. Next time we will try that. Look forward to coming again sometime and I will let a few people whom I know would also appreciate and be inspired, know what a relaxing and pleasant stay it is. Thanks again for outstanding hospitality and for hanging with us and filling in all the historical info you have.

Thanks again for a wonderful weekend. ,,, thouroughly enjoyed your thoughtful hospitality. I have to tell it was difficult to leave such a peaceful place. The serene aura of the castle is something we'll always remember. 

Also see link below:


I strongly suggest folks peruse the "Friends of Kebyar" web site -

as a great way to become acquainted with happenings in this continuing style of organic architecture.


 The castle was honored to be included in a film project of all the existing Bruce Goff's structures that were agreeable to be filmed by an illustrious artist/photographer and architectural Professor from the Berlin University of the Arts.  At this time you can see short QuickTime films of all the sites visited (The Castle is Day Number - 42.) The Web Site to check out ;) - thanks to Prof. Heinz Emigholz - Film maker, instigator and head of the project

On this epic journey Prof Emigholz travels with trusted and tried collaborators, May Rigler and Uilie Etter as production assistants. To have watched this skilled group at work will long be a memorable event at the castle. To see some other efforts by this illustrious group in particular works of art by Louis Sullivan check in its film section

"A superb documentary"- L.A. WEEKLY

In this unique documentary, German filmmaker Heinz Emigholz presents the work of inventive American architect Bruce Goff.  Apprenticed at age 12 but never formally educated as an architect, Goff's work displays a unique style that sets it apart from most 20th-century architecture. The Episcopal Church in Tulsa built in the 1920s is a towering Art Deco icon, while the Hopewell Baptist Church in Edmond resembles a strange futuristic concrete teepee that challenges the surrounding landscape.


Employing a filmmaking method consisting primarily of a series of filmed photographs, Emigholz brilliantly exposes details of Goff's structures that might otherwise be missed, making these fascinating artefacts even more intriguing.

Germany/2003/Color/110 mins.  German with English Subtitles.

Directed, photographed, and edited by Heinz Emigholz. Produced by Irene von Alberti and Frieder Schlaich for Filmgalerie 451.

DVD Features: "Making of" featurette, Commentary, On-Screen Biographies, Scene Selection

DVD $29.95 ---- purchaseable via Amazon or Net Flix rental


I offer these following source materials: "The Architecture of Bruce Goff  (1904-1982)  Design for the Continuous Present"- ,Prestel  (Art Institute of Chicago) pg. 54 - 1995

Interestingly, Goff's last executed Illinois project was a residence for Hugh Daiziel Duncan (fig 14; see De Long, fig 24), a sociology professor who had recently completed a book on the philosophy and social context of Louis Sullivan. Concurrent with the publication of 'Culture and Democracy' in 1965, Duncan chose Goff to design his personal residence near Cobden, Illinois, because he felt that Goff's work most closely followed the spirit and ideas of Sullivan and Chicago's innovative early twentieth-century architectural movements.  Goff set into the rugged walls of the Duncan House a most unusual type of found object: architectural fragments gathered by Duncan from demolished Sullivan Buildings in Chicago. -----
Pg. 30,

Goff explaining his concept of 'Continuous present' (related to the Bavinger House)

"I wanted to do something that had no beginning and no ending.  Gertrude Stien says we begin and begin again and again; this house begins again and again. She talks about the sense of not being in the past, present or future tense, but in the "continuous present." I was thinking in those terms".

Goff later added:

The Bavinger House, earth-bound as it is, is a primitive example of the continuity of space-for-living… it is not a "back-to-nature" concept of living space. It is a living with nature today and every day [in] space, again as part our continuous present". 

"Bruce Goff - Towards Absolute Architecture" David G Delong , 1988

The Chicago Institute of Art holds a full collection of Bruce Goff's many achievements as an architect, teacher and a substantive designer/painter.