A Proper Entrance: "Your home is your castle"
by Ruth C. Jensen (from "Shawneeawkee/Friendly Fontana")
When Arthur first began platting County Club Estates, he wanted an entrance that would suggest to homeowners they had finally come home to their castle.
He had been using a basic pillar gate design on his letterhead and promotional literature, but felt it was too similar to other gates found around Geneva Lake.
Finally he gave a rough sketch for a “castle gate” to his commercial artist friend Art Theobald, who came up with the final design and building plan.
The construction was done by Morissey Brothers in 1927. The exterior is mostly stucco, laid over chicken wire formed around a wooden frame.
Arthur liked the effect of the Castle Gates, so he incorporated the design into his letterhead. He even used Art Theobald’s design drawing as a Christmas card.
A number of years after completion in 1941, Arthur deeded the Castle Gates to the CCE Property Owners Association. The deed included the land on both sides of Shabbona Drive that the Castle Gate structure sits on.
Part of the land that Arthur bought to develop Country Club Estates was once farmland. This included land where the Gates now sit, as well as the current CCE golf course and most of the “Back 40”. Old photos show these areas as mostly devoid of trees.
The trees surrounding the Gates and the immediate area have been growing since the early 1920’s. some trees were planted by Arthur, some by the CCEPOA, others by nearby homeowners and still others grew naturally.
In 1992 the railway bridge was torn down. That part of Shabbona Drive that sloped up from the Gates to meet Highway BB was leveled off and then resurfaced.
In the earlier days the tops of the twin towers were left open so pigeons could roost inside. Over the years, this has caused such a mess that deterioration to the framework set in. Damage was also caused from tall delivery trucks running into the structure. (A height limit sign is now posted to warn tall trucks to keep out).
In 1991 John Tierney did a major repair of the landmark structure (which had become somewhat dilapidated), at a cost of $18,000. The structure is now in excellent condition.