Lakeview Castle

In the morning the keeper of the house, Henry Meyers, found Podner, arrested him, and took him to Edwardsville, where he turned him over to the authorities. A pair of slippers found on the young man caused a charge of larceny to be entered. Podner is mentally unbalanced as a result of his terrible night, and declares that the house is haunted and shrinks back in horror when someone talks to him of his terrible night. He is held to the grand jury, but his mental condition may be inquired into.


Lakeview Castle was a 14-room mansion built in 1897 by Benjamin Biszant, a Frenchman, who purchased 38 acres near the Cahokia Creek Canal (near Hartford) in the 1890s. A moat, stocked with goldfish, was dug with teams of horses. The dirt from the moat formed the rise on which the castle was constructed. A drawbridge and white turrets on the home completed the “castle-like” appearance. Many of the materials for the home were imported from Europe.

After the death of his wife, Biszant took her remains to England for burial, passed Lakeview down to his son, J. J. Biszant, and moved to California. J. J. Biszant, a widower, moved to Los Angeles and was swindled out of his money by spiritualists, who claimed they could help him contact his dead wife, Lily. He fled back to Lakeview, in fear of his life after helping to expose the mediums who had taken his money. He stated that he worried that the mediums would burn down the castle in revenge.

The castle later changed ownership frequently – housing a boys’ military school, a home for unwed mothers, and a speakeasy during Prohibition. It was then sold to a Wood River couple. Whispers of hauntings at the castle were exchanged by local residents. Strange happenings began to occur, and nearby farmers avoided the area at night.

The castle then became a target for vandals, who ripped fireplace mantles from the walls, smashed chandeliers, and gouged holes in the walls. It was condemned by inspectors. The castle was destroyed by fire March 21, 1973.

Today, only remnants remain of the once beautiful castle. What did young Podner see in the mirror? Was it his own reflection? While being held in the Edwardsville jail, Podner swore it was not his face he saw in the mirror. He told the authorities of hidden passageways, a musty dungeon, terrifying moans, and high-pitched shrieks and cries of pain from various parts of the house. He was so tormented from his experience that he tried to commit suicide.

I could find no further information on Podner. He probably spent a small amount of time in jail and was released. The property that once held Castle Lakeview (also called the Hartford Castle) sits silent today, where ghosts can freely walk among the ruins.(Property owners have requested that no one visit the grounds of the former castle.)