Christmas joy at Benedict Castle

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By Meaghan Cunningham / Asst. Inscape Editor

By Meaghan Cunningham / Asst. Inscape Editor

When looking for inexpensive holiday cheer the Benedict Castle is a real treat. One day out of the year, the building which is home to Teen Challenge, displays castle Christmas lighting.

 

Benedict Castle, which is located off of Chicago Avenue is a place of history, special events, and most importantly Teen Challenge, a rehabilitation and counseling program for teens in crisis.

 

For Christmas, the castle is endowed with lights, Christmas trees, ornaments, and poinsettias. Upon arrival, the staff was more than welcoming and cheerful putting all frustrated drivers waiting in the car line back in the holiday spirit.

 

The lighting of the castle is complete with four tours, a live nativity scene, carolers, and hot cocoa.

 

The first tour is the rotunda. The rotunda has two staircases that lead up to a balcony that overlooks the music room/entertainment room. During the Christmas lighting event both staircases were filled with carolers singing all the holiday classics.

 

The second tour is inside the castle at Sanctuary or entertainment area where weddings are often held and residents as well as staff attend church.

 

The entertainment area was decorated with a huge Christmas tree adorned with lights and ornaments. Further inside is a balcony overlooking Riverside and a complete nativity scene.

 

The third tour is a small round room which Charles Benedict, who built Benedict Castle, used as his breakfast and card room. The shape of the room makes it especially easy to hear sounds.

 

In the past Benedict would sometimes entertain his non-trustworthy guests there so he could overhear their infidelities.

 

Also in the small round room is a small cellar where Benedict supposedly hid his alcohol during the 1920s Prohibition.

 

The fourth tour was the courtyard. The courtyard has a huge beautiful waterfall and displays the Seven Sorrows of Mary on the courtyard walls.

 

This art was done by the Servite Fathers of Catholic Order who bought the castle in 1953, where it served as a seminary and monastery until Teen Challenge bought it in 1971.

 

The courtyard is now used as a dining hall for the students and apartments for staff members.

 

During the Christmas lighting, Starbucks Coffee donated its time and coffee to the event, giving away coffee to all that passed through the courtyard.

 

And for those exhausted by all the excitement, there was a tamale stand which was also a donation from those lending their time and talent.

 

After the courtyard was a walkway leading back down to the castle where there was an elaborate Nativity scene complete with angels in white feather cloaks, shepherds, and a live donkey. The scene was a live reenactment of the Christmas Story of Jesus, including music and readings from the Bible.

 

All around the castle was holiday cheer. There were so many lights, volunteers, staff offering information on not only the services that go on but the history of the castle and the most beautiful sighting found around the castle.

 

The castle also has a tower named after Charles’s late wife, “Tourre Luisa,” which was closed at the time but was credited by many as being one of the best views of Riverside.

 

The Castle was elegant and beautiful, but most of all it was inviting. Everyone, whether staff, volunteers or guests was extremely welcoming.

 

The castle Christmas Lighting is held every year. Visitors can come and see Benedict Castle lit up and adorned for the holidays. Not only is the event completely free, (donations appreciated) but they also sell Christmas trees for those wanting to pick up an evergreen on the way out. The castle offers tours and welcomes everyone to come and check out Riverside’s historical beauty.

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