My previously visits to the main mansion have always sparked an interest in expanding my coverage of this location to the St Paschel Friary located at the southwest end of the estate that and the gloomy, humid overcast served as the perfect backdrop for an excursion to this isolated and somewhat menacing portion of the property…I elected to park in the “dog park” lot just north of the building and hiked to the main entrance off of the main road that much to my delight was chained but devoid of “no trespassing” signs…as I made my way up the driveway and the massive structure loomed into view I was overwhelmed with an a sense of foreboding that the oppressive building seemed to amplify as I approached …as I got close enough to the front door to peer through the windows I noticed that there were actually lights on inside at random places that served as a stark contrast to the state of disrepair, abandonment and overgrowth insinuated from the outside….
- Following the acquisition of the property by the Franciscans, the St. Francis Retreat House was established. Retreats began in 1925 and were held through 1991. The Franciscans built the St. Joseph Seminary in 1925-1927 located west of the present day Mayslake site. The Seminary closed in 1977. The structure was demolished in 1992 and Covingtgon Court subdivision was built upon the site. The Retreat Wing, located at the west side of the Peabody mansion was built in the 1950′s for retreatants. St. Paschal’s Friary was built entirely by hand between 1950 and 1967 by the Franciscan Friars. Fr. Rene Ettelbrick, architect, designed the building after a castle in Wurzburg, Germany. The Friary closed in 1991.
Right off of 83 there is this massive Gothic looking structure, that’s quite creepy, this massive structure is Peabody’s mansion, Peabody reportedly died of a heart attack and shortly after that his family moved out of the house, the place is truly creepy and locals often see apparitions.
The Du Page forest County Preserve District that has assumed ownership of the Peabody/Mayslake Property permits access up to an hour prior to sunrise and an hour after sunset to accommodate The fishing on Mayslake,the various civic and social functions held at the mansion and the seasonal “Shakespeare Under The Stars” theatrical presentations that they hold on the Northeast corner of the property on a permanent stage assembled stage adjacent to the Portiuncula Chapel in Assisi, Italy replica where Mr Peabody is entombed….
As my intention was to capture twilight photos of the mansion within the time frame of the post sunset hour limit and then plot a surreptitious jaunt to the remote and then proceed to the abandoned friary afterwords I planned my departure and arrival in accordance with twilight time constraints …much to my delight I discovered that there was an art exhibit in progress on the ground floor which served as a green light to me to venture inside for some shots of the great Room overlooking the lake where the exhibit was being held in addition to a covert photo shoot of the lecture hall/chapel inside of the mansion complete with alters and stain glass windows…as i exited the mansion followed by the the inquisitive eyes of a few of the dwindling Oak Brook/Hinsdale hobnobbing snobbery that still were milling around the art exhibit i made my way out back to get some pretty good exterior night shots of the mansion with the ground floor still lit up from the night’s festivities …a group of teens that were engrossed in a coed game of ‘Red Rover” continued to frolic on the rolling lakeside lawn of the estate oblivious to the observation I felt emanating from a darkened window of the second story master bedroom window above …
by the time I reached the Friary the sun had completely retreated beyond the western treeline and unlike the mansion was still buzzing with activity, this remote, dark and solitary phase of the evening’s photo shoot was one of mixed energies and emotion ranging from fear of being caught on a prohibited (I assume) section of the property that is devoid of no trespassing signs yet intuition dictated that neither the Forest Preserve or the Oak Brook police would accept my explanation of being “The Notorious Mr Halfhand” as legitimate reason for my presence there …there is evidently still [power there as I must have triggered a motion sensitive flood light in the courtyard but the additional lighting did little to assuage the ominous sensation I felt there mixed with the exhilaration this type of adventure brings…the lighting that illuminated interspersed sections of the interior hinted at the mood inside …I at that point felt more comfortable with the mosquitoes and the transient raccoon outside ..