A Castle Along the Mississippi
A little piece of England in Illinois. Located six miles south of Galena, Ill. on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi stands the Goldmoor Inn. Named after its founder, the late James “Goldy” Goldthorpe, the Goldmoor recalls an era that never was—one of Old World English country manors dotting the river’s banks.
“The weddings are my favorite. So full of hope—they always bring a tear to my eye.” –Patricia Smith
“James’ family was English, and he had a desire to build a castle high on the river bluffs,” says Patricia Smith, Goldy’s widow. She is also the current innkeeper and proprietor of the Goldmoor Inn. “The inn was James’ vision, and I have done everything within my power to continue that vision in his memory,” Patricia says of her late husband who passed away in 2008.
That vision began with the original seven acres James purchased in 1981 to build his dream home. Hailing from Millidgeville, Ill., a small town 65 miles southeast of Galena, James discovered the property while working along the Mississippi as a tour guide. Here he built his home that soon after became a two room B&B before spectacularly morphing into what it is today.
Patricia tells us the Goldmoor now encompasses 28-acres of land and includes two authentic log cabins and three country cottages for guests. And that doesn’t include the centerpiece main inn. “The main inn has six rooms and the attached lodge has seven,” She continues, “We also have a lovely outdoor pavilion that sits on the edge of the meadow, surrounded by beautiful flowered gardens.” Altogether, the Goldmoor can accommodate up to 41 guests for overnight stay, and up to 250 for events at the pavilion.
It’s not surprising to learn that such an idyllic setting is popular with couples looking for a memorable place to say their wedding vows. “We are one of the leading properties in the country for destination weddings,” shares Patricia. “We’ve hosted everything from intimate two-person ceremonies to those with 250 attendees.” In fact, in September 1997, Patricia and James were married in the rose garden, the first of more than 300 weddings that have since taken place on the inn’s grounds.
Patricia tells us about other events hosted at the Goldmoor Inn: “We have ‘First Friday’ BBQ parties, traditional five-course English Christmas Carol dinners—we celebrate nearly every holiday with a special event or dinner.”
While guests enjoy plenty of great dining, sightseeing, and shopping nearby, the Goldmoor Inn has more than enough to keep them staying close. “Each of our 18 suites offers both a whirlpool and a fireplace, full breakfast, complimentary Wi-Fi, heated towel bars, and bicycles to explore the property—we even have the complimentary cookies and coffee covered,” Patricia says. With all of this, as well as dining and spa services on site, guests might be excused for never making the six-mile drive into historic Galena, the two mile jaunt to Chestnut Mountain ski resort, or the 20-minute hop to the National Mississippi River Museum located in nearby Dubuque, Iowa.
Today, Patricia and her husband Tom share innkeeper duties at the Goldmoor. “I met Tom through church,” Patricia tells us. “He has been such a help and a blessing to me. Tom owned a painting and construction company, so he’s very handy to have around the inn, too!” Patricia enthuses. “He loves the property and, from what I’ve been told, gives the best tours.”
If you would like to visit the Goldmoor Inn, make your reservations early. Patricia tells us, “Our high season runs from Memorial Day through Halloween. We run a full house on weekends and often remain at capacity during the week.”
For more information:
The Goldmoor Inn / 9001 Sand Hill Road / Galena, IL.
(815) 777-3925 / www.goldmoor.com