When Charles Benedict decided to build “Castillo Isabella” he had in mind a castle residence like those he had found in Europe. His merging of Spanish-Moorish and Mission Revival architectures is found throughout. Noted architect Henry Jeckel, perhaps best known for the exquisite Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, served as the chief architect on the Castle project, which was constructed over the course of 9 years starting in 1922.
Constructed of steel-reinforced concrete and thirty-pound adobe bricks baked on the premises in kilns, the castle’s foundation sits on a hill of bedrock overlooking Riverside and the surrounding communities, much like Benedict’s primary source of inspiration, the Alhambra Castle in Granada Spain. Among the building’s structural amenities are wood-framed stained-glass windows, iron grill work, heavy wooden doors with hand-forged iron latches and hinges, pegged plank hardwood and tiled floors, French doors from the first floor rooms to the courtyard, copper weather stripping and copper screens, tiled bath wells and floors combined with porcelain pedestal wash basins, tubs and shower stalls.
Benedict included an abundance of rooms – nineteen in all – within the walls of his 10,000 square foot residence. One enters the main floor through the huge vestibule with its elegant twin flanking stairways, a Llewellyn automatic elevator that reaches the penthouse, and a magnificent archway with six steps leading into his music/living room and banquet hall.
Adjacent to the banquet hall is the kitchen, butler’s pantry and the maid’s quarters; all necessary for a gentleman’s castle. Traveling down the hallway leads to the master bedroom suite, boasting a balcony that crosses the upper half of the room and leads to the sewing room. French doors lead out to the picturesque courtyard. Located at a level beneath the first floor are two guest suites with connected baths, a rumpus room and bar, along with a large wine cellar, utility and storage rooms.
Stone staircases lead to a second floor hallway where four bedrooms and two baths are found. One has the choice of an elevator paneled in Brazilian cherry wood or climbing 116 stairs up the tower to the penthouse tower retreat that includes a sitting room, bath, dressing room with four large closets and sets of French doors each leading to one of four balconies. Further up the stairway are a rooftop sun deck and the copper-skinned dome topping the tower.
Unique among all castle rooms is the domed breakfast room just off the banquet hall. With its cloud covered domed ceiling and the five hundred year old tile floor from a monastery in Mexico, the acoustics are near perfect, allowing even whispers to be heard clearly across the room. And what reputable castle would be complete without its own secret passage way? Benedict’s hidden passage lies behind an oak china cabinet and leads to an underground room where liquor was hidden from the prying eyes of prohibition era agents.
While there have been some changes to accommodate present day usage, the integrity of Benedict Castle remains to this day and it has been officially designated as the City of Riverside, California Cultural Heritage Landmark, number Thirteen.
Benedict Castle is also the home and headquarters of Teen Challenge of Southern California. TCSC is a free non-profit residential substance abuse prevention and recovery program headquartered in Riverside, California which partners with ten other strategically placed centers throughout Southern California. Teen Challenge International, the parent organization, operates approximately 190 centers in the USA and another 200 centers around the world. Each year Teen Challenge of Southern California serves over 200,000 men, women, and children in Southern California through resident and outreach programs. Teen Challenge has been locally and nationally recognized as one of the most effective programs of its kind.
By making Benedict Castle your special event destination, you are helping us provide invaluable vocational training for our students and helping us raise much needed funds to continue our free-of-charge residential and outreach abuse programs.