Walter A. Strong

Stronghold, a brief history...


Stronghold Retreat and Conference Centerin Oregon, Illinois, was founded in 1963 after the Presbyterian Church PC(USA) purchased the property. The mission of Stronghold is to "provide opportunities for the people to experiance a biblicial vision for the human community through a retreat and camping enviornment."

The property was originally purchased in 1928 by Walter A. Strong, the owner & publisher of the Chicago Daily News. The newspaper was known for its literary efforts, and sought to expose corruption during the lawlessness of the Prohibition Era.

In 1929, construction began on the Strong's Tudor style home, known as the "Castle." A quarry was opened by Mr. Strong to provide stone for the castle and it was completed in 1931. Strong envisioned a summer home away from Chicago to allow his children to experiance nature and embrace God's love, matching today's mission of Stronghold.

Walter died suddenly on May 10th, 1931 before the completeion of his summer home. His ashes were placed on the property at the Circle of Pines slightly north of the castle. His widow, Josephine never remarried and continued to own the property until her death in September, 1961. 

Walter's children sold the property to the Presbyterian Church for roughly $185,000. During the family's ownership, construction was completed on three structures still in existance today at Stronhold. David's Tower, constructed around 1940, Oakwood House, located in the south woods and used for staff housing, and the Toboggann Tower. Stronghold is also home of two natural bogs and two hillside praires.

Since 1963, Stronghold has operated summer camps including mission groups and volunteer projects. Today, Stronghold continues to offer summer camps, weddings, reunions, banquets, retreats for spirtual enrichment, group bonding retreats, family camping at our family campgrounds and so much more.

We also have programming for high ropes, our low teambuilding challenge course and environmental education.

Come share the fun and enjoy the beauty of nature on 360 acres of ecologically diversity along the Rock River in Oregon, IL.