I was a teacher at Warren Township Highschool in Gurnee in the early 1980’s when I walked through the doors of this Grayslake mansion. I actually remember one visit where I wore one of my favorite lavender, white pin-striped dress with shoulder pads purchased at Chas A Stevens(no longer), sitting with a young friend and his Dad. I can see myself sitting at the clothed table overlooking the beautiful grounds. I remember taking my Mom, celebrating mother’s day for a special brunch and she commented about the magnificent clock in the lobby. I remember attending a special wedding of a friend in the banquet hall. Also meeting friends at the fireside reception or dark paneled bar was unique. Spending time on the beautiful property once owned by Wesley Sears, as a summer home, son of Richard Sears who owned Sears and Roebuck, was an amazing adventure; strolling through a courtyard that had thousands of tulips and daffodils. An iconic place that made Grayslake popular.
The house was built in 1938 with 17 rooms, eight bathrooms, and four fireplaces at the corner of Route 120 and 45. The Country Squire Restaurant was opened in 1954 by Martin and Edna Giesel and acquired by the Govas family in 1977. Patriarch William Govas died in 2008. The family continued the operation until 2012 when it was sold to Northwestern Medicine and completely raised to the ground. They closed without warning. Some claim to have venues booked there and had a rough time contacting anyone to resolve issues.
Again, another favorite of my Mom’s and many friends I worked with though different in decor was the Rustic Manor in Gurnee. One of my closest friends for 30 plus years, Caryl Clem, also a contributing writer, lived down the street; her family were Gurnee residents for many years. Caryl was a waitress at one time, wearing an Indian headband with a feather. Caryl talks about the red/white check tablecloths which was a trademark. There was a souvenir store inside the courtyard selling Indian artifacts and country decor. Gurnee was the Indian crossing point across the Des Plaines River so history was honored. I celebrated many family occasions at the restaurant. My Mom loved the Poor Man’s lobster. The restaurant was truly known for its western theme continuing inside and outside. It was also known for its taxidermy animal displays, as well as a waterfall that was there when you walked in the door. They were located on the northeast corner of Grand Avenue and Kilbourne, looking more like a house when they opened in 1947. According to what sources claim, the owners received their liquor license in 1945.
Victor and Marian Tryboms, along with their children Marjorie and Marvin, were farmers in Gurnee in the 1930’s and decided to give up farming to open the restaurant. The menu was based of Mrs. T’s family recipes. In 1986, the Desplaines River which was located behind the restaurant and Caryl’s home, also severely flooded. I remember helping her move out at the time. Even though the Rustic Manor tried to recover, a fire destroyed the restaurant soon after. The area was designated as a floodplain but just too costly to rebuild. The property was given to the Village of Gurnee and is now the Esper A. Petersen Park. Petersen was a businessman who helped donate the property.