ST. CHARLES, Ill. - For decades, it was the entertainment center of the western suburbs.
But a weekend fire ravaged the Pheasant Run resort complex in St. Charles, which had been empty since closing two years ago. It’s also raised questions about the future of the site and the cause of the fire.
On Monday, fire crews remained on the scene putting out hotspots more than 48 hours after the historic resort complex went up in flames.
St. Charles Fire Chief Scott Swanson said there’s no evidence, yet, that the fire was intentionally set.
"But it was quite a big fire for the middle of the day on the weekend," Swanson said. "A lot of people driving by and stuff, so the extent of the fire on getting called in was – I don’t want to say suspicious, but was curious."
Opened in 1963, Pheasant Run entertained generations of west suburban residents with a golf course, restaurants, a theater, Bourbon Street shops and a huge indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool.
Pretty much everyone you talk to around the area has a story.
"Many plays, many dinners, brunches," remembers Mary Lynn Yarter of St. Charles. "Yeah, just a great place, lots of memories."
"We got married there," said St. Charles resident Mike Shortall. "That was where we spent our first night together before we took off on our honeymoon. It was an iconic place."
The golf course has already been sold to an Arizona developer, which plans to put an industrial park on the site. But the eight-acre resort complex is still privately owned, although has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic.
The fire means any chance of salvaging the resort is likely up in smoke.
"I think there’s always hope," said St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek. "That was such a great place with great memories, especially for my family too. But we hope it can become something that betters the city."
St. Charles police and fire, along with ATF and the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s office, will continue to investigate the cause of the fire.
"It’s just sad when something – it’s bad enough when it's abandoned. But then to see it go up in smoke, it's just very heartbreaking. And I feel like all St. Charles residents felt that Pheasant Run was such an icon for our city," said Yarter.