If you find yourself driving up the I-94 towards the Illinois-Wisconsin border, you will feel that you have lost your mind and landed straight in the middle of a full-blown mirage around the halfway point. Looking to the right, you will catch sight of an image directly out of the Nile River Valley and the ancient land of pharaohs, and not of the nearby Fox River Valley, or whatever other slow, meandering rivers flow through the flat, forested landscape of Northern Illinois. Emerging from the dense forestry off into the distance, you will discover a golden pyramid, along with a giant statute of Ramesses II, but this is no hallucination. And it is most certainly a bizarre roadside attraction.
Built by Jim and Linda Onan in 1977, they were inspired by a University of Wisconsin study suggesting that pyramids generate energy. This is based on a generally wacky seventies cult theory regarding “pyramid power.” Mr. Onan had a long-standing interest in all things Egyptology, and intrigued by the mysteries surrounding the supernatural powers associated with pyramids, the Onans built their home as such. Prior to earning their fortune in the garage-building business, the Onans satisfied their pyramid yearnings by merely placing a cardboard pyramid in their dining room. Once finances allowed, they made themselves a more lavish pyramid, this time a replica of the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. The Onans use five particular words to describe their unique home: power, gold, mystery, exotic, and impressive. But they should have probably decided on either verbs or nouns when describing their home, and not both, because their brief and odd description of their strange home makes them sound a bit like illiterate crazies.
The golden pyramid house of Wadsworth, Illinois is presently a private residence inhabited by the Onans; however, from 1978 to 1981, the place was open to paying visitors and even had a gift shop on site. Despite their current desire for privacy, this ridiculous structure is crying out to be photographed. This can be accomplished by simply pulling up to the iron gates surrounding the property and snapping a couple of pictures to the chagrin of the home’s owners. Please keep in mind that unwanted visitors have been chased by dogs while venturing within the property in the past, but curious travelers can get a great view of the house by peering through the locked gate off of Dilleys Road.
The exterior is obviously designed to look exactly like an ancient Egyptian pyramid. The gold pyramid house stands 6 stories tall. The 17,000 square-foot roof is made up entirely of stainless steel plates electroplated with gold. It is generally thought to be the largest 24 karat gold plated object ever created. The home also contains a triple-pyramid topped three-car garage, a 64 foot-tall and 200-ton statute of Ramesses II, a metal palm tree, and a driveway lined with 80 stone sphinxes. In fact, the replica statute of Ramesses II in Wadsworth, Illinois is larger than the original in Egypt. You may also notice that the home site is situated on a natural spring, and the water from the spring is so pure that Jim Onan is allowed to bottle and sell it, reportedly. Water also forms a moat that encircles the entire structure. This moat is 20 feet deep and spring-lake fed. Therefore, the pyramid technically resides on an island, and you need to pass over a causeway to access the home. Last but not least, there is a burial mound recreating the tomb of King Tutankhamun on the property.
You cannot presently go inside the home, except on special occasions when tours are offered to the public. However, the walls are adorned with hand-painted hieroglyphs. The basement, originally meant to house a swimming pool until water table problems interfered, is now the theater where Onan greets entering tour groups. The particular contents and design of the upper floors, which contain the bedrooms and observation room towards the “point” of the pyramid, are not clearly known. These sections of the pyramid are never open to the public. According to sources, the house’s interior has a modern colonial and country décor, with just a few Egyptian statutes littering the sitting areas.
There are also several myths regarding the gold pyramid house, including the suggestion that the underground spring water simply and suddenly bubbled up out of nowhere at the center of the pyramid one day. Moreover, in 1986, story goes that hordes of black birds started attacking those utilizing the north entrance to the pyramid’s “Chariot Room.” And according to legend, black birds also protected the north entrance to the real tomb of King Tutankhamen. Freaky, huh? Also, those with a strong belief in the ancient powers of pyramidology claim to have often felt powerful energy at the north wall of the home, and also in the middle of the meeting room, which happens to reside directly above the source of the spring.
Notably, Linda Onan now runs her own online Egyptian gift shop. Jim Onan also sells Pharaoh’s Gold II on this site, which he brews himself. This beer claims to use a recipe that is over 4,000 years old, and was originally discovered while analyzing dried sediment found in the ante-chamber of an ancient temple. And in 1993, the Onans offered their gold pyramid home as a means to help pay down the national deficit, basically offering the federal government use of their home for tours to earn substantial money, much like the Hearst Castle is utilized in California.
The Gold Pyramid House is located at 37921 Dilleys Road in Wadsworth, Illinois.
About Dana Bashor
Dana Bashor is the founder and owner of Dana Bashor Consulting Services. Dana Bashor consults for small-to-medium sized businesses and provides management tools and tips on her website. On her free time Dana Bashor loves to freelance on different topics and provide consumer alerts for sites like planet antares scam alerts.