Medieval Ohio and
The Loveland Castle
Our first glimpse of Ohio’s Medieval castle came quite unexpectedly. Our family was canoeing along the Little Miami River near Cincinnati. We pulled up on a sandbar to take a break and go for a quick walk along the wood line.
The kids yelled, “Look, a castle!”
After a few, Ya-ya, whatevers, the seriousness in their voices made my wife and I curious enough to go have a look-see for ourselves. And there it was – a Medieval castle … in Ohio! Loveland, Ohio to be exact.
Harry D. Andrews had a vision, ambition, cement, and plenty of rocks. So, he built a castle by hand. The first stone was dragged from the river and laid in 1927. He knighted friends and volunteers to pitch in. They finished a half century later. Ever since, it’s been a marvel for anyone to come and explore. Andrews was the king of his castle, taking up residence there, until he passed away in 1981 at 91 years old. But the Knights of the Golden Trail (KOGT) kept it open for all to enjoy.
Welcome to The Historic Loveland Castle & Museum Chateau Laroche.
Upon approach from the river, presumably the best point of attack considering the steep hillsides that protect the castle from being invaded on its other three fronts, the castle looms larger than life sitting in its elevated perch. No doubt Andrews knew how to fortify it. His knowledge came from touring castles in Europe after the “War to End All Wars.” The outer wall facing the river has as many stones cemented in place as the castle itself. There will be no storming of this fortress. Thanks to Andrews and the KOGT, nobody needs to siege it. They can just buy a ticket and go in.
Visitors drive down a steep road, too steep for buses, to a parking lot next to the castle. Walk past the stockade and across the main courtyard to the side entrance. There, the knight on duty will greet you and most likely tell you fascinating tales about the castle, including its well documented hauntings. Just ask him a question to get him rolling.
One of the little rooms adjacent is a time capsule of Andrews’ memorabilia. His spectacles balance atop an old Royal typewriter. His college degree and antique camera are on a wooden desk aging like fine wine. A coat of arms and banner with KOGT hang from the wall. Jail cell bars keep it preserved.
Another room adjacent but at the far side of the entryway is also for looking into only. It features a sword laid across a wooden table. There are black and white photographs showing Andrews and his KOGT joyously and laboriously building a dream over 50 years.
Be sure to take in the stonework in every grand room, stairwell, nook and cranny of the place. And imagine the hands that laid each so very carefully to be this pillar of strength in construction standing the test of time.
Now it’s time to ascend into the upper stories of the castle. A narrow, winding staircase with 360 degrees of stone everywhere you look opens to the rest of the castle. Knights in armor, chain link, and robes are on display throughout. Some hold swords, others a spiked metal ball at the end of a chain.
Exploring the corridors and rooms will bring sights of ceilings that are domed and hand tiled, stoop doors, and murder holes. The rounded room where the knights meet is particularly cool. The wooden chairs, long narrow windows, and red-cased swords hanging between each makes the Medieval experience sink in.
Then there’s the balcony view overlooking the front wall, dry mote and grassy hillside down to the tree line and river. Take it all in. And then let out a hearty, “I’m the king (or queen) of the world!”
Outside is just as royally splendid. At one point, you are sort of inside the castle but outside at the same time. A series of passage arches made in stone, a stone walkway, and walls of stone highlighted by colorful plants have an open ceiling to the sky above. Find a bench and meditate. It’s that gorgeous and unusually quiet. It leads to a terraced garden cascading down the hillside with rows of marvelous stonework and colorful plants. Indeed, some of the knights have green thumbs.
It’s a place where Scout groups get to sleep under the stars and brides get a royal wedding. Whether it’s a special occasion or any day of the week, there’s magic in the air at The Loveland Castle.
At the end of the daydream, it’s a time and place that’s both real and surreal. And it stands clear that the caretakers of this palace have every ounce of passion for it as Andrews.
By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun!