There is much spectral intrigue about a castle that sits in Ohio.
The village of Loveland, Ohio sits just north of Cincinnati and is about a 15 minute-drive from the neighboring Kings Island amusement park.
On the town’s outskirts, on the banks of the Little Miami River, you’ll discover Chateau Laroche – aka the Loveland Castle. A stone-keep castle complete with 36-foot-high lookout towers, resplendent gardens, and a creepy dungeon, Chateau Laroche is a quirky-but-remarkable edifice that was hand-built by a hard-working and eccentric gentleman named Harry Andrews – whose spirit reportedly still resides there.
A graduate of Colgate University in New York, Andrews served as an Army nurse during WWI. Following the war, he found himself stationed in Europe, and while there attended Toulouse University in France. He studied medieval architecture – a natural complement to his earlier studies of Greek and Roman architecture at Colgate.
Andrews eventually settled in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area upon returning stateside, and in the late 1920s he purchased a few small parcels of land along the Little Miami River to provide his Sunday School students with a place to fish, swim, and camp. During outings, he regaled students with stories about King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, ultimately deciding to form his own band of do-gooders. He dubbed them the Knights of the Golden Trail (KGT), and instructed his youthful followers to not only follow the Ten Commandments but also to “save civilization.”
Of course, the newly formed band of knights needed a place to bivouac, setting the stage for Andrews’ castle. He initially built two small shelters made of stones, and from this the idea for a full castle took shape – likely influenced by castles he had observed first-hand while in Europe, as well as his studies.
Over the next 20 or so years, he began constructing his castle. The structure’s exterior walls were built using rocks Andrews carried, pail by pail, from the Little Miami or a nearby gorge, then mortared in place. For the interior walls, he utilized bricks made by pouring concrete into quart-size milk-carton forms. Andrews did most of the work himself, although according to legend his knights and visitors also helped whenever possible. The Great Depression and World War II stalled his efforts somewhat, but he kept at it, adding to the work as time permitted from his fulltime job and Sunday school teaching.
In the mid-1950s, however, two events transpired that would allow progress on the castle to move along more quickly: Andrews retired from his fulltime job (as well as his Sunday school teaching), and he then moved into what he had built of the castle to that point. Now living 24/7 within its rocky walls, he could dedicate the rest of his life to building the castle of his dreams.
By 1980, Andrews had completed much of his castle. He had hauled nearly 60,000 pailfuls of stones up from the river, he estimated and had utilized more than 2,500 sacks of cement in building the castle– comprising about 22,000 man-hours in all.
Here are just a few of the many intriguing features that Andrews integrated into Chateau Laroche (and you can still see today):
And although Harry built no moat around Chateau LaRoche, it was surrounded on one side by the Little Miami River and a steep hill on the other. So isolated was the castle that, in the early days, there was no access road and materials had to be sledded down from the overlooking hilltop. Later, Harry teamed up with his neighbors to build the steep, winding road that now allows access to the castle.
Despite all the castle’s inherent “security features,” however, Harry still had to battle an array of castle foes throughout the years. Would-be troublemakers made numerous attempts to batter down the castle doors, rob him (some successful, some not), and set fires; money was regularly stolen from his donation box (and the box itself was once pilfered). One night, some ruffians even managed to break into the castle and beat Harry, resulting in a broken leg.
Because of occurrences like these, Harry began carrying a loaded handgun for security – which ultimately led to his death.
On March 31, 1981, Harry climbed the stairs to his castle roof, where he kept a barrel for burning trash. On that terrible day, while burning his garbage, Harry accidentally set his polyester pants on fire. And because he was so concerned with removing the loaded gun from his pocket, he was severely burned.
Although he was rushed to a nearby hospital, gangrene took over both his legs. Harry refused amputation – because he didn’t want to be a cripple -- and died of gangrene 16 days later. He was 91 years-old. His remains were then scattered on the Castle grounds.
But that wasn’t the end of Harry – or so say the Knights of the Golden Trail. He had bequeathed Chateau LaRoche and its land to the Knights and, over the years, more than 100 young men joined the society. This band of caretakers now continues to add to Harry’s mysterious castle vision.
In touring Chateau LaRoche, you’ll encounter myriad sights, curiosities, and mysteries throughout the castle’s 19 rooms and its 13-acre grounds.
One room in particular, however, stands out: Visible but gated off from the public, sits Harry’s former personal office -- much as he left it, with his typewriter, coffee cup, and a newspaper dated 1981 scattered about the old desk. If you pause there for a while, you can almost feel Harry look up from the desk and invite you in, where he’ll regale you with tales of knighthood and honor.
The first ghost stories that have been reported involve by Harry Andrews himself, before his actual death. He reported that strange things would often happen in the castle at all hours of the day. He said that many times visitors would be in the castle and when they were misbehaving they would get alarmed with a slight electric shock. Andrews claimed it was the ghost who took residence in the castle and he wanted to be sure all the visitors were kept in line.
There were other experiences that Andrews could not explain. Usually occurring after midnight, when the castle was left in the dark. He claimed that he would hear footsteps roaming the hallways from time to time and see shadows that had no reason for being there.
Strangely, at times, he would hear someone knocking loudly or ringing the doorbell at the front door. When he checked for this late visitor, no one would be there. Once he heard the knock in the middle of the night and again assumed that it was a prankster. It had just recently snowed, so there was a fresh layer of snow that completed covered the castle grounds. Because of this, Andrews figured that this was his chance to find out once and for all whether the knocking was in fact pranksters. When he opened the door, expecting to see footsteps on the snow ... there were known.
Another ghost that Andrews reported prowled the castle grounds. He said that from the rook of the castle people could see a figure in a willow tree that sat adjacent to the building. At times the figure would actually start moving toward the castles, startling the spectators. From this perspective, the details were revealed an egg-shaped figure with two glowing eyes that would look up at the visitors on the roof.
After Andrew's death, supernatural presence only increased. Many witnesses have reported seeing ghosts on the castle grounds. Once a volunteer at the castle was doing maintenance on the building with another volunteer. As they were working, they heard the door to the bathroom slam shut. Thining there was a trespasser, they rushed up to the area. After an exhaustive search, no one was ever found. This repeated several times in days ahead. Seeing a pattern they checked the bathroom door for any structural issues that would prompt this, attempting to recreate the event. With this thorough inspection, upon checking the pipes that led into the bathroom, they found the septic tank was about to overflow. They were able to fix the problem before the disaster would occur. Was the ghost of the house slamming the door in the hopes of pointing out the issue? Many believe it was actually Sir Harry.
The Knights believe that Harry Andrews' ghost still resides within the castle. Objects often go missing or get moved, they say, and they occasionally hear voices or see a figure. The Knights have described the ghost as a playful, not malicious spirit, one who likes to play tricks on the Knights by hiding their possessions and so forth. There are multitudes of additional stories that certainly confirm the mystical presence this magical property holds between its walls and grounds.
The castle grounds.
This is certainly a gem to visit and affordable tours are offered. They will even offer paranormal investigation night sessions, divulging some of the most incredible evidence of a castle built on love and loyalty to its mission.
Every year, about 30,000 visitors tour Chateau LaRoche and the castle gardens. In addition to offering standard visits, the castle also books paranormal investigations (reservations required via its website, Lovelandcastle.com). Hours are 11 a.m. till 5 p.m., every day, April through September (weekends only, October through March). The admittance fee is just $5, and the castle tour is self-guided. Note: The drive down Mulberry Road to the castle’s front door is not for the faint of heart.
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