Amazing Places

Loveland Castle Is a Medieval Structure Outside Cincinnati With a Very Weird History

There's something really appealing about castles. Who wouldn't want to live in a luxurious estate — especially one that suggests that you're a member of the nobility? Of course, that's not the only reason you'd want to build a castle. Just ask Harry Andrews. He built Chateau Laroche because his principles demanded it.

Related: Another Midwestern Castle

Medieval-Doers Beware

Harry Delos Andrews was born in 1890. That's a long time ago, sure, but hardly a time of castle sieges and medieval chivalry. But when he was drafted and served in the military during World War I, he did so as a medic because of his moral objections. It wasn't violence that he objected to; it was the fact that that violence wasn't being carried out with greatswords and battleaxes.

It wasn't just the rifles and tanks that Andrews disliked. He seemed to have a lot of disdain for the modern world altogether. He was engaged to be married when he went off to war, but after contracting meningitis, he was declared dead. Six months later, the doctors conceded that he was not, in fact, dead — but by that time, his fiancée had already moved on. If the rest of his life was any indication, Andrews didn't seem to mind much. According to multiple accounts, he avoided women altogether from that point on.

"Nothing that God ever made on the earth is more awe inspiring and heart warming than the sight of a noble youth just budding into manhood," Andrews once wrote. He was most fascinated with the masculinity of medieval knighthood. Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that he volunteered to lead a local Boy Scout troop in his hometown of Loveland, Ohio, or that he would rename that troop with a suitably grandiose epithet: the Knights of the Golden Trail.

In the 1920s, the Cincinnati Enquirer had a promotion that boggles the mind today: pay for a year's subscription ahead of time, and they'd set you up with a small plot of land on the banks of the Little Miami River. Two of the Knights' parents jumped at the offer and donated their winnings to the troop for use as a campsite. A few tents and a campfire wasn't enough for Andrews, of course. He vowed to his boys that one day, he'd build a castle on that land. You already know where this is going.

Castle Mania

Andrews started the project in 1929, and he was still working on it some 52 years later. No wonder — he didn't have any help. You might have expected that those noble knights would help out, but by his own account, Andrews carried all 2,600 sacks of cement, 32,000 quart-size milk cartons for concrete bricks, 54,000 five-gallon buckets of dirt, and 56,000 pailfuls of stone on his lonesome. He was still working on it into his 90s.

As you might expect from such an eccentric personality, Andrews only got stranger as the years went by. You might even say he was paranoid. By the late '70s and '80s, he'd swallowed his distaste for firearms and taken to carrying a gun wherever he went. And in 1981, at age 91, he was burning garbage on the roof when the leg of his pants caught fire. Unfortunately, he was so preoccupied with getting out his weapon that he suffered mortal injuries from the fire and died soon after.

Today, you can still visit the castle and still find Knights of the Golden Trail standing guard over it. You'll also find shades of Andrews' distaste of women throughout. The only reference to women in the castle's plaques and guidebooks mentions a tiny room in the tallest tower: "In old castles such a room was used to imprison women." Fortunately, anyone is welcome these days, regardless of nobility or gender.

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Stephen Biesty's "Cross-Sections" books immediately immerse a child in a place they've never seen, and that's especially true for "Cross-section Castle." We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Reuben Westmaas December 3, 2018

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