Sir Harry Andrews lived from 1890-1981. Sir Harry was an Army nurse during WWI. After his time serving in the field hospital during the war, Harry Andrews returned to the Cincinnati, Ohio area.
A couple of years ago I was in the Cincinnati area with my friend Bethany (who grew up there,) and I commented that one of the buildings we passed sort of looked like a castle. She laughed and told me it was a water treatment plant. Then she asked me if I had ever been to the "real castle" in Cincinnati.
I had not, but when we were planning a weekend trip to Cincinnati this past Spring, I remembered what she had said and asked her for more information. We are so glad I did! Thanks for the suggestion, it was awesome!
Chateau Laroche, also known as the Loveland Castle, was built by Sir Harry Andrews from about 1930 until his death in 1981. Harry spent his time after WWI investing in the lives of the boys of his Sunday School class, which also became his Boy Scout troop. The troop frequently camped on the bank of the Little Miami River where the parents of a couple of the boys had some land. Wanting something weather worthy to keep their gear, Harry built two stone tents. Then the parents donated the land they had been camping on and Sir Harry and the boys began spending more time there. Harry had formed the Scout Troop as the "Knights of the Golden Trail" (KOGT) in 1927, and by 1930 had decided his knights needed a castle.
One stone at a time Harry built the initial part of the castle, and often put the boys to work helping as they watched because they wanted to spend more time with him. Working as a team, over several years, the castle grew to become a place where Harry lived, and the boys frequently visited. Harry Andrews never married (his fiancé had married someone else while Harry was overseas in the war,) and so he invested heavily in the lives of his "knights." You can learn a lot of the history of Loveland castle on their website: www.lovelandcastle.com but you really need to visit!!! During his lifetime, Sir Harry Andrews funded the college education of over 40 of the Knights from KOGT. Their only rules were the Ten Commandments, which are displayed on a wall in the castle's chapel.
Harry had been a nurse during WWI because he objected to the killing from a far of the guns of then-modern warfare. Serving as a nurse allowed him to help his countrymen, without being called upon to kill anyone. The KOGT was designed to inspire the boys to live lives of honor, valor, and purity hearkening back to the traits of knighthood as Europe emerged from the Middle Ages. Harry wanted better for these boys than what he had to endure during the war.
Loveland Castle has elements of French, German, and English castle architecture. Words really cannot describe it well enough, you simply need to go see it! I've tried to give you a preview through the pictures below. Castle doors, archer shaped windows, a dry moat, a secret stairway, and of course a few suits of armor can all be found in Sir Harry's castle. When Sir Harry died he willed the castle and the grounds to the KOGT who were no longer boys, but an assortment of men, who continued the building by finishing the ceiling in the final wing after his death. Because Harry had been knighted, he was able to knight others who lived by the high ideals of the Ten Commandments and focused on a life of serving others. These men (and one woman) still run the castle today. There is always a knight on duty when the castle is open, plus you will find other volunteers there as well. We were fortunate on the day we visited that one of the knights whom Harry had sent to school was on hand and gave us a guided tour with extra history about their group and Sir Harry's life.
There are so many cool things about the Chateau Laroche that made it a little self-sustaining estate up the hill from the banks of the river. When you visit, be sure to look for the following: Bricks made with recycled trash as filler to make the interior walls, a beehive shaped bedroom to hold the heat, hotbed frames to grow vegetables, and a hidden peephole to view the front entry door from above. Also look for The Dungeon, Sir Harry's office, the ballroom, and the kitchen! Sir Harry Andrews was an intelligent man, holding more than a dozen college degrees when he died. We were told one of his favorite things to do was to solve puzzles, like the Pentominoes and Tangrams you will find in the game room.
The Castle is open on weekends only from October-March, and seven days a week from April-September. Admission is $5 person, and $3 for children 12 and under. This gem of a find is SO worth the drive down the road that Sir Harry built. Be warned: the road is fraught with tight switchbacks as you descend, so NO BUSES, and you'll prefer having your best driver at the wheel. There is parking for 30-40 cars at the castle, but we were told that the 3rd Saturday of each summer month Chateau Laroche hosts Castle Days where medieval food and reenactments like jousting occur. Because of the popularity of Castle Days, you'll need to park at the nearby Meijer and ride the shuttle. Chateau Laroche, a.k.a. Loveland Castle is located at: 12025 Shore Drive, Loveland, Ohio.
To me, Chateau Laroche shows an excellent example of how one life, well-lived for God, can influence a whole generation of people to follow Him as well.
I hope you've enjoyed our trip to an actual castle... located in the Midwest! Who knew?! Now you do! Come back soon for another great Road Trip idea. We have lots more to share this Fall.