The Chateau Laroche (Rock Castle), the Loveland Castle, is not the only castle in Ohio. Some are private residences, others are being used as hotels and special theme destinations, but the Chateau Laroche is a bit different in concept.
Harry D Andrews, a Sunday School teacher in the mid 1920’s often took his class of boys out to his property near the river so they could camp, fish and swim. He first housed the boys in tents until a few years of weather exposure destroyed the tents. Mr. Andrews asked the boys to gather stones from the river bed so he could build them a stone tent. This they did and those original two rooms of stones are now part of the bottoms of the present towers of the Chateau Laroche, the Loveland Castle.
Mr. Andrews Retires
After nearly thirty years as a boys Sunday School teacher, Mr. Andrews retired to spend more time on completing his castle project. By 1955 he also had retired from Standard Publishing Foundation. Now he was free to concentrate full time on his special lifelong dream – completing the castle.
As Mr. Andrews continued his unusual hobby and the castle took shape, thousands of sightseers began visiting. As they came, he would stop work to show them around and share his passion. By the end of 1980, there is a record of his having entertained 50,531 visitors. Of course with this many interruptions, the progress on the castle slowed.
He completed a small room, the Dome Room, and created a primitive sleeping/living area. There were no amenities in the castle, but he was able to “camp” and continue working. Winters proved most difficult as he had to hand cut all his firewood for his fireplace.
What Did Mr. Andrews Envision for The Castle?
With Mr. Andrews being a Sunday School teacher, he recognized that the boys he was teaching were the future of manhood. He had a hope that by reintroducing the high standards of Knighthood; honor, valor, and manly purity, he could somehow lift mankind out of moral decay that had occurred during the dark ages.
While in the Sword Room you will be able to watch a brief video about Mr. Andrews and the building of the castle.
When visitors came to the Castle, they would often bring Mr. Andrews a stone from their home country. He worked these stones into the walls of one of the rooms as a keepsake memory of their visits.
A small pamphlet in the gift shop had these words: ” Nothing that God ever made on earth is more awe inspiring and heartwarming than the sight of a noble youth just budding into manhood, clean minded, honest, honorable, gentle, living in God’s image, and conscious of God own approval…”
Mr. Andrews vision to work with young men and raise a standard of nobility is inspiring. Walking through the castle and realizing that he physically built this castle with his own two hands (almost 99% alone) is beyond comprehending. I discovered that I was daydreaming about the whole idea of nobility and knighthood, and then my mind began to wander along different paths.
Letters written by the apostle Paul in approximately 58-65 AD are admonishments to a young man named Timothy. Paul recognized in this youth a regard for the holy scriptures as taught to him by his mother and his grandmother from earliest childhood. Paul states, “[Timothy], Let no man despise thy youth but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity”(I Timothy 4:12). Paul seemed to be a mentor of young Timothy. He had a heart and a hope for this lad to stand strong and courageous in his faith and to attain the nobility of manhood. “O, Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust…” (I Timothy 6:20a).
When I graduated from high school my parents presented me with a new Bible to take with me to college. In the front of that Bible my mom wrote these words, “[O Ritchie], keep that which is committed to thy trust…” I suppose if Paul had been writing a letter to me, he would have said he had seen me instructed by my mother and grandmother also.
Much is written about the Castle of Loveland, and about the person, Mr. Andrews. We read about the task of his hauling all those rocks up the banks (amazing), and about the years it took to complete the task. We learn that he was a bit eccentric (building a castle in Ohio?), and about the structural ingenuity of his castle. Lesser known is the heart beat of the man who wanted to raise a new generation of young men to follow in the ways of God – men who would put on the whole armor of God.
I would guess that he hoped each of his Knights would walk the Golden Trail and mentor the next generation to follow the ways they had been taught. In some vague manner, I was reminded of Paul teaching young Timothy, of my parents teaching me, and of the countless lives changed when each one teaches one to teach one.
Glen Eyrie Castle
My husband and I have been invited to volunteer as castle hosts at Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs, Colorado in a few months. It is the home base of Navigators International. Much like the vision of Mr. Andrews, Navigators, under the direction of the founder Dawson Trotman, sought to reach young men with the transforming grace of Jesus through Bible study and scripture memory. He was a visionary in understanding that the power of God’s Word could and would change lives for eternity. His philosophy was, teach one, to teach one. My dad, Roger Oldham was one of those lives that were changed. You can read about that story in Just an Ordinary Person.
The vision Mr. Andrews had for his Sunday School boys was a beginning place for fostering in their hearts a standard of living according to the laws of God. The apostle Paul calls for a standard that is beyond merely the laws, but a dedication and commitment to the person of Jesus Christ.
Castles are interesting backdrops of history, and of all sorts of mystery, intrigue, and fascination. When I travel, I’m usually on the hunt covered bridges or lighthouses. It seems that I’m going to be paying attention in my future travels for castles of America.
Have you visited a castle in Ohio? How about other castles across America? I’d love to hear from you.