Sitting out along the banks of the Little Miami River north of Loveland, Ohio, in the United States, is a curious sight. Here there improbably sits a large, somewhat menacing castle like something from a fairy tale. Walking past its turreted walls one might begin to think one is in ancient Europe rather than Ohio, and it is all rather jarring yet somewhat enamoring at the same time. Now a museum, the grand structure has a rather oddball history, and true to its gothic appearance it is certainly home to its share of ghosts.
The sprawling castle was the brainchild of the World War I veteran and medievalist Harry D. Andrews. Born in 1890, Andrews had always been fascinated by knights and medieval history, and when he was drafted into service during World War I in 1918 he continued these studies. He was stationed in France, and he found it distasteful how the enemies would wail on each other at a distance rather than engaging in more traditional face to face combat like in the old days. At the time he was considered a bit of a genius, with a 189 IQ and able to speak 7 different languages, but this meant little to the churning war machine he was then a part of. He served mostly as a nurse during the war, and during this time he had some memorable experiences, once falling ill with spinal meningitis, bedridden and to the point that he was pronounced dead and actually put into a mortuary, where he remained for two days before it was realized that he was in fact still alive and he was revived with a shot of adrenaline to the heart.
At the time, meningitis was considered pretty serious business, indeed having taken the lives of around 7,000 of Andrews’ fellow soldiers, and it was thought that he would not live for more than a few more days or even through the night. He would defy those odds, making a full recovery and gaining a knighthood after saving the life of an English nobleman’s son, and he went on to teach Allied forces French and study architecture in his free time. He would also fall into depression when he learned that his fiancé had met another man after believing him to be dead, and that was when he fully devoted himself to studying medieval knight culture, which would become an obsession for him.
Upon his return to the United States, this obsession with all things medieval continued, and he would form a boy scout troop he called “The Knights of the Golden Trail,” which he taught to protect and uphold the virtues of nobility and civility in the modern age, always adhering to the ten commandments. In 1929, Andrews began work on constructing an actual full-blown castle as a base for his troop, which he was to call Château Laroche. He quarried his own stone from the nearby Little Miami River, and at first it was just a hobby. After he retired in 1955 it became a full-time endeavor, totally consuming his life for the next several decades, with the structure exhibiting a great hall, a banquet hall, an armory, a watchtower, and a real dungeon, all largely built by hand. As soon as his ambitious castle was operational enough to live in, Andrews moved in and never looked back. He would say of the castle’s construction:
Chateau Laroche was built as an expression and reminder of the simple strength and rugged grandeur of the mighty men who lived when Knighthood was in flower. It was their knightly zeal for honor, valor and manly purity that lifted mankind out of the moral midnight of the dark ages, and started it towards a gray dawn of human hope.
At the time, Andrews would start spinning yarns about strange paranormal experiences he had had there in those cold, stone walls. He would tell his scouts about the ghost of a Norman knight that would come to his door after dark, and explained to them that there was another presence that would roam about moving objects and flinging them from their stands, as well as the spirits of two children he claimed had died in a previous fire at that location, and the ghost of a woman who had died in a moonshine still explosion at a cavern just down from the site. He also told of an egg-shaped spirit with glowing red eyes that lived in the branches of a nearby willow tree, and all of this both enthralled and terrified his young followers. Andrews was by all accounts stirring up stories of paranormal activity at the castle for some time, but it was after his death that things would really pick up.
In 1981, at the age of 91 years old, Andrews was caught up in a trash fire that got out of control and later succumbed to the serious burns he had incurred, and from there would be numerous sightings of strange apparitions at the now abandoned castle. One of the most prominent of the reported entities ere is the spirit of Andrews himself, who appears as a large shadow figure that likes to slam doors and swing hanging lamps, as well as to type out messages on an old typewriter kept on the premises. There is also the apparition of a young woman, thought to be the one who Andrews claimed had died in the explosion, who wanders about the castle and also has been seen lurking about the nearby river. Adding to the ranks is the specter of what appears to be a Viking, who wears a long dark cloak, a spiked helmet, and carries a short, wide sword across his chest. It is unknown who this could possibly be.
At present, what is now often known as the Loveland Castle is owned and operated by Andrews’ own Knights of the Golden Trail, who maintain it, run the museum, and open the castle to curious visitors for tours. Visitors still report various paranormal activity from here, including moving or missing objects, shadow figures, and much more. Is this place haunted by the past, and if so why should that be? What has drawn these forces to it and why? The answers to these questions are not clear, and in the meantime the Loveland Castle still stands, inviting debate, discussion, and wonder.