Recently, the Deer Creek Daisies garden club traveled to Loveland to tour Chateau Laroche, better known as the Loveland Castle.
Construction of Chateau Laroche, meaning rock castle, began on June 5, 1929 by an extraordinary man named Harry D. Andrews. Andrews, who reportedly had an IQ of 189, spoke seven different languages, was a Boy Scout leader, a World War I veteran and a medievalist, had constructed the castle single handed.
While stationed in France during WWI, Andrews was impressed by the castles of Northern France, and after completing college and returning to the states, he began building one of his own.
Chateau Laroche was built on the banks of the the Little Miami River. The land was obtained in 1927. Andrews originally wanted the land so that the young men in his Boy Scout troop (the Knights of the Golden Trail) would have a place to camp, boat, fish and swim. At first, they slept in tents, which soon wore out.
Andrews told the boys he would build them a “stone tent” if they would collect enough stones from the river banks. Those first two rooms (stone tents) he built were the beginning of the castle. Work was halted during the Depression years, but Andrews resumed construction and continued working on it until his death.
In May of 1955, Andrews retired from his job at Standard Publishing Foundation. Following retirement he moved into the castle and began to work on it full time. He continuously worked on the castle for 50 years, pulling stones from the Little Miami River and molding bricks with cement and quart milk cartons.
The walls of the chapel within the castle contain many stones Andrews collected from his world travels as well as those sent to him from friends and followers from other parts of the world. Each door on the castle has a unique design. The main door to the castle has three layers of wood studded with 2,530 nails, “in order to prevent anyone from chopping through with an axe.”
There are many displays throughout the castle including pictures of Andrews and family members, Knights of the Golden Trail members, as well as suits of armor, the Andrews family coat-of-arms, and even a realistic replica of a skull in the dungeon.
When Andrews died in 1981, at the age of 91, he willed the castle to his Boy Scout troop -The Knights of the Golden Trail. The Knights of the Golden Trail is a group that was formed to contribute to the betterment of the world. The only rules they have are to follow the Ten Commandments. Andrews was concerned that “mankind was headed for total degradation and degeneration.”
The castle has been continuously upgraded and renovated since Andrew’s death by the members of The Knights of the Golden Trail. An expansion to the gardens and a greenhouse are projects that have been recently completed. The leveled garden beds contain many varieties of plants and trees including sedum, coneflowers, hibiscus, coreopsis, lilac and Japanese maple. In addition to the plants, there are many handmade benches carved from tree trunks. A stately dragon sculpture is in the front of the castle along with huge letters K-O-G-T to add to the ambiance.
At the conclusion of the tour, the Daisies had a delicious lunch at Cocoa Bites in downtown Loveland. Prizes were won by Barbara Vance and Joyce Schlichter.
Chateau Laroche is located at 12025 Shore Road in Loveland. It is open daily during the months of April through September, and during the months of October through March it is open on weekends. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.