while serving as a doctor in the first world war, sir harry andrews contracted spinal meningitis. Paralyzed, blind and unable to speak, Andrews was pronounced dead and sent to the morgue. according to fred russell, a member of the brotherhood of knights of the golden path (kogt), later founded by andrews, doctors began performing an autopsy. They stopped when Andrews’s mouth began to bleed. “Dead men don’t bleed,” says Russell. Andrews was given adrenaline, an experimental drug at the time, and his heart began to beat irregularly. he was not expected to survive more than a few days, but he lived another 63 years.
In addition to being a doctor, “Andrews was a Sunday school teacher, preacher, teacher, author, poet, publicist, notary, typographer, proofreader and publisher,” says Russell. He “could write, read and speak seven languages fluently and had several different titles.” But Andrews’ enduring claim to fame is the castle he built and worked on nearly every day for 52 years, from 1929 to 1981, when he died (for real this time) at the age of 91.
Andrews’ medieval masterpiece, the historic Loveland Castle and Museum (also known as Château Laroche, French for “rock castle”), sits on the banks of the Little Miami River, about 25 miles northeast of Cincinnati , oh In the 1920s, the Cincinnati Researcher offered land along the river to anyone who paid a year’s subscription in advance; Andrews purchased 11 lots and built his castle from native river rock and concrete bricks molded from milk cartons. When Andrews died, he left his life’s work to the Knights of the Golden Path, whose members still maintain the castle.
triple door and rigged staircase
on a gray and wet late winter saturday i am one of the few visitors to loveland castle. signs guide me up a steep, winding road with several hairpin bends; Turns out the narrow road was also built by Andrews and still can’t accommodate buses.
When the walled castle comes into view, I’m tempted to say it looks out of place (Southern Ohio isn’t known for its medieval architecture), but the imposing structure somehow fits the bill. isolated from the surrounding residential neighborhood, the castle is located on the sloping, heavily wooded riverbank. if I ignore the portable toilets and modern cars in the parking lot, it’s surprisingly easy to waste my time.
As my eyes adjust to the dark interior of the castle, I see Russell behind the counter. Surprisingly, he is not wearing armor, but rather jeans and a sweatshirt. He welcomes me to the castle “built by hand by one man” and explains that Andrews was “one of the world’s authorities on medieval architecture and castles”. Andrews studied in New York at Colgate University and in France at the University of Toulouse; She modeled her second-floor ballroom after one at France’s Château de la Roche. a German game room on the first floor includes chess, checkers, and various puzzles.
Loveland Castle has everything you’d expect from a working fortress, including a dungeon, dry moat, bell tower, and English battle platform. A second-floor balcony offers a lovely view of the terraced gardens, where Andrews grew fruits and vegetables year-round in seedbeds, heated by railroad lanterns, designed by himself. the narrow windows ensure that knights under attack can fire arrows outwards, while also making it difficult for incoming attacks to reach their intended targets.
The front door is three layers thick and made of 238 pieces of wood assembled with 2,530 nails. it’s actually three doors in one: the upper half opens separately, and the lower half contains a pedestrian door, a smaller door used as another line of defense. “If you’re a full-size adult, you have to duck and head in,” Russell says. “if you have a weapon in your hand, you have to extend it, which renders it useless.”
one set of trick stairs leads to the second floor and another to the dungeon. The narrow, winding stairs are “made to be uncomfortable and really easy to defend for one person,” says Russell. “You can’t shoot an arrow or a sword fight at them and the step heights are all different. makes you look at your feet. even though you were born with them at the bottom of your legs, you will lose your feet if you don’t pay attention to them on these stairs.”
knights of the golden wake
Authorities took time to inform Andrews’ family and friends that he was not dead, as they had previously thought. So long, in fact, that Andrews’ fiancé had already married another man. After this, according to the Kgot, Andrews “walked away from women, period” and despite receiving more than “50 marriage proposals later in life, he turned them all down.”
andrews, who retired from cincinnati standard publishing house, met regularly with a group of local kids for sunday school and boy scout activities. The group called themselves the Knights of the Golden Path. When they wore out two old army tents, Andrews told them, “If you gather stones for me, I’ll build you two tents.” When the tents began to resemble towers, Andrews decided that his group of “knights” deserved a proper castle.
Nearly a century after its founding, more than 300 people have been knighted and today there are still around 50 active kgot members. The “Golden Trail” refers to the Ten Commandments, but Russell says, “Anyone can come and join our organization, you just have to get out there and work around the castle.” pages and squires become knights when they are old enough, and prospective members must be patronized by an existing member or raised as a knight by a family member. “Harry wanted us to continue working on the castle, so she taught us how to work on the castle,” says Russell. “Family is not just blood.”
kgot members are stewards not only of the castle, the organization’s world headquarters, but also of the surrounding land and waterways. According to their website, “The Gentlemen refuse to be part of the pollution that occurs in the Little Miami River. they’ve been green for a long time before it was “cool” to be green.”
Andrews, the subject of the 1979 PBS documentary Castle Man, was by all accounts a selfless, hardworking and humble man. at one point he was the oldest living notary public in the state of ohio, never charging more than a quarter for his services. Supposedly he had an IQ of 189 (“genius” starts at 160), he published a book on immigration to the US. uu. government, and offered his castle to the producers of one Robin Hood movie and four Frankenstein movies for free. When asked by the investigator if he built the castle as a monument to himself, Andrews replied, “No, it’s just a calling [a hobby]. I won’t be buried under it.
In March 1981, Andrews was trying to put out a rubbish fire that had started on the castle grounds when he was severely burned. he died of his injuries a few days later and his body was cremated. a year before his death, he told the investigator that he “calculated that he had six or seven years of work in the castle wing” and that he had plans to add an apartment, an exhibition hall and a chapel. Today, the castle is available to rent for small weddings, Boy Scout sleepovers, school tours, and paranormal investigations.
Castle Man, which plays on a loop in one of the castle’s outdoor alcoves, shows Andrews hard at work shaping bricks from milk cartons; he made nearly 33,000 over the years. initially he worked from blueprints, but when they disappeared he continued to build from memory. “The [medieval] knights did it, I don’t know why modern knights can’t,” Andrews said. “Sometimes I don’t feel like it, but I work just the same.”
if you go
The Historic Loveland Castle and Museum is open daily between April 1 and September 30, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. m. to 5:00 p.m. m. between October 1 and March 31 it is open on Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting. For more information on Ohio’s castles, visit ohio.org.