Ohioans You Should Know: Harry Andrews and The Loveland Castle

Along the banks of the Little Miami River, near Loveland, Ohio, you will find something that, at first, may seem slightly out of place. Quite frankly, there aren’t all that many medeival european castles in this part of the world.

And what castle wouldn’t be complete without a few myths and legends, and perhaps a ghost story or two? 

Much of what has been written recently about this castle seems to focus on the supernatural. People claim to have seen the ghost of Sir Harry, the castle’s designer and builder, who died on the property when trying to burn his trash.  Others have claimed to see a Viking, perhaps attached to one of the old ornamental swords hanging on a castle wall. Then there’s the white lady, who they say had been killed in a nearby moonshine tunnel. And some have claimed to see the spirits of the boy knights for whom this castle was built.

There are those, too, who try to claim the site had once been a native american burial site because there are always people who make that claim … and some who try to connect it with the mysterious figure known as The Loveland Frog-Man, a strange cryptid creature believed to have been seen in the area.

Not all the myths and legends associated with the castle, or it’s builder, involve ghosts. For example, they say that while he was in the army and stationed in France as a medic, he helped heal the son of a nobleman who was so impressed with Harry that he knighted him on the spot when his son was discharged. Of course, there is no historical proof of this, and that story does include a few details which might be problematic on their own. But, it’s still a nice story to tell.

With all the ghost stories, myths and legends, and all the other things people are saying about the castle, it makes me wonder where the truth actually lies.

The Legend of Harry Delos Andrews

According to the legends, everyone knew Sir Harry was a genius, even at an early age. They say he had a knack for problem solving and the ability to accomplish anything and everything he wanted to do. Harry was also a man of conviction, deeply religious and of strong moral fiber.

As a young man, they say he caught the eye of a pretty young girl and the two started dating. However, upon learning that USA was entering World War I, and feeling it was his civic duty to enlist, he did so. The problem was that Harry believed that killing was wrong, as it went against one of the Ten Commandments, so he enlisted as a nurse.

Before being shipped off to France, the Army Barracks he was stationed at was hit by a nasty viral plague – one that killed nearly every soldier stationed there. Harry himself contracted the disease and was pronounced dead by the army medics. Lucky for him, a new treatment was on the scientific horison, using adrenaline to revive the freshly departed. Harry had some measure of Adrenaline pumped into his veins, and he regained consciousness. Somehow, Harry fought his way back to health.

As Harry was being shipped off to Europe, he learned that he had been listed among the dead. He wrote to his fiance, only to get a response back that because she thought Harry had died, she was now about to marry another gentleman. This left Harry heartbroken and after this did not seek the romantic attention of any further ladies.

While he was stationed in France, the son of a nobleman became ill and was attended to by Harry. The man’s father was so enamored with Harry, so impressed by his professionalism and dedication, that he knighted Harry Andrews, so he could evermore be known as Sir Harry.

After the war, Harry stayed in France, moving from town to town and studying various forms of architecture. They say he was so enamored with European castles because so many of them were still standing after hundreds of years, and he wondered if there was a way to make houses like that back in America.

Harry finally returned home and began working for a publishing company. He also joined a church and began teaching an all-boys Sunday School class. Harry invited some of the boys on hiking trips, traveling to a space in Loveland just west of the Little Miami River. By day, they would study the bible. By night, they would tell campfire stories of knights and chivalry. 

On one trip, Harry and his boys began to build what they called a Rock Tent – a semi-permanent structure they could sleep in with walls and a ceiling. When it fell down, they would rebuild it. However, as the group began to grow, they all felt the need for a more permanent, and larger structure. 

And that was when Harry and his boys began constructing a castle. The boys adopted the name “Knights of the Golden Trail” and named the building Castle LaRouche, which they said means “Rock Tent” in French. 

In order to join, the boys would need to be voted on by the established knights, and take a solemn vow to live their life by the principles of The Ten Commandments. 

Harry continued to build the castle, adding all sorts of various features beyond the bedrooms and kitchens and meeting rooms you would expect to find in any medieval castle. They built a grand ballroom, an armory, and even a dungeon because what Castle wouldn’t have a dungeon, right?

After Harry retired from the publishing house, he moved into the castle and lived there, full-time, while he continued to build. Every day, he would walk down to the river with two pails, fill them with sandstone rocks, and then climb the hill back to continue the work. He also devises a way of making bricks by filling cardboard milk cartons with cement and letting them sit for a few days drying in the sun. To keep the bricks from getting misshapen, he made a grid out of some lumber – the wood kept the sides of the bricks from becoming uneven.

People who came to see the castle were surprised to find such an old man doing such physical labor. Sir Harry explained to them that nothing could stop him from doing what he loved doing. 

One evening, as Harry was burning some trash, he managed to burn himself. Nobody seem to know if he was stamping out some embers, or if the wind had suddenly changed direction and caught his pants on fire. Luckily, a woman was passing nearby and helped put out the fire. When she inspected Harry’s leg, he immediately wanted to rush him to the hospital. Harry refused to go, at first, because that would take him away from building the castle. Soon, he would come to his senses and agree to go. 

The damage to his leg was so severe, the doctors wanted to amputate it. Harry scoffed at this, telling the doctor that a one legged man could not build a castle. The doctor tried to treat the infection, but harry died less than a week later.

In his will, Harry left The Castle to the Knights of the Golden Trail – who still operate and run the castle today.

The Truth of Harry Delos Andrews

Harry AndrewsThe Legend of Harry Andrews certainly makes him out to be a larger-than-life character. Many of these details have been repeated time and time again, but how much is true … and how much is liar liar pants on fire? (Sorry, too soon?)

Harry Delos Andrews was born on April 5, 1890, in Oneonta, New York. His parents were named Frederick Lucius Andrews and Jennie (nee Betts.) Harry was the couple’s eldest child, followed by a sister, Myrtle May born two years later, then four brothers, Louis Frederick, Audley Chamberlain, Alfred Hess, and Wilfred Burton.

Harry would move to Hamilton, New York while he attended Colgate University. After graduating, he relocated to Tarrytown, New York where he began work as a school teacher at the Hackley School.

The Hackney School was founded in 1899, originally intended to be a Unitarian boarding school, as opposed to the Episcopal schools. It was also an all-boys school. Later in life, they would drop their Unitarian partnerships and become co-ed. Today, it is a member of the Ivy Preparatory School League.

On a side note: the movies Presumed Innocent (1990), Admission (2013), and Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) had scenes filmed on the campus.

The idea that Harry joined the Army as World War I broke out because he felt it was his civic duty might be slightly misleading. The United States joined the war in April, 1917, but Harry didn’t enlist until July 1919, nearly two years later. The part of him being a conscientious objector does hold true, though. According to his draft card (dated in 1918) Harry “…does not wish to claim exemption, but his religious beliefs would prevent him from any service which would cause destruction of human life.”

Harry would serve in the Army in France, and after his service ended, he remained in the country to study architecture. 

In 1926, Harry would be appointed to the Windsor School in the Walnut Hills area of Cincinnati. The following year, he would be listed as the school’s assistant principal. 

According to the Cincinnati Post (01 Apr 1927), it was here that the Knights of the Golden Trail first began, in March, as a part of Harry Andrews’ Hygiene class. “It was begun by the boys themselves,” the article reads, going on to imply that the boys themselves set the requirements and rules and that Harry Andrews was merely a faculty advisor.

Any boy at the school was allowed to join and members were forbidden to recruit new members. The candidate must vow to not partake in “neither tobacco, nor liquor, nor tea, nor coffee, nor unprintable words” until they turned 21. All candidates signed an official document with a picture of Sir Galahad (with an aura of light above his head) on the top, over the following pledge: “I take this Sacred Vow of Knighthood, sealed in my life’s blood, to keep myself Chaste and Pure, to refrain from any drug or thing that can defile my body, mind, or soul. This vow shall be inviolate until I am 21 years old.” Under this was the club’s motto: “Courageous, Honest, Clean and Strong/In body, Mind and Soul/Thru Boyhood’s Mystic Golden Trail/To Manhood’s Sacred Goal.” At the very bottom of the page, the candidate signed the form and then added a single drop of their own blood (from a pinprick on the finger). 

The group met in “Windsor Castle” (otherwise known as a classroom decked out in medieval decorations with a picture of Sir Galahad) and grew in popularity so quickly they were forced to adopt a waiting list within the first year. In order to expand, the group left the Windsor School and began holding meetings at the United Brethren Church. (This also opened membership up to even more candidates.)

It may also be important to note that the girls had an additional club they could join – The Ladies of the Purple Sail, run by Carrie Underwood (although probably not the one you’re thinking of.) Sadly, this group did not last nearly as long as The Knights of the Golden Trail.

One of the things the Knights were said to do was occasionally take day hikes somewhere in Loveland along the Little Miami River. 

On September 21, 1930, the group laid the cornerstone of their new headquarters, The Castle of the Knights of the Golden Trail near Loveland, a short distance from the corner of Rich and Willow Roads. The Pastor of the Walnut Hills Universalist Church gave the address, an American flag was presented by The Cincinnati Civitan Club, and members from Boy Scout Troup 34 participated with bugle and drum corps. This was attended by over 100 knights, former knights, and their families and friends.

In the years that followed, the club continued to meet in various churches, as well as the Windsor School cafeteria. Some meetings were immediately followed by a “pilgrimage” to the Castle.

It’s also important to note that The Knights of the Golden Trail, even though it formed through the school system was listed as a religious-based club. 

Census records tell us that Sir Harry worked for the schools through some point in the 1940s, after which he became employed by the Standard Publishing Company in Mt. Healthy as a writer and editor after a brief stint as a “City Employee”. Harry quit the publishing company in 1955, moving into his castle so he could spend more time building.

Castle LaRoche in the 1970s And Beyond

The Sunday Magazine of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Dec 2, 1973) featured an in-depth article on Sir Harry and Castle LaRoche. Contrary to previous evidence, the article states that Harry Andrews formed The Knights of the Golden Trail as part of a church’s Sunday School group and does not mention the Windsor School at all. 

This article also contains the earliest (at least that I could find) mention of a Castle Ghost. “The resident ghost sleeps on the first floor, the owner on the second.” 

By now, the castle has (semi-officially) been completed, but Harry’s work was never done. At that time, he was in the process of adding a wing after creating further outdoor features (a greenhouse, a garden, plus various walkways and modernizing the driveway). 

The article also goes on to explain how more than just Harry (and the barely-mentioned ghost) reside there. Any knight or former knight was welcome to stay as long as needed. When the author of the article visited the place, a former knight, his wife and small child were in residence – and the description of a diaper drying was, perhaps, a bit too much information.

A few months later, the paper published a letter to the editor that attempted to correct what he thought was the tone of the piece. She called the castle Harry’s “Poem in Stone” and expressed in no uncertain terms that Harry was a man of conviction and principle – a man in his 80s who could “outwork” any thirty-year-old. He states that Harry does not keep any of the funds he makes, either through donations or his work as a notary beyond what he physically needs to live. All the funds go into buying materials for the castle, as well as a scholarship the Knights set up and to publish the KOGT newsletter (magazine). She also says Harry has experimented with hybrid fruits and flowers, including one cross between a yellow and blue Iris that produced a huge four-foot flowers that leave visitors in awe.

Both of these do shine a light on the castle’s history, but it also points out a possible source for many of the myths and legends. Harry’s dream for his castle was for it to be not just an operations base (and retreat) for the Knights, but also a public amenity (doors were open from 10 am to 10 pm, all other times please ring the bell or stay outside). He welcomed visitors, and enjoyed their company, even if it meant taking a break from his work. Many visitors brought donations, either monetary or empty milk cartons or cans he could use for his vegetables. 

Harry (as well as any knight in residence) loved to greet visitors and tell stories, and I wonder how many of these stories were misunderstood, slightly exaggerated, taken out of context, or for whatever reason contained information that was less than accurate. I’m not suggesting Harry (or any other Knight for that matter) intentionally lied – good storytellers often rely more on drama and sensation than what is needed to tell a historically accurate tale. These stories can easily get passed along, taken for God’s Honest Truth, because they came from the source, in this case, Harry Himself (or one of his knights).

There is no doubt in my mind that Harry was a decent, hard-working man, and that the life he lived was one to be admired. And, it’s clear that many people looked up to him, as well. It’s no wonder he’s taken on a more … saintly … appearance.

Several people have relayed stories of various types of gangs or drunks “who thought it would be a grand stunt to capture a real castle” (according to the Dayton Daily News, May 11, 1975), including one group armed with machine guns who tried to shoot up everything in sight. He says he let them have it with both barrels.

Of the ghost, he says he only “appears” at night, although “appears” might be a bad word since he’s only heard the ghost, never saw him. He says he feels coldness in certain places, and hears things bump around as if the ghost was a bit on the clumsy side.

In another article (Dayton Daily News, Aug 17, 1980) he tells of a ghost that sleeps on a metal bed, a female ghost spotted walking across the Little Miami River, a ghost he associated with a particular willow tree that disappeared after the tree died, a viking ghost, and two ghosts of children he says were smothered in their sleep hundreds of years ago.

He also tells of measures he’s had to take when he caught people stealing from him, pointing to the large front door that requires two hands to open from the inside as evidence.

In his will, Harry Andrews left the castle to The Knights of the Golden Trail so that they could continue the work he had done throughout the later part of his life. The Knights gladly accepted this … local government, not so much. It seemed like they tried everything they could to get the castle shut down.

The building had been zoned as a single-occupant building, which they tried to enforce (meaning only a single knight could take up residence there at any one time) while simultaneously trying to condemn the building saying it was unlivable. They tried to claim the castle operated as a business, not as a residence in an attempt to shut it down. A 12-car gravel parking lot fueled many wild theories, with governmental action following. They tried a lot of things.

The Knights (and their attorney) saw things a bit differently. The castle, he argued, was built and began its operations well before the current zoning laws were enacted. Nothing had changed with the group, the castle, or what they were doing, so it made no sense to him why things would change after Harry’s death. He further argued that the Castle was good for the city as it had become a destination for travelers from both near and far, which was a provable boost to the local economy.

On Janurary 12, 1983, the Hamilton County Board of Zonine Appeals voted, unanimously to allow The Castle to say open and operate as a public facility – but with a few conditions, such as no retail sales. 

Since then, the castle seems to have had a much better relationship with not only the city administrators, but its neighbors as well. The knights continued not only Harry’s dream, but also they continued to expand while keeping in line with Harry’s original vision.

The Loveland Castle Today

The Knights of the Golden Trail still operate Harry’s Castle, aka Castle LaRouche, aka The Loveland Castle. If you are thinking about checking it out, I’d suggest visiting the website first – https://lovelandcastle.com – as they should have the most up-to-date information about hours, fees, and everything else you might want to know. (And, be sure to check out their FAQ section.)

According to their website, beyond offering tours, they’re also available for weddings, school tours, wine tastings, photo shoots, and paranormal investigations (at varying rates). 

Dig Deeper!

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