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Ohio Castles

Ohio's architectural history includes longhouses and leantos, log cabins and skyscrapers. Did you know that the foothills, valleys and plains of the state also support grand castles fit for royalty? Many of Ohio's castles were built as showplace homes for wealthy industrial moguls. Some still serve as private residences. Others are open for public tours. One of these is Piatt Mac-O-Chee Castle near West Liberty. In the 1820s, Judge Benjamin M. and Elizabeth Barnett Piatt moved their family to the rolling hills of Logan County. Two of their children, Abram Sanders and Donn, later built their own homes, Mac-A-Cheek and Mac-O-Chee, named for the Mecoche division of the Shawnee people who once occupied the land. Poet James Whitcomb Riley is said to have visited and been inspired to write his famous poem "When the Frost is on the Pumpkin." Today, the unique structures are a family-owned museum. In Loveland, Chateau Laroche (Loveland Castle) is the work of one man, Harry Andrews, who started building it in 1929. Most of the stones it's made of were carried in buckets from a nearby riverbed. Andrews laid nearly every stone himself. Some bricks used in the building of the castle were formed in used milk cartons. When Andrews died at age 90 in 1981, the castle was willed to his beloved Boy Scout Troop, the Knights of the Golden Trail. The Knights keep Sire Harry's memory alive by serving as caretakers of the castle. A castle in Van Wert housed the first county library in the United States. The Brumback Library was begun on July 18, 1899, as a free public library with funds bequeathed by John Sanford Brumback, a former resident of Van Wert. The architecture is a combination of Gothic and Romanesque with turreted towers. The building was dedicated on January 1, 1901. Since then, it's seen two additions, including a public auditorium. Still other castles reign in the Buckeye State. Those that are open to travelers offer guided tours rich with construction histories and stories of the occasional ghost that roams the long corridors.

Logan County's Mac-O-Chee Castle

(photograph courtesy of Piatt Castles Co. Inc.)

Words to Know: longhouse moguls Gothic turreted lean-tos bequeathed Romanesque For Discussion: 1. Most people think of castles as being very old and in Europe. Why do you think people in America would want to build a castle? 2. Search the Internet or the books at your local library for information on European castles. What is the oldest one you find? How much older is it than the Piatt Castles, Loveland Castle and the Brumback Library? Newspaper Activities: Scan the "homes for sale" ads in the classified section of the newspaper. What architectural styles are mentioned?

"Ohio: The Inside Story" is produced through a grant from The Ohio Newspapers Foundation, a nonprofit charitable and educational organization affiliated with The Ohio Newspaper Association. This is one of a series of 24 Ohio profiles.

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Ohio Castles

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