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Castle Farms of Charlevoix, Michigan

Castle Farms of Charlevoix, Michigan

 

Built in 1918, Castle Farms of Charlevoix, Michigan, has 100 years of history to share. The large stone structure was originally built as a model dairy farm by acting Vice President of Sears, Roebuck and Company, Albert Loeb. It was known as Loeb Farms and was Charlevoix’s biggest employer at the time, employing over 90 people. Loeb Farms had visitors from all around come tour the property to see the latest farming equipment, purchase cheese, milk, ice cream and other produce, plus watch Loeb Farms very own baseball team play against other local teams. Although Loeb Farms was thriving, it was hard to avoid the aftermath of the agricultural depression, so in 1927 the Loeb family closed the farm.

When Loeb Farms closed down, the buildings sat vacant for over 30 years and eventually fell into disrepair. Then, a talented artist and businessman named John VanHaver came across the property and fell in love with it. He purchased one hundred acres of the original property and went to work, cleaning up debris from collapsed roofs and restoring the buildings. He turned it into a renaissance themed castle and opened it to the public for tours, renaming it Castle VanHaver. There was an art gallery s

howcasing his shipwreck furniture and metalwork, along with other artists work. Plus, a gift shop and café for people to hang out in and relax. Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep Mr. VanHaver financially stable, so he made the decision to put the property up for sale.

Art and Erwina purchased the property from John VanHaver and renamed the property Castle Farms, with the intent of founding a horse riding academy. Although a riding stable was established, new plans evolved, which included a theater and tavern. Eventually, an outdoor concert site was constructed. As rock music became more and more popular in the late 1960s, it did not take long before Castle Farms earned a name as a premier venue for hosting rock concerts. During the next two decades, high energy acts such as Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Tina Turner and the Beach Boys performed in front of crowds numbering up to seventeen thousand people. Area rock fans were thrilled they did not have to make the trek five hours south to Detroit or other far-away venues to hear their favorite groups perform. The Castle Farms Music Theater had a great run from the mid 1970s to early 1990s, but the rock-n-roll parties eventually came to a halt, and the property was put up for sale for a third time.

Linda Mueller would visit Charlevoix every summer with her high school sweetheart, Richard, and his family. She was always fascinated with the magnificent stone walls and arches. When they heard it was up for sale, something told her that she needed to rescue the property. With broken windows and crumbling fieldstone walls, Castle Farms, reduced to a thirty-seven acre property, needed major repairs and renovations. The dairy barns and silos were roofless, the horse barn roof was sagging and near collapse, but Linda was determined to do everything she could to restore it back to the beautiful structure it once was.

Today, Castle Farms is open year-round to guests for historical guided and self-guided tours. The buildings have been restored back to their original blueprint plans, and Linda even added a few of her own touches. Guests love walking through the extensive gardens and feeding the ducks in the Reflection Pond. Another favorite is the 1918 Museum, which is filled with items from WWI and the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog, plus, Michigan’s largest outdoor model railroad, with over 70 G-scale trains and more than 2,500 feet of track. The newest addition is the 1918 Cellars Wine Tasting Room, open May-October, featuring Castle Farms very own Michigan-made label of wine and hard cider.

Castle Farms is a great place to visit on your own or with a large group. The professional tour guides will delight your guests with stories about the Castle while leading the group at a comfortable pace. Castle Farms is handicapped-accessible, and wheelchairs are available for guests. The parking lot provides ample parking for tour bus operators, and catered lunches or dinners are available for groups of 20 or more.

For more information, visit CastleFarms.com or contact their Group Tour Specialist by email at tours@castlefarms.com or by telephone at (231) 237-0884, ext. 224.