Castle Farms History

1918 To 1924

  • Built in 1918 by Albert Loeb, acting President of Sears, Roebuck, and Company
  • Designed by architect Arthur Heun based on the ancient stone barns and Renaissance castles found in Normandy, France
  • Originally known as “Loeb Farms”
  • Fashioned as a working model dairy farm where prize-winning livestock were raised, and to showcase the latest in new farming equipment available through the Sears and Roebuck catalog
  • Local field stone used in the construction
  • Largest employer in Charlevoix County, employing more than ninety people during its prime
  • Cheese Factory started on site, selling cheese under the name “Golden Leader”
  • Opened to the public every Sunday. Visitors touring Loeb Farms could buy cheese and ice cream, plus cheer on The Sodbusters, Loeb Farms’ baseball team, during games
  • October 1924, Albert Loeb dies; his second son, Ernest, takes over running Loeb Farms

1924 To 1927

  • Ernest Loeb oversees daily operation of Loeb Farms
  • Agricultural recession slows the United States economy, foreshadowing the Great Depression
  • In 1927, Ernest Loeb and family announce their decision to close Loeb Farms
  • All livestock and farm equipment sold at public auction
  • Farm buildings rented out for storage during the next thirty years

1962 – 1969

  • In 1962, John VanHaver purchases one hundred acres of original Loeb Farms from the Loeb Family
  • Debris from caved-in roofs is cleared and Renaissance touches added
  • Renamed Castle VanHaver, the property opens to the public for tours in July 1966
  • Art gallery and working artist studio on site
  • Gift shop and coffee shop

1969 To 1999

  • John VanHaver sells the property to Arthur and Erwina Reibel
  • Originally planned as a center for the arts, as well as a medieval tavern, the property eventually becomes a music theater and summer concert area
  • Renamed Castle Farms
  • 1976 – 1993 Castle Farms is “Rock n’ Roll Central”, playing host to many rock concerts
  • In 1999, Art Reibel dies and the property goes up for public auction

2001 To Present Day

  • 2001 purchase by Linda Mueller (current owner), with vision of restoring the Castle and preserving for future generations
  • Extensive restoration of buildings and grounds begins in 2001
  • 2002 First castle wedding held at Castle Farms
  • 2004 First Grand Bridal Expo held at Castle Farms
  • 2005 Restoration of buildings completed
  • 2006 Knight’s Castle Courtyard Garden dedicated to John VanHaver for his preservation efforts
  • 2008 Castle Garden Railroad opens to public
  • 2010 Fantasy Railroad doubles size of Castle Garden Railroad
  • Castle Farms open year round for weddings, receptions, festivals, corporate and social events
  • Listed on National and State Historic Registries, Castle Farms is open year round for historic Castle and Garden Tours

Comments are closed.