Saturday afternoons at the Castle tend to be busy, regardless of the time of year. Bustling with excitement, the bridal suite areas are normally filled with chatter and high spirits as brides and their attendants arrive at the Castle, to dress and then to wait for the ceremony to begin. The elegant and spacious East Bridal Suite features a settee, plump chairs, vintage vanities, and a full length mirror for guaranteeing dresses and hair are perfect. But the room’s use by today’s brides is a far cry from its original purpose. Once upon a time, the East Bridal Suite was part of a five-room dormitory for workers at Loeb Farms (1918-1927).
Albert Loeb, original owner of the Castle, was acting President of Sears Roebuck Company. He built Loeb Farms as a working model dairy farm to showcase farm equipment available in the Sears catalog. More than ninety men worked at the Castle. Most of them were married and lived offsite with their families. Single laborers at Loeb Farms were able to live on property. ‘The Club’, as the East Wing was then known, included a kitchen, dining room, and second floor dormitory split into five bedrooms, with accommodations for up to fifteen men. Ernest Loeb, Albert’s son who managed Loeb Farms for three years (1924-1927) following the death of his father, also bunked with other farm workers at ‘The Club’ during the winter before his marriage to wife Adele Fies. The East Bridal Suite was part of the dormitory area.
A few years after the death of Albert Loeb, Loeb Farms was closed. The property sat empty for over thirty years. John VanHaver, the Castle’s second owner (1962-1969), purchased the Castle with a vision of rescuing the property by creating an artist’s Mecca with a Renaissance theme. A talented artist and sculptor, VanHaver renovated the East Bridal Suite into a modern art gallery. Some of his original pieces of art were showcased in this room, as well as works by other local artisans.
The rock ‘n’ roll area began with Art Reibel’s purchase of the Castle. After building a massive concert stage, Reibel, the Castle’s third owner (1969-1999), brought in high-voltage rock groups such as Chicago, The Doobie Brothers, Aerosmith, and others to perform at the Castle. Once the concerts began, the East Bridal Suite served as the ‘green room’ for the various rock groups. Named after Johnny Carson’s famous waiting room for entertainers appearing on NBC’s “The Tonight Show”, the Castle’s very own ‘green room’ saw lots of nervous performers. While in the room waiting to appear on stage, some of the groups eased their anxieties by carving out a name for themselves… literally. One particular stone (now protected by Plexiglass) bears the deep scratch of ‘Bon Jovi’, while underneath, on the same rock, the initials ‘H.L.’ were etched by Huey Lewis himself.
Concerts at the Castle? Not anymore. Current owner Linda Mueller’s purchase in 2001 resulted in a stunning restoration which transformed the Castle into the elegant showpiece it is today. Not only was the massive concert stage dismantled, the ‘green room’ was renovated to accommodate brides. Today, the area that once held five bedrooms for farm workers contains two separate bridal suites. On any given weekend, the East Bridal Suite comes alive in a flurry of tulle, silk and lace. It’s a far cry from the days when cows were milked in stanchions found in the gallery below, and farm workers lived and slept at the Castle.