Linda and Richard Mueller met in high school while in speech class. Linda was a shy, bashful, stay-at-home type of girl while Richard was always on the go doing something. They had different personalities but were fascinated by one another. For their first date, they went to see a movie, and then to a restaurant which had trains running on tracks up around the ceiling high above their heads. Both of them thought the trains were awesome. A few weeks later, Linda designed special ‘train cookies’ for Richard at Christmas. Since she couldn’t find train cookie cutters, she cut them by hand, baked and decorated them, then stored them in a special tin. Richard loved the train cookies, and hid them in his desk so his family wouldn’t find them and eat them.
Senior prom and high school graduation came and went. At summer’s end, Richard went off to study engineering at the University of Michigan, while Linda headed to Kent State for art history. But college couldn’t keep them apart. After their freshman year, Linda (who, at the ripe old age of 19 had already decided that Richard was the man for her, and that she couldn’t wait around forever), said to him one day, “Why don’t we get married?” Richard didn’t even blink. He nodded and said, “Sounds like a good idea to me.”
They were married on May 3, 1969, in a church featuring gothic arches and stone walls, just like the Castle. Richard, who was still a student, also worked for a small business called Domino’s Pizza. He’d started working for Domino’s in 1967, driving a delivery truck and delivering pizza to the dorms. Richard bought his first Domino’s store in 1970 as soon as he turned 21 and was old enough to sign the contracts. In partnership with his brother (and later his and Linda’s oldest son), the number grew to over 135 Domino’s Pizza stores, primarily in Mississippi and Louisiana. All of that pizza dough is what helped fund the purchase of the Castle.
Linda was still in high school the first time she saw the Castle. She’d traveled to Charlevoix with Richard and his family, who had summer ties to the area. Linda was fascinated by the great stone walls and buildings of Castle Farms. After she and Richard married, the two of them visited every time the Castle was open for events. When it came up for sale, Richard ‘bugged her’ to buy and restore the Castle, a decision she does not regret. But when it came to buying the Castle, she didn’t rely just on Richard. A woman of deep faith, Linda put the decision into God’s hands. “It’s your choice, God,” she thought to herself. “If it’s not right for me, then I’ll accept it.” Ultimately the sale went through and in January 2002, Linda became the fourth owner of Castle Farms. Linda still puts everything in the hands of God, even after 46 years of marriage, four children, and six grandchildren later. “You just never know,” she says. “Richard and I did everything wrong, and it still worked out.”
Linda and Richard are the two people we have to thank for the beautiful restoration of this historical gem that is now Castle Farms. If it wasn’t for their vision, determination and creativity, Castle Farms would not be what it is today. Linda and Richard are still determined to bring all of Loeb Farms back together which is why they recently purchased another part of the historic property which was known as the “Stinky Barns”. You may have spotted the big red barns while driving down M-66 North, not too far from the Castle. It was where the “stinky animals” of Loeb Farms lived; pigs, turkeys, chickens, etc. Some may see it as an old, beat up barn but Linda and Richard see it as another gorgeous structure that needs to be saved. For now, they are focusing on restoring the buildings on the property but we are excited to see what big plans they come up with once they are brought back to life!