As our Northern Michigan growing season shortens into the cooler days of autumn, reflect on the changing seasons of the Castle property, and how the plantings of one owner could have given life to that of the next.
In 1918, Albert and Anna Loeb blew in on the fresh air, like seeds, embedding themselves into the land and into the Charlevoix community. They cultivated the property into a most influential and educational farming enterprise, making available many new resources and a wealth of information that improved the lives of area residents. The community embraced the new arrivals the Charlevoix Courier quoting Harry L. Oldham as saying, “Mr. Loeb is to be congratulated upon his selection of this site, Charlevoix is favored by the passing of this long recognized beautiful pointe into such hands.”
Loeb Farms became the largest employer of the area. More employees and their families meant a need for a larger and more advanced school, generously built by the Loeb’s and finally dedicated in 1919 as a standard school. Another building contribution to the area was an impressive animal exhibition hall built at the Charlevoix County fair. Meeting facilities were provided for dairy farmers and animal breeders where folks were invited to gather, learn and later visit and enjoy picnics and even watching moving pictures. The Cheese Box was a favorite of the ladies who appreciated the convenience of ready-made dairy products as well as the availability of fresh produce. The luxury of fresh cut flowers from Loeb Farms became a reality to homeowners in Northern Michigan at this time. Anna’s home was known for colorful and ever-blooming Gertrude Jekyll-style borders, as well as her peonies and primroses. The Loeb’s were also known for generously hosting. Invites to Red Cross activities, Christmas parties, Boy Scout outings, and baseball games enriched the lives of residents in the community. The Loeb’s had sown many seeds of influence that would continue to spread in future years.
With the death of Albert, the farm closed its doors in 1927. But the impressive buildings and summer estate, a legacy of education, and a trail of positive influences were already deeply seeded. The seasons tell us that there is a right time for all things. “Wise is he who grows in knowledge of these things… who develops a sense of seasons.” Author Jean Hersey continues writing, “surely every end has in it, the seed of a new beginning.”
Over thirty years later, the property came out of dormancy with those founding seeds still hidden away. And just as Gertrude Jekyll believed in planting “things that will follow in season of bloom and that can be trained to take each other’s places,” it seemed this was the fate of the Loeb property. It was destined to run through the hands of many owners with new visions successively “taking each other’s places.”
The next seasons would end with self-sowing wildflowers on rocky soil, hardy but neglected, robbing the land of much of its natural beauty. But Linda Mueller, with a love of art and gardening in her heart, knew that end would once again be “the seed of a new beginning.” Now the property is stronger and healthier, and more beautiful than it’s ever been. It’s ever-changing and ever-blooming. And in this new season of Castle Farms, Linda is working hard to sow, by far, more flowers and seeds about her castle grounds than any of her predecessors.