Chess might be the game of kings, but shuffleboard ranks a close second. The game, which originated in the pubs of England over five hundred years ago, was a big favorite of King Henry VIII (1491-1547). Played on a lengthy court, players use long cues to shove weighed discs across the court to score points.
But what does shuffleboard have to do with the Castle or the West Garden Room (‘the West’)? When Linda Mueller began her restoration of the Castle in 2001, rebuilding the West was not even a blip on the royal radar. The West was one of two wings originally built to house Albert Loeb’s prize-winning cattle (Loeb Farms, 1918-1927). Three years after Mr. Loeb’s death (October 1924), his family made the decision to close the farm. By the time John VanHaver (2nd owner, 1962-1969) purchased the Castle, the West roof had collapsed and the walls were crumbling. Third owner Art Reibel (1969-1999) removed all but 40’ of the West in order to give concert goers a better view of the concert stage he’d built.
Following Linda’s purchase in 2001, a 10-year building plan was drafted. They thought they’d get around to rebuilding the West eventually. “Richard thought we would have 1/3 weddings, 1/3 tours, and 1/3 corporate events,” Linda said. Rebuilding the wings with the roofs (including the West) would come later. But things moved a little faster than expected. The 10-year plan shrunk to five years, which ultimately turned out to be great news for Linda. “I’m really glad that we did it that way,” she says, “because construction costs went up so much after 2005.”
With the decision made to rebuild the wings, Linda and her construction crew got to work. By June of 2004, the West was up, an open air pavilion complete with shuffleboard courts. The courts, made of cement, had painted scoring on each end. Wooden inserts were made and put into place to keep the flooring level when the shuffleboard courts weren’t being used. Shuffleboard rules were printed and handed out to visitors, along with the cues and weighted discs. Castle Farms was advertised as an Activity Center, a place where people could have fun with their families. Guests played ‘Old English’ lawn games such as bocce ball, badminton and croquet, plus played shuffleboard under the covered West pavilion.
“But then,” Linda said, “we realized that weddings were really going to be the big dog.” Wooden floors were crafted that were able to be placed over the existing cement shuffleboard courts so wedding parties could dance the night away. It worked for a while, but eventually Linda and Richard decided it would be nice to have another finished room. The West was enclosed to include fashionable French doors on both sides. Today, the West is known as an elegant reception area, and the shuffleboard courts are only a distant memory.