ConlonTT, Wikimedia Commons

Ohio's Loveland Castle Was Hand-Built By a Midwestern Medievalist

ConlonTT, Wikimedia Commons

Located approximately 15 miles northeast of the Cincinnati city limits, Loveland, Ohio, is home to around 12,000 people and one reportedly haunted castle. While the Château Laroche—or Loveland Castle, as the locals call it—has a fascinating heritage, the story behind its creator, Harry Delos Andrews, is equally intriguing.

Born April 5, 1890, Andrews was a medievalist who objected to modern warfare and preferred sword-to-sword combat. As a conscientious objector, Andrews joined the World War I effort as a medic (although he sometimes claimed he was a courier between President Woodrow Wilson and General John Pershing). But, at the beginning of his military career, he contracted cerebrospinal meningitis. Andrews was presumed dead, but for some reason one of the attending physicians decided to administer a new drug, adrenaline, and his heart began to beat again.

By the time Andrews was officially declared undead six months later, his fiancée had married another man. (Andrews himself never married, although he reportedly turned down as many as 50 marriage proposals after a news story pointed out that the man with the castle was a bachelor.) And after a lengthy recovery, Andrews was stationed at Château de la Roche in southern France, where he served as a hospital administrator. The time in France left a lasting impression on Andrews, and would eventually influence the name of his life’s work.

In the 1920s, one of Andrews’ projects was his Boy Scout-esque troop, which he named the Knights of the Golden Trail (KOGT). The group often camped along the shore of the Little Miami River, which bisects Loveland. The two plots where the group stayed were donated by families of the scouts, who obtained the land through a subscription promotion held by the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper. The KOGT spent so much time on the site that they began to leave their camping gear there, leading Andrews to want to build two stone structures as shelters. Of course, the combination of knights and stone abodes led Andrews to decide that a castle needed to be built.

Andrews began construction in 1929. The structure is comprised of rocks pulled from the riverbed of the Little Miami, bricks he formed himself by pouring concrete into milk containers, and even stones given to him by visitors. Andrews modeled Château Laroche after a 16th century castle, but updated the floorplan to include modern rooms such as an office, garage, and junk room (though he made sure to include a dungeon and imprisonment tower, because what castle is complete without them?). Among its many facilities is a hidden room in the garden, accessible through one of the arches, which was discovered after Andrews’ death in 1981.

As Andrews told it, “Château Laroche was built as an expression and reminder of the simple strength and rugged grandeur of the mighty men who lived when Knighthood was in flower." And the castle allegedly had American royalty among its fans. The King—Elvis Presley—reportedly visited Château Laroche multiple times and even offered to buy it. Andrews refused, and ultimately willed the castle and its ground to the Knights of the Golden Trail, who maintain it to this day.

Now, the Loveland Castle is open to visitors and regularly hosts a variety of activities from tours to picnics to overnights. One of the highlights is the annual Halloween Scary Knight Tour. And, yes, the Loveland Castle is rumored to be haunted. Andrews reportedly told visitors that a spirit named Casper Poltergeist inhabited the building, as all castles should have a ghost. And though that tale was merely something out of Andrews' imagination, some people believe that "Sir Harry" Andrews himself—whose remains were scattered on the property—now haunts his beloved castle.

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The World’s 10 Most Beautiful Metro Stations
T-Centralen Station in Stockholm, Sweden
T-Centralen Station in Stockholm, Sweden

Some of the most beautiful places on earth lie just below the surface. For proof, look no further than T-Centralen in Stockholm, Sweden, which has just been named the most beautiful metro station in the world by Expedia.

The travel site used Google Trends to analyze the most-mentioned metro stations in the U.S. and Europe, but Expedia ultimately chose the order of its top 10 list and threw in a couple of other hidden gems. Russia and Sweden frequently popped up in their research, so it’s no surprise that stations in those countries secured the top two spots on Expedia's list.

Dubbed “the blue platform,” T-Centralen is the main station of Stockholm’s subway system, and it’s also one of the most ornate. Royal blue flowers and plant patterns creep up cave-like walls, and another section pays tribute to the workers who helped build the Metro. It has been suggested that the color blue was chosen to help commuters feel calmer as they go about their busy days.

A section of T-Centralen
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It was the first station in Sweden to feature artwork, which stemmed from a 1956 competition to decorate the city’s metro stops. Over the years, more than 20 artists have contributed their work to various stations throughout the city, some of which have tackled important social and environmental themes like women’s rights, inclusivity, and deforestation.

In second place is Moscow’s Kosomolskaya Station, which also has an interesting origin story. When the Metro started operating in 1935, it was designed to help promote Soviet propaganda. Kosomolskaya Station, named for workers of the Komsomol youth league who helped build the first Metro line, had marble walls with gilded mosaics, crystal chandeliers, sculptures of fallen leaders, and painted scenes depicting important moments in Russian history. “Unlike the dirty, utilitarian systems of many cities around the world, the Moscow metro drives through a former—but not forgotten—stage of history that sought to bring palaces to the masses,” Expedia’s report states.

Komsomolskaya Station
Komsomolskaya Station in Moscow, Russia

Most of the stations on Expedia’s list are in Europe, but three are in the U.S., including two in New York City and one in Washington, D.C.

Here’s the full top 10 list:

1. T-Centralen Station (Stockholm, Sweden)
2. Kosomolskaya Station (Moscow, Russia)
3. Arts Et Métiers Station (Paris, France)
4. The Wesfriedhof Station (Munich, Germany)
5. Toledo Metro Station (Naples, Italy)
6. Staromestska Station (Prague, Czech Republic)
7. Metro Center Station (Washington, D.C, USA)
8. Mayakovskaya station (Moscow, Russia)
9. Abandoned City Hall Station (New York, USA)
10. New York City’s Grand Central Terminal (New York, USA)

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India's Supreme Court Demands That the Taj Mahal Be Restored or Demolished
iStock
iStock

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable monuments on Earth, but over the years it's started to look less like its old self. Smog and insect droppings are staining the once pure-white marble exterior an unseemly shade of yellow. Now, The Art Newspaper reports that India's Supreme Court has set an ultimatum: It's threatening to shut down or demolish the building if it's not restored to its former glory.

Agra, the town where the Taj Mahal is located, has a notorious pollution problem. Automobile traffic, factory smoke, and the open burning of municipal waste have all contributed to the landmark's increasing discoloration. Insects and acid rain also pose a threat to the facade, which is already crumbling away in some parts.

India's highest court now says the country's central government must seek foreign assistance to restore the UNESCO World Heritage Site if it's to remain open. Agra's state of Uttar Pradesh has taken some steps to reduce pollution in recent years, such us banning the burning of cow dung, which produces heavy brown carbon. In 2015, India's Supreme Court ordered all wood-burning crematoriums near the Taj Mahal to be swapped for electric ones.

But the measures haven't done enough to preserve the building. A committee led by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpu reportedly plans to investigate the exact sources of pollution in the area, a process that will take about four months. The Supreme Court plans check in on the status of site every day from July 31.

Air pollution isn't the only factor damaging the Taj Mahal. It was constructed near the Yamuna River in the 17th century, and as the water gradual dries up, the ground beneath the structure is shifting. If the trend continues it could lead to the building's total collapse.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

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