As we learned last month, Castle VanHaver opened to the public for tours on July 2, 1966 and the community couldn’t have been more thrilled.
Over the next few years, guests could tour the buildings and enjoy a treat at an on-site coffee shop. They were able to sit and linger over coffee and snacks at small tables and benches set up among the great stone walls and towers of the Queen’s Courtyard. On Sundays, because VanHaver was a deeply spiritual man, guests were often treated to the magnificent tenor voice of Mario Lanza crooning the “Our Father” and other spiritual hymns in the radio broadcasts soaring high over the stone towers.
A gift shop featured crafts and furniture designed by VanHaver. He would dive the waters of both Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan to find wood from area shipwrecks, which he then turned into unique furniture. There was also an art gallery which showcased Mr. VanHaver’s modern paintings, as well as his metal sculptures of heraldic arms, emblems, and escutcheons cast in aluminum and bronze.
His reputation as a skilled artist grew and much of his original metalwork featuring old English lettering was soon on display all over Charlevoix. Some of it can still be viewed on a few of the downtown buildings today.
John VanHaver was a brilliant man, but by 1969, financial difficulties caused him to rethink his dreams of running a Renaissance castle. He reluctantly decided to sell Castle VanHaver and in November 1969, Arthur and Erwina Reibel became the third owners who then re-named the property Castle Farms.