Back from the Brink

The beautiful area of Castle Farms now called the Queen’s Tavern has a history all its own.  During the days of Albert Loeb, the first owner of Castle Farms, the small room and its attached drum tower were sectioned into three separate rooms and operated as a dairy.  One section was used for sterilization, one housed the boiler and the third room was where milking implements were cleaned.  In 1923, a cheese factory was also installed in this area.

When purchased by second owner John VanHaver in 1963, the former dairy was in desperate shape.  The room was filled with debris and collapsed roofing. The artist’s creativity, hard work and repurposing brought the tower closer to what you see when visiting the Castle nowadays.  Mr. VanHaver used barn wood salvaged from more than fifty barns throughout Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, turning rough, hand-hewn beams into a rustic way to decorate the ceiling.

Before VanHaver was able to open this area as a gift shop selling his work, he also needed to fix the damaged floor.  Original glazed tiles that once lined the milking stanchions were rescued by VanHaver from an unimaginable pile of rubble created when the roof to stanchions caved in. He placed them on the Tavern floor in a lovely herringbone pattern.

Owner number three, Art Reibel, made further renovations in the 1960’s including an octagonal dance floor, bar and swirling disco lights.  Parties for invitation-only guests often lasted throughout the night.

Linda Mueller purchased Castle Farms and removed the disco lights quickly. The dance floor was refinished and now the Queen’s Tavern offers an intimate spot for smaller wedding parties to celebrate and dance the night away.  The storied tower also plays host to Farm-to-Table dinners once a month from May to October followed by a Twilight Tour of Castle Farms.

In March of 2017, the Queen’s Tavern was closed to events for a brief period of time. Crews were working carefully to repair and restore the tower after a minor fire damaged a small portion of the room in February. The Queen’s Tavern is once again open and just a beautiful as ever. In fact, beginning in September of 2017, the Tavern will serve as the new tasting room for Castle Farms featuring our very own wines under the label “1918 Cellars”. We are excited and looking forward to this new addition to our property!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and current events.

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