With so many people visiting the Castle (nearly 50,000 in 2014), people ask our staff all kinds of questions. Most are easy to answer. When did the Castle open for tours? How many weddings can you host in one day? But every now and then, an oddball question comes along that throws even the most knowledgeable staffer. We thought it might be fun to have a countdown of the Top 10 Weirdest Questions asked by guests visiting the Castle. Ready for some fun facts? Enjoy!
#10 I thought this was a dairy farm. Where are all the cows?
Loeb Farms operated as a working model dairy farm from 1918-1927. At that time, 200 head of Holstein-Friesian purebred dairy cattle called the Castle home. One of the cows, ‘Marion’, was 2nd largest producer of milk in the world, and had to be milked four times per day! After Loeb Farms closed, all the livestock, including Marion and the other cows, were sold at auction.
#9 Is this where you keep all the butterflies?
(asked by a visitor admiring the Butterfly Garden). The Castle’s Butterfly Garden, designed in 2006, features boxwood hedges, butterfly bushes, and butterfly chairs. While our staff would love to keep the butterflies confined to this area, those pesky butterflies have minds of their own. They flit in and out of other gardens at the Castle, so keep your eyes open and you might see one!
#8 Why is the Castle facing backwards?
Originally, the road into the Loeb Farms Estate looped north around the property. A long driveway ran up to and underneath the Queen’s Arch into the Queen’s Courtyard, which was the main entrance to Loeb Farms. That driveway is long gone, and most of the property is now part of a private homeowners association. M-66 highway is now located on the south end of the property, giving it the backwards feel.
#7 Are there tunnels under the Castle?
We’re not sure if the man who asked this was actually looking for a place to hide, but it’s an interesting question. No, there are no tunnels underneath the Castle, and there are no dungeons, either. However, we do have a dragon. His name is Norm, and he guards the Castle from the Dragon’s Lair garden.
#6 Can you shut off the fountain in the Queen’s Courtyard?
No pump is involved. Rather, the fountain’s source is an artesian well, which taps into an underground river flowing directly beneath the Castle. The water flows from a higher elevation south of the Castle and north into Lake Charlevoix. The fountain was capped for a time by the third owner, but the well kept flowing and water filled the Castle basement 5 feet deep.
#5 When’s the next concert?
Many who arrive at the Castle remember it only as a rock concert venue from concerts they attended in the past. Castle Farms Summer Music Theater operated 1976-1993, with big name bands such as Aerosmith, the Doobie Brothers, Led Zeppelin and the like. Visitors who enjoyed concerts in the past are amazed at the transformation of the property. The West Garden Hallway is filled with concert memorabilia, which allows guests on tour to relive some of their best concert memories.
#4 Is there anything that Linda Mueller can’t do?
Anyone who knows the Castle’s current owner will answer with a resounding “No!” This tongue-in-cheek question was asked by a woman on guided tour, probably after hearing about how much Linda actually does. But Linda truly is a Renaissance woman. Her commitment to restoring the Castle, her passion for detail, and her willingness to do any and all tasks, great and small, are just a few of the things that make her so special. Linda designed and fashioned the Album Quilt (on display in the King’s Great Hall Foyer) entirely by hand. She also can be found in the gardens on her knees, her hands filled with mulch and potting soil. A scrap of paper on the floor? Linda stoops to pick it up. She’d even pitch in and clean a bathroom if need be. Is there anything Linda can’t do? “That’s easy,” she says. “I don’t know how to cook!”
#3 Are you setting up for a small wedding reception?
People often ask this question when they reach the end of the King’s Gallery and see the single table decorated to seat six. Johanna Alexander, the Castle’s Wedding Planner, uses this table as a permanent display. She often swaps out the linens, stemware and floral arrangements to showcase different color schemes and ideas for brides. This table is all about wedding inspiration.
#2 Did they bring the Castle over from Europe?
It would have had to have been a very big boat! Seriously, the Castle was actually built on site by 35 skilled stone masons who trained more than 100 local men on how to work with the stones, which were harvested from fields across Northern Michigan. Mr. Loeb loved castles, and instructed his architect, Arthur Heun, to design the buildings based on the architecture of the stone castles found in Normandy, France. Construction began in 1917, with laborers working concurrently on both the main residence (located about one mile from the Castle) and the farm. The buildings were completed in 1918. We’re already in the planning stages for our centennial celebration.
And now, the top Weirdest Question Ever Asked at Castle Farms… (drumroll, please!)
#1 How many stones are there in the Castle buildings?
The gentleman on guided tour seemed completely serious when he asked this question. The tour guides got together for a little powwow, but none of them knew how to answer him. As his group headed into their event room for a catered luncheon, we told him we’d have an answer before he finished dessert. Then we headed straight to the smartest person we know: Linda Mueller herself. If anyone knew how many stones had been used to construct the Castle, Linda would be the one. When questioned, Linda merely laughed and shook her head. “You go back and tell that man that when he finishes counting them all, I want him to come back and tell me the answer… because I’ve always wondered the same thing myself!”