Haunted Dwelling: The German Castle at Castle Park - Holland
6700 Bryant Avenue
Castle Park, Holland, Michigan 49473
It is not open to the public, and they mean it.
The privately owned German Castle can be found in the unincorporated, woodsy area in the outskirts of Holland, the summer community of Castle Park, not far from the beach on Lake Michigan. To take a quick look at it, take 146th St, west, which turns into Audubon St. When the road is by Kelly Lake, Audubon St. splits with one side going to the right and one going to the left. Bear right and go down that Audubon St. Turn left at the intersection of Audubon Street. and Grandville Street. Bear right again. Grandville St. will turn into N. Cherry St. and then into Cottage Road. Bryant Avenue intersects Cottage Road. The German Castle can be seen up on the side of the hill, not far from Cottage Road.
DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY:
This three story, roomy, brick Victorian castle, which inspired the castle described in the book, The Wizard of Oz, was designed after a feudal German castle. It was built in 1890, by a wealthy, retired German immigrant, Michael Schwartz, who had made a boatload of money in the Chicago real estate market. He and his family originally had fled from the harsh life under Prussian militarism, bringing his family to America.
While he and his wife enjoyed the freedom to earn of very comfortable living and eventually make a fortune, certain elements of American society he found to be corrupting and uncivilized, so his idea was to build a feudal estate, reminiscent of the old country in an isolated, beautiful area, where they as a couple could raise their 6 daughters and 2 sons.
The castle was built to last, with Victorian style beauty and lots of room for the large family. The area was a lovely oasis from the city, close to the lake's shore. It seemed like a great spot to raise a family. The problem was with the 6 daughters, some of whom had grown accustomed to living with all the perks of city life, and the social opportunities. With so many unhappy kids in one household, the drama must have been high! Something dramatic must have happened to make Michael Schwartz abruptly change his mind. This grand experiment lasted just two years. In 1892, the Schwartz Family moved into the nearby town of Holland, never to return; abandoning their home, putting it up for sale.
By 1893, the castle was abandoned, but not for long! A Rev. Parr, who was a headmaster for a prep school in Chicago, noticed this fine piece of property and the handsome castle, while on a school outing to the beach. He bought it, turning it into a camp for children in the summer. Parents who came to visit the children at camp, fell in love with this lovely spot. The area surrounding the castle soon became a family summer resort, known as Castle Park. Summer homes were built there for the first time. By 1896, the Rev. and his wife closed their Chicago school and turned the castle into an inn.
The next owners of the inn, Carter and Marion Brown, more than doubled the size of the inn, and built cottages which surrounded the castle, putting in fireplaces in the inn and the cottages.
In 1985, the eighty residents of the summer homes in Castle Park bought the castle, and the inn was closed. The original rooms were resorted to their original Victorian design, and the additions were removed. This German castle is now used as a library and bingo hall for summer residents of Castle Park.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
One of the daughters of Michael Schwartz managed to escape her father's mandated isolation and met a local boy from the Dutch community in Holland. Uh Oh! She fell head over heels in love over someone that her father wouldn't approve of. She eloped with this boy one evening, but was caught on the road by her irate father and carried back to the castle. The heart-broken girl was locked in the castle's tower, until she agreed not to run away again, after her love. The relationship with her father was probably permanently damaged, and she lost what she thought was the love of her life.
Witnesses have seen the entity of this girl looking forlornly out the castle tower window, pining away for the boy whom she loved.
Though no paranormal investigations have been done here, eye witnesses still see her there in the castle, still stuck in her heart break and despair.
Though she probably went on with her life in Holland, something was never healed, and keeps her here in this world, as she can't let go. Lost love often causes hauntings. It reminds me of the story in Natchez, Mississippi, the Anchuca Mansion, where the father broke up the romance between his daughter and his overseer's son, causing hard feelings, heartbreak and anger.