La Riviere, or as it is now known, Ingles’ Castle, sits in a little-known area of Radford, VA. The history of this late-Victorian mansion and the family which constructed it details a story of success in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity.
The area on which Ingles’ Castle currently stands which originally developed by Thomas Ingles in the early 1800s. Thomas was not a stranger to hardship. When Thomas was only four years old, himself, his mother Mary Draper Ingles, and his younger brother George (who was only 2), were kidnapped by members of the Shawnee tribe. This event was known as the Draper’s Meadow Massacre. During the kidnapping, Thomas and his mother were separated and George did not survive. Mary did manage to escape and make her way back home through the wilderness, Thomas however was unable to manage such a feat. He was finally found by his family when he was 15 and returned to his original home. After 11 years with the Shawnee though, this was not a change Thomas was ready for and soon ran back to his Shawnee family. Three years later, Thomas returned though and after a struggle, managed to integrate himself back into his native society.
He had settled down at the site of La Riviere with his wife Eleanor Grills, his daughter Mary and son William. Things seemed well for Thomas and Eleanor. Disaster was soon to strike again though. Eleanor had recently given birth to a new addition, Rhoda, when a roaming band of Shawnee attacked while Thomas was working in the fields around the property. In horror, he watched the same thing happen to his family that had once happened to him. The original La Riviere was burned to the ground during this attack. A rescue party was quickly assembled, but it was too late for Mary and William. Eleanor was gravely injured and needed very risky surgery for the day in order to live. Afterwards, the couple left the area to live in Mississippi, where they later had twin boys, William and Thomas Jr.
William led his own life as a successful engineer and Civil War veteran, eventually returning to the area after the death of his grandfather. Here, William became a successful businessman as well. The La Riviere land had been passed down to him from Thomas and it was here he decided to build a new home for his wife, Minnie Snow. The whole mansion was designed by William himself in the late-Victorian style. Hardship was not yet done with Thomas’ grandson either as the house burned down just before the couple were to move in. Undiscouraged, William hired an architect to rebuild La Riviere in the same style with one addition, a distinctive turret attached to the house.
Many modern visitors to the house have reported seeing or experiencing things which they were unable to explain at Ingles’ Castle. Some have theorized that the spirit of Mary Draper Ingles haunts the premises. Other theories are that perhaps the ghost of Anne McClanahan Bass could be the culprit. Whether or not Anne’s spirit haunts the grounds, she has forever left her mark anyway. Anne was a frequent visitor to La Riviere and during one such visit was trying in vain to locate her cat during a lightning storm. A particularly vicious bolt of lightning struck outside while she was passing in front of a mirror, imprinting her image into it. This mirror still hangs in the house and can be seen to this day!
Clio La Riviere (Ingles Castle)
Child ov Nature and the Ziggurat 4/10/2009 “La Riviere” – Ingles Castle
Retting, A. 10/5/2011 Little-known castle in Radford opening its doors to the public http://www.roanoke.com/webmin/news/little-known-castle-in-radford-opening-its-doors-to-the/article_2275b1e2-b504-58c5-b005-7e0e1c4b0c5b.html
The Beautiful La Riviera Castle
Image Source: Whim Magazine. Taken by Austin Tuley