I received E-Mail that said:
My husband grew up near Rome City Indiana, and there is a castle there on Sylvan Lake and it is simply called "the Castle". It is beautiful, we have drove past it several times, you can get a wonderful view of it from the opposite side of the lake, it even has a drive in boat house that appears to be connected to the castle.
You take State Rd. 9 N. to US. 6 then take a right on US 6, you will go to the small town of Rome City the lake is in the middle of the town, as you cross the bridge, to your right, on a small island there is also a beautiful old stone home. This town has beautiful homes. The Castle is a must see. Sorry that I can not give directions to it. However just about everyone in town knows of the castle, just stop at one of the local business's and ask.
Later, I received E-Mail that said:
The "unknown" Sylvan Lake Castle in Rome City Indiana, was the former resident of actress Carole Lombard. Carole was born in Ft. Wayne and often visited her mother who continued to reside there. Hopefully, everyone knows who Carole Lombard was, but if not, information can easily be accessed on the internet. She was married to the legendary Clark Gable when she was killed in a plane accident.
Later, I received E-Mail that said:
Being curious about information on small towns, in particular where I am from, carried on the internet, I was surfing one afternoon on Sylvan Lake (Rome City, Indiana) and came across your site and the short story about the “Castle” on Sylvan Lake. I was raised in Rome City and spend many hours on Sylvan and when I would have relatives or friends on my boat they would always ask about that stone house. I have been in it a few times but don’t remember too much about it. I recall going through it one time when it was up for sale.
It indeed belonged to Carole Lombard and was rumored that when she before/during her marriage to Clark Gable, they use to come there to get away from the Hollywood limelight.
It is located in what was called the “Narrows” which spanned the two basins of the lake. It was like a 10mph speed limit through that section so it was easy to spot the stone boat house and dock.
I will have to see if I can locate pictures of it and if I do I will send them to you with any additional information I may be able to find. Another option as opposed to waiting for me is to contact the city offices of Rome City and they may have any records/pictures of it as well. Not aware but seems likely there may be possible information available on Carole Lombard web-sites or since she is from Ft. Wayne there may be some info as well there. I don’t recall there being any type of museum or “tribute” to her there but one never knows.
Later, I received E-Mail that said:
We discovered a picture in a Noble county postcards book that has a picture of the castles in the fall and although small, does have a picture that is void of trees and other cover and has clear image of the house. I will attempt to scan that picture in and work with it to see if I can get a larger picture and hopefully clear.
Later, I received a followup message:
Here is the picture... I scanned it from the book and had to crop out the other pictures that were on the page with it. I blew it up and tried to make it as clear as I could but the grain of the paper it was printed on started to come through when I made it too big.. so this is what I could do at least for the moment.. I may be able to find a better picture later on but this one is good as it stands out from the trees...
If the date is right, 1930, you can imagine all the trees that are around it now plus there are houses on both sides of it that were not there then.. At least you can see the building for the most part.. will keep trying to find out some history on it in the meantime.
On 6-7-05, I received E-Mail that said:
I'm writing concerning the unknown castle of Rome City, IN on Sylvan Lake. I live just a few miles from the castle. I'm not sure that Carole Lombard and Clark Gable stayed there, lived there, or ever owned the property. What I do know is that Carole Lombard is a family relative to my father. Her family did have a place on Sylvan Lake not too far from the Castle as a child. They did have family friends from Fort Wayne IN that did own the castle in the early 1900's. (I believe this to be true but would need to re-substantiate that fact.) Carole loved the area and hated leaving the lake when they moved to CA, so it would seem reasonable that her and Clark could have made their way back her to Sylvan Lake and stay in that castle. As I am researching it might be a fact fun to validate.
Anyways, there is an island on the lake not too far from the Castle that was called Peters Island. That is where Carole's family stayed. They owned the house on the island. Sorry if I've confused anything! If you can put me into contact with anyone who has any other information, I'd greatly appreciate it!
On 6-14-05, I received E-Mail that said:
My family has had a house on Sylvan Lake since 1903. I grew up on the lake and have lived here year round since 1966. Carol Lombard was born Jean Peters. Her grandfather, a Fort Wayne manufacturer, had a home on the Peters Island and Carol visited as a child. She did not live on the lake and to my knowledge Clark Gable was never here. I am old enough that I would have remembered if he was ever here. Carol Lombard had no connection to the castle. It was owned by a man named Willig (sp?) who had a tire business in Fort Wayne. He did the stone work on the house.
On 8-4-07, I received E-Mail that said:
The “Castle” at Rome City was built by my grandfather, August Willig. My grandfather was a businessman in Fort Wayne. My mother, the only child yet alive, spent her summers at the castle until it was sold in the early 1950s. It used to have a regulation size clay tennis court on the hill behind it. My mother’s sister, now deceased, was an artist and has painted some pictures of the cottage as it looked before it was sold. Our family has some pictures of the grounds. As far as Mom knows, there were no celebrities that ever visited. One of the stories my mom tells is how my grandfather would have a summer picnic at the castle every summer for the children of the catholic orphanage in Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne businesses would donate food and toys for the children. By the way, the “castle” was only known as the Willig cottage when her family owned it. Calling it a “castle” is fun and very interesting to us!
Also, my grandfather built three beautiful stone homes in Fort Wayne. I grew up in one of them. The houses were on the corner of Highway 3 and Dupont Road. A Walmart is being built there now. I have pictures of Grandpa working with the stone. He was an amazing man!
On 9-3-09, I received e-mail that said:
Reference your "UNKNOWN CASTLE" in Rome City, Indiana on Sylvan Lake.
This is the August Willig Castle. My parents had their home just seven houses to the East. When I went to school and lived on the lake during the 1950's some of my buddies and I would go to the castle. At that time it was vacant. We knew a way in and it was really a "grand" place. Above the fireplace was a large buffalo head. Most of the kids that lived on the lake used to kid that the place was haunted. Just next door was the Phillips house. The husband killed his wife with an ax and the set the place on fire. We used to say that the ghost of Mrs. Phillips left the burned house and moved into the castle. Around 1954 a family from Chicago bought the castle and moved in. They had two daughters. The parents both worked in Fort Wayne, so this left the girls alone in the castle. When they rode the school bus they used to talk about seeing a ghost. When we told them about Mrs. Phillips they "freaked-out". Who knows?
There was a tower, which made the place look like a castle, which August built for his only daughter. I don't know what her illness was but it was for her to lay out in the sun and rest.
My parents sold their home in 1976 but on my last visit there the clay tennis court was still intact. Those were the years. Those were the best of times.
On 3-12-15 that said:
When I was a young child this home was for sale. At that time my father loved to take rides and 'just look' at homes. So he and I went to Sylvan lake. He called this place the Berghoff (sp?) home (the Berghoff's owned a brewery in Fort Wayne). I don't know where he got that information, or if it was correct, but I do remember that home! As someone else mentioned the living room was quite large it had a moose head on one end and a buffalo head on the other. Neither looked out of place or oversized. Back in those days people just didn't have such large rooms. Most of the rooms were done in knotty pine.
I, as a young girl, fell in love with the tower. There was a tunnel that went to it. I was certain my father would let me live in the tower after we bought the house. As I remember it there were 3 floors. I was also quite impressed with the structure that looked like stone wishing well on the lake side of the house. The whole top would would swing out of the way and there was a place to BBQ. I think about it now and it seems so odd that when a home was for sale people were just allowed to go in and look around. No agent and my parents never talked about reported vandalisms. On the way home I said, "Dad, when will we be moving in?" He laughed and said, "We aren't buying that place." "I just wanted to look at it." I remember crying and being so--o sad. So that's my story about the Willig home.
Back to "Castles of the United States"
A special thanks to Tim Marshall for sending the photo.