Pythian Castle’s unique history and medieval appearance makes the more than 100-year-old structure unique
Pythian Castle in Springfield, Mo., offers an opportunity for visitors to experience the thrill of history, ghosts and medieval-styled architecture.
Built in 1913, and dedicated in 1914, the Pythian Castle is linked to the history of the Knights of Pythias, which is an male fraternal order that started after the Civil War. They built facilities like Pythian Castle so members and their families would be cared for.
Tamara Finocchiaro, the owner and operator of Pythian Castle, said the order has very few members today. Starting from the East Coast and moving west, the group was at its peak when it reached the Midwest around the time of the Civil War.
According to Tamara, the military took the castle over during World War II. At the time, they were creating a military hospital on the same block as the castle. The hospital was called Riley General Hospital, and the Pythian Castle became incorporated.
Rooms were changed and enlarged, Tamara said. The castle wasn’t a hospital, however; it was a place of entertainment and held the offices of the officers.
During these years of its history, the castle wasn’t open to the public. Tamara said the building was almost tore down because many people in the city believed it to be past its economic life.
Over time, Pythian Castle became a forgotten treasure. Tamara said it wasn’t until 2010 that the castle was transformed into the tourist attraction it is today.
For the first time, the public could enjoy its mysterious beauty.
Now, Pythian Castle hosts events for all ages can enjoy, including history and ghost tours, escape rooms, murder mysteries and rentals for private events.
A main attraction to the castle is the stories of the ghosts that haunt the historic hallways.
Tamara said the ghost tours are the most popular events at the castle. Visitors have reported hearing voices or being touched while touring with friends and family.
“There’s all kinds of unique paranormal things that have happened to people here over the years,” Tamara said. “It kind of draws people here.”
Tamara said the castle is a hidden gem to paranormal investigation groups. One group in particular has come to the castle around four times a year for the last eight to nine years to investigate.
Tamara said the castle is special because it’s unique.
“It’s quite unusual to have a castle in your town or nearby,” she said. “The history and the fact it turned out to be haunted is something people did not know. They found out the hard way, but that even makes it more intriguing.”
The Pythian Castle has something for anyone to enjoy. Tamara said she welcomes suggestions for what people think would be fun to do at the castle.
For tours, guests must first check the Pythian Castle website for scheduled times of the type of event they want to attend.
Tamara said there is a minimum capacity of people that must be met for tours for proceed as scheduled. Only a certain number of tours happen in a day, so guests should check online for availability, dates and prices.
While ghost stories have drawn many guests to Pythian Castle, the architecture and historical artifacts are just as intriguing.
The castle-style was a part of the imagery related to the Knights of Pythias. Building impressive structures was a tactic used to draw people in to join the order.
Tamara said while castles were built all around the U.S. for the Knights of Pythias, many didn’t have enough members to keep the building maintained. Other castles just weren’t large enough to keep and have been torn down over the years.
At the Pythian Castle, gray stone towers high and composes both the interior and exterior of the castle. Medieval and historic artifacts hang on the walls and fill the rooms.
Tamara said many people have donated artifacts over the years from the original time period of the castle. There is a whole room simply dedicated to display the artifacts.
Most antiques on display have either been donated, discovered or excavated from the castle site, Tamara said. A cornerstone was opened on the castle’s 100th birthday, which contained artifacts and documents from the building of the original castle.
Tamara said Missouri State University keeps a copy of whatever is discovered. There is everything from emblems to clothes on display.
Existing members of the order visit Pythian Castle even today. Tamara said the 100th birthday was a large cause for celebration with members.
Many people visit the castle each year, and since events are scheduled anyway, COVID-19 hasn’t affected business much, Tamara said.
The ghosts are an exciting part of the experience, but no one is guaranteed to come into contact with these supernatural entities. Tamara said the ghosts seem to pick on the guests that are most skeptical.
“Wouldn’t you, if you were a ghost?” Tamara said.