The Castle Is His Classroom

Dec 07, 2020

Secondary education major Sam Lucas taps into his love of history as a volunteer tour guide at Nemacolin Castle.

sam lucas

It’s a castle, not a classroom, but Samuel Lucas is at home in it, just the same. 

The senior secondary education major with a history certification has been busy since September as a volunteer tour guide at Nemacolin Castle, also known as Bowman’s Castle, in Brownsville, Pa. 

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the castle dates to the turn of the 19th century and was home to several generations of the Bowman family. 

“We do three different types of tours,” Lucas explained, “a general history tour, a ghost tour for Halloween and then holiday tours in late November and December. The holiday tour is basically a history lesson, with a twist. There’s a Victorian wing of the house, so we incorporate that, and the Bowmans have a German heritage, so we incorporate those traditions as well.” 

COVID-19 safety measures are in place. Masks must be worn inside and tour group sizes are limited, Lucas said. It’s a no-touch zone inside, except for handrails that are cleaned regularly. 

Cal U’s decision to conduct the fall semester remotely in response to the pandemic played a role in Lucas’ decision to volunteer at Nemacolin Castle. 

“I was supposed to be a Community Assistant this semester, and I wouldn’t have had time to volunteer. I ran into Rocky Brashear, who is president of Nemacolin Castle, who knew I had an interest in history. He asked if I’d be interested in giving tours, and it turned out I had the time.

“I’ve been determined to put a positive spin on things this year, and this is definitely one of those things that worked out.” 

Lucas, who will graduate in May, is awaiting his student-teaching assignment for the spring semester. 

He said the questions from some history buffs who have visited the castle have him more prepared for the classroom. 

“Some people are really interested in the history of the building, and they ask a ton of questions, and I love that. It does prepare you for classroom questions, where you have to knw the answers on the spot. The longer I’ve been doing the tours, the more I’ve picked up. You definitely learn as you go.”