Lost in the Pythian Castle: A Text Adventure

Ever wished you could explore the inside of the Pythian Castle (or any abandoned castle, for that matter)? Choose your own adventure into the history and lore of the building and the Knights that once inhabited it through Midstory's newest form of interactive storytelling.

It’s late. You’re on the edge of an empty parking lot in downtown Toledo.

Click below to begin.

The History of the Pythian Castle

1864 – Knights of Pythias (KoP) is founded as a secret society by Justus Rathbone in Washington D.C. inspired by the themes of Friendship, Charity and Benevolence.
1869 – Toledo Lodge, No. 20, the first KoP Lodge in Toledo, is founded.
1888 – A Memphis, TN temple bans black men from joining. The Supreme Lodge allows the move, leading to the racial segregation of the KoP. To this day, there are two fraternal orders known as the “Knights of Pythias”—one predominantly white, the other black.
1890 – The Pythian Castle is constructed in Toledo, Ohio. Five Toledo area KoP lodges begin holding weekly meetings 
1923  – KoP membership peaks at just under 1 million members.
1951 – The Knights of Pythias sell the building to Greyhound Lines.
1970 – There is an attempt to use the Pythian Castle for artist colony and studio spaces 
1972 – The Pythian Castle is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1978 – A fire leaves the building in a state of vacancy and disrepair.
2013 – Land bank acquires the foreclosed castle.
2016 – David Ball purchases the castle for $300 and is supported with the promise of its restoration after a period of three years.
2017 – Renovations on the castle are started by Water Street Development LLC.
2020 – Renovation of Pythian Castle ongoing with extension. Its roof is restored.

Notable Items and People

If you ran across mysterious items or people in the game, read below to find out their histories.

The Jewel
Ornament worn like a lapel pin bestowed on members of the Knights of Pythias (KoP) upon attaining the rank of Knight. The basic Jewel was a metal triangle with the letters “F C B” engraved on its vertices, standing for the order’s three cardinal virtues: Friendship, Charity and Benevolence. Officers, or those ranks above Knight, had a distinct Jewel corresponding to that rank. The shape, size, materials and design varied based on the officer’s responsibilities in their lodge.  

The core of the order was and remains its secret “ritual.” The first iteration of the ritual, which was composed of ceremonies, rites, costumes and more, was composed by Rathbone and became the inspiration for the order itself. Rathbone’s ritual was based on an Irish play, itself based on an ancient Greek parable. Since the order’s founding, the ritual has been amended on multiple occasions. To the present day, parts of the ritual remain secrets of the order.

In the early 1970s there was an attempt to make the building into an artist colony. The plan failed within 2 years and by the end of that decade, a fire in the building had left it desolate and vacant.

Justus Rathbone
Founder of the Fraternal Order of the Knights of Pythias. Inspired by the story of the friendship of Damon and Pythias, he wished to promote friendship between the North and South in the final months of the American Civil War.

Warren Harding
The 29th President of the US from 1921-1923. One measure of the KoP’s reach and power in the early 20th century is the political influence of prominent knights.The order boasts at least three US presidents (William McKinley, Warren G. Harding and Franklin Delano Roosevelt are confirmed members), several prominent senators and dozens of congressmen. Though it’s prominence has waned, even today, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is rumored to be a member. 

Learn More

Read actual books and documents from the Knights of Pythias below.
Knights of Pythias Constitution
Knights of Pythias Manual
Knights of Pythias Drill Tactics and Manual
Knights of Pythias Illustrated Catalogue #10 (find banners, costumes, furniture and more!)
Browse much more here


  1. About five years ago, I was chosen to create a piece of art that told a story about the Pythian Castle for the Toledo Arts Commission, “You Are Here”, program. My art was secured to sidewalk in front of the building. It contained a bar code that contained my story. There were 100 historic buildings chosen for this show.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here