Castle in the Clouds Being Restored to its Original GrandeurPosted on July 20th, 2012 No comments
Visitors to the Lakes Region of NH have long enjoyed an amazing treasure: perched high atop the Ossipee Mountain Range overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, Castle in the Clouds beckons to those who love breathtaking views, stunning architecture, enchanting artwork, beautiful gardens, and unspoiled natural terrain. This important landmark has captivated visitors and locals alike for decades, and has been fully enjoyed as a place to attend concerts, gallery openings, and weddings, as well as a spot to relax over a leisurely patio luncheon or hike through a pristine wilderness setting. The “Lucknow” estate, as it was called by its original owners, seems to have it all, and a dedicated team, along with a caring local community, is working hard to keep Castle in the Clouds beautiful and in top condition so that it can be enjoyed for many years to come.
Tom and Olive Plant’s New Hampshire country estate, “Lucknow” was built between 1913 and 1914, and is an example of Arts and Crafts architecture, a style and aesthetic movement with a philosophy of living in harmony with nature. Since its opening to the public in 1959, the mansion has been known as the Castle in the Clouds, where fine hand craftsmanship can be seen in every aspect of its interior and exterior. The house also features many technological innovations of the early 20th century. The Plants lived at Lucknow until Tom’s death in 1941, and his desire to maintain the integrity of the estate was well honored. The families who owned the property after Tom passed away were good stewards and made efforts to ensure that the mountaintop estate remained close to its original state. The land and the buildings are now owned and protected by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust and the Castle Preservation Society, and several organizations have contributed to the restoration of the mansion and its surroundings for all to enjoy.
Just like all older buildings, Castle in the Clouds has needed quite a bit of maintenance and repair over the years. Many of the restoration projects are extensive and are being done in phases. Jill Cromwell, Development Coordinator of the Castle Preservation Society, has outlined some of the work that is in progress this year:
1. Total rewiring of the Castle – updating much of the original wiring that dated to 1914. This project was recently completed at a cost of $45,000. Restoration of the light fixtures will continue.
2. Stabilization of the Lower Gate House exterior so that the building is preserved for further interior restoration at a future date. This building (called the Brook Lodge by original owner Thomas Plant), by the gate at the main entrance to the Castle on Route 171 in Moultonborough, was built in 1914 when the Castle was built. It is the first glimpse of the Arts & Crafts architectural style that is seen above in the Castle. The Lower Gatehouse is currently uninhabitable due to extensive water damage. It has not been used for over 13 years. Several years ago the interior was gutted to prevent further growth of mold and mildew. It currently has no restroom facilities (a portable toilet has been located nearby for ticket booth staff use), and no public access.
This restoration phase will completely restore the roof tiles, roof ridge, snow guard detail, stone work, oak timbers and rafter tails, leaded casement windows and surrounding wooden framing and doors. Funding for this project came from individual donations, fundraising events, and several foundations – including the Samuel P. Hunt Foundation and the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program run by the state of New Hampshire.
The lodge has been covered by a superstructure of wood and plastic throughout the winter and spring – providing protection for the workmen and the building from snow and ice. The decay under the tile roof was more extensive than anticipated, so more work and funds are required. The exterior work should be completed later this summer. Costs originally budgeted at $155,000 will more likely be over $250,000. Once the interior is also renovated, the Brook Lodge will provide classroom and office space for educational staff. The Castle plans to expand museum-to-school/camp programs that will utilize this space. It will include a unisex handicapped-accessible restroom when all work is completed.
3. Interior restoration of several second floor rooms. With completion of the 2011 project restoring the Master bathroom dormer, work could commence on repainting and wallpapering. Some of the furniture original to “Lucknow” – as Plant called the Castle – has also been conserved and returned to its original location. Several window treatments have also been added. Over the past year and a half $46,000 has been spent on interior restoration.
4. Repair of the stone façade of the Castle’s east side under the Sun Parlor. As work progressed on the 2011 Basement Windows and Doors restoration phase it became apparent that many stones were delaminating from the two-story basement façade and that some areas were bulging. Repairing this stone façade has been identified as a priority and will be the next restoration phase undertaken. It is estimated to cost $60,000, but the severity of the problem won’t be known until work begins, and costs may be substantially more.
5. The Castle’s front façade, including the portico, its two flanking dormers, and the servants’ dormer requires attention also. This phase is expected to cost $250,000.
If you wish to help keep the Castle going, please consider making a contribution to the restoration fund. Donations can be sent to Jill Cromwell at the Castle Preservation Society, PO Box 687, Moultonborough, NH 03254, or on the Castle’s website here. Thanks for your support!
The Mill Falls Blogging Team
Photos courtesy of Castle in the Clouds and Steve Bedard, Bedard Preservation & Restoration.Lakes Region, Local Events, New Hampshire Events and Activities Castle in the Clouds, Lakes Region, Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, Moultonborough, Samuel P. Hunt Foundation
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