I received E-Mail that said:
Kimball's Castle was built by a railroad baron in 1895 on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.
Later, I received E-Mail that said:
I am from NH and am a castle hunter. Most from europe. Kimball castle does still exist though the picture you have shows no tree's and there are alot of tree's hiding it from the road. it is abandoned and boarded up.
Later, I received E-Mail that said:
I found this atricle in a local newspaper, and thought you might like to see it as it has a lot of info on Kimball castle, as well as the man himself. It is from "The Weirs Times" (based in the weirs/laconia, NH)
Benjamin Ames Kimball and His Historic Gilford Castle
by Nicholas Richardson
Benjamin Ames Kimball was born in Boscawen, NH, on August 22, 1833 to Benjamin and Ruth (Ames) Kimball. However, young Benjamin’s father died a year after his birth. Upon reaching young adulthood at the age of 16, he joined his older brother John in the Concord Machine Shop. The shop is said to have been unequalled in the entire U.S. because of its massive structure measuring 300 by 65 feet. It had been set up to take care of the area’s railroads for over fifty years and therefore the primary business there was that of the repair and construction of railroad equipment.
Benjamin Kimball was a very enthusiastic apprentice and showed special skill in the drafting department. He loved working with machinery and heavy equipment and was advanced rapidly in the shop. However, Benjamin knew that he needed an education to accomplish his goals and resigned from the shop in 1851. He had been educated at Concord High School, Hildreth’s Preparatory School in Derry, and then after leaving the shop in 1851, joined the first class of the Chandler Scientific Department at Dartmouth College. Benjamin graduated with a B.S. with highest honors in 1854 and immediately entered the service of the Concord Railroad as a draftsman and machinist. Although only twenty-six, he was a foreman, master mechanic, and then superintendent of the locomotive department within two years of joining. Then, in 1858 he succeeded his brother John as mechanic in charge after a hot debate among the Railroad Board of Directors. No one had ever been given such responsibility at that young an age, but it was decided that the quality of his work warranted the elevation.
The Company’s confidence in Kimball was not misplaced, for he dug in and managed his duties with skill and imagination. In 1861 he married Myra Tilton Elliot of Canterbury, who was a teacher in the Concord school systems. She was a great lover of the arts and with Ben owned a collection of fine paintings and art treasures. She led a fairly secluded life, but was relied upon for judgement by her husband outside of his business ventures. Together, they had one son Henry Ames Kimball.
In 1863 the news came that President Lincoln had freed the slaves and as the newest tender rolled out of the shops, Kimball took his chalk and wrote “Liberty” on its side. From then on, all the models of that equipment were known as Liberty engines.
However, Kimball was determined to stand on his own two feet as a success and for him this job was not the answer. So, in 1865, after eleven years of service, Kimball resigned from the Concord railroad and became a partner in the firm of Ford and Kimball, which manufactured parts for railroad rolling stock and especially car wheels. Not only did this foray into the vast world of business prove to be successful, but also it showed Kimball the many opportunities existing in the growing railroad business. He now saw the immense possibilities of the railroad industry and resolved to see himself as one of the chief architects of the railroad systems that were sure to come to New Hampshire.
Things soon prospered as Kimball became the founder, director, and president of the Cushman Electric Company of Concord and was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives from Concord’s 6th Ward in 1870. In 1873, Kimball became the president of the Manchester and North Weare Railroad and in 1874 became the President of the newly reorganized Concord Savings Bank. In 1873 he helped Concord develop a public water system, which was drawn from Long Pond at a cost of $350,000. He was a delegate at the New Hampshire constitutional convention of 1876 and went on to serve at the conventions of 1889 and 1902. Also, he helped organize the Mechanic National Bank of Concord in 1877, became Vice President in 1880, and President in 1900.
In January of 1879 Kimball got the position he had been waiting for, for years. He succeeded Gov. Onslow Sterns as a director of the Concord railroad and would go on to be the director and finally president of its successor, the Concord and Montreal Railroad. He was also a director of all of the leased railroads connected to the Concord and Montreal. Kimball was a member of the NH Executive Council 1884, an alternate delegate in the Republican National Convention of 1880, and a commissioner in a convention of commissioners from several states arranging for the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the United States Constitution held on September 15, 16, 17, 1887, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Commission to erect the New Hampshire State Library Building in 1889, the incorporator and director of the Manufacturers & Merchants Mutual Fire Insurance Company, and a member and trustee of the New Hampshire Historical Society. Last but not least, he was a trustee and chairman of the finance committee at Dartmouth College.
During his long affiliation with the railroads of New Hampshire, Kimball applied his administrative and mechanical expertise to the upgrade of the systems and he built beautiful new stations using state of the art equipment. He consolidated small connecting systems and continually fought off attempts by the Grank Trunk Line to install a north—south route from Vermont to Boston in direct competition with the Concord and Montreal. The Grank Trunk Plan failed after Kimball had stated his lines efficiently served Boston and that his lines could also handle any and all freight coming from Canada that was destined for Boston or points south. Also, Kimball built a railroad spur from Dover to Glendale titled the Lakeshore Railroad and he appropriately changed the railroad line’s name to the Concord, Montreal, and Lakeshore Railroad.
Kimball continued to exert a powerful influence on New Hampshire’s railroad lines and soon his line discovered a second growing opportunity in the business of tourism. They took over ownership of the Lady of the Lake, a steamboat on Lake Winnipesaukee, complimenting his rail monopoly in the Lakes Region. The Lady brought passengers from Alton to Center Harbor and was in hot competition with the steamships Dover, which was owned by the Boston and Maine Railroad, the Chocurara, and the Jim Bell. However, the competition just about ended when the Boston and Maine built the biggest and fastest ship on the Lake, the Mount Washington.
In 1893, after an eighteen-year rivalry, competition won out and the Lady of The Lake was towed to Glendale to provide living quarters for his latest project. Kimball had taken a trip to Germany and while sailing down the Rhine River gazed in awe at the wondrous castles on the hilltops. So on top of Locke’s Hill in Gilford, Kimball set out to build an exact replica of a castle he had seen on the Rhine. It would command a panoramic view of the land around the Lakes Region, and it must have occurred to him that he could keep an eye on his marine activities, while listening to the soothing sound of his locomotives puffing down the Lakeshore line through Glendale. Kimball’s Castle would stand tall as one of the greatest summer homes of New Hampshire for decades to come.
Work started on the castle in 1897 and took two years to finish. Nothing was spared and no detail left out to keep the castle from being a fitting place for his family to spend a good part of the year there, which usually went from early spring to late October.
The stone used to build the castle was hauled to the building site by oxen from the construction site on the south side of Locke’s hill, but since a part of the Lakeshore Railroad just happened to run by the site, the cut granite used for the parapets was hauled by rail from Concord. An English architect, who also made all of the interior furnishings, designed most of the woodwork and ironwork. Then it was shipped over to Boston by boat, where it traveled to Locke’s hill on the Lakeshore line. However, oxen carried it directly to the castle and it was then re-assembled inside.
A long service road, which today is the only one accessible by motor vehicles, winds up around the side of the castle and pulls up behind the group of buildings. The main driveway curves up towards the castle from a now closed off section of Locke’s Hill Road, and once entered the property through a massive wooden gate that hung on huge wrought iron hinges from two thick stone gateposts, which still stand there today. They act as if making their final attempt to ward off all unwanted visitors from the castle grounds. However, they don’t quite do the trick anymore because vandals attached chains to the gate and pulled it off with a truck. So the posts still stand and the hinges swing in the breeze with nothing to hold.
Looking from a parapet of the castle one could see with ease the high peak of Rattlesnake Island along with Locke’s, Welch, and Diamond Islands lying directly below. In the center of the view were forty islands including Governor’s and Bear Islands.
Over the front entrance hung a large wrought iron lantern brought from Germany. Fastened to the each side of the entrance are iron fish that act as spouts for the water that ran off the entrance roof. The front door is three inches thick of solid oak and had an oriel window in its center. The door was once decorated with beautifully hand carved hinges and a doorknocker in the shape of a lion’s head, which is in itself a work of art.
There were originally four gargoyles in the shape of dragon’s heads, one on each parapet, which served the same purpose. On the left side of the house, if facing the entrance, there is a large stone porch that provided another great view of the lake and beyond. There are large, arched, semi-circular openings that allowed a viewer to access more of the lovely lake view and there is a metal pole railing built into the stone work. On the wall high above the porch is an iron fixture, which once held a flagpole for all of the passersby on boats to see and it probably caught one’s eye while gliding across the lake on a sunny day.
The castle has a large two and a half story, main house section and a one-story section that leads to a smaller two-story kitchen wing, which also served as the servant’s quarters on the second floor. There are a total of six chimneys in the house, each topped with a metal chimney cap, for although there are seven fireplaces in the house, the one in the kitchen is directly below the one in the servant’s quarters.
One door travels into the front of this section and there is yet another on the right side that is covered by a small shingled roof. Above the main entrance landing is a copper sheathed sitting room with battlements that was added to the castle as an afterthought. Mrs. Kimball (daughter-in-law of B. A. Kimball) liked to use it as a sewing room, for there was an oriel window on the front and a large window on each side. This must have allowed her to catch all of the sun possible, and the great windows surely provided a breathtaking view looking out over the main driveway to the lake. The room today is almost a shade of light green after decades of the copper paneling being exposed to the elements. Most of the other windows on the building are stone framed and with an arch at the top. However, all around the base of the house are small square windows no more than a foot high, which are now screened and were probably installed as vents for the basement, which was used only for a heating plant and storage.
Upon entering the castle through the front door and passing the wide steps leading to the second floor, one would enter into an octagonal space, surrounded by an octagonal balcony, lit by an octagonal skylight and supported in part by octagonal columns. The skylight once contained amber glass. This has been referred to as one of the castle’s most interesting features.
The first floor of this room was the castle’s main room and was used as both a living and dining room. The gas fixtures, which were later converted to electricity, are of wrought iron and feature a lion’s head in their center with an iron ring dangling from its mouth. The walls were made of plaster and the floor of hardwood. There is a large brick fireplace with a polished tile hearth, and large arched windows to the east and west. The fireplace is one of the two on the first floor, for there is also one in the kitchen. This particular fireplace in the dining room was once decorated with a helmet, breastplate, mesh gloves, battle-axe, and spear that adorned the paneling above the fireplace. It is also indicated that at one time there was a gigantic stuffed moose head hanging in the castle’s living room. The furniture in this dining room was very unique for it was made both of oak and black cherry. To the left of the fireplace was a side board made of black cherry that was referred to by many as, “without a doubt the finest piece in the castle”. If only it were there for us to view today. To the right of the fireplace was a high-backed bench that was magnificently decorated with eagles and flowers. The bottom of this bench pulled out to reveal a storage space. Beneath the window to the left of the entrance was a large oak table with bulbous legs and two deep drawers. The tops of the windows (in this room), as well as many of the others, were decorated with lovely green bullseyes or spun glass.
The large, round dining table had splendid bulbous carved legs that featured an unusual mustached face. The six chairs, which were made of oak, are equally as interesting for the same mustached face of a man is on the back of each one. However, here the carving is so cleverly done that the curly hair on each side forms an entirely different face when viewed from the right or left profile. To the left of the dining table and the entrance French doors led out to the already described stone porch. It was on this porch that Kimball loved to sit in his rocker during his free time and gaze out over the lakes and mountains. This was a view he said was, “ the most beautiful in the world”. He also often queried his guests on, “where in the world could one find a more superb view that lies before us?”
The section of the first floor that connects the dining room to the kitchen served as a pantry that contained cases for glass and china, and on the front room of the section there was another door serving as an alternate entryway.
The kitchen was large and its many windows made it a bright cheerful place to work. There were two sinks, one of black iron and one of porcelain, and there were two, deep stone washtubs. In the corner there was an old wood stove, which provided the houses occupants with many delicious things to eat. Also, a large built-in icebox provided refrigeration and a door on the outside allowed the iceman to fill the ice chest without disturbing the household. In the center of the room was a small door with a handle that served as a dumbwaiter, which could be raised or lowered by pulling a brass ring in the floor. Cheeses, jams, and preserves could be kept in the cold cellar until needed and then brought to the kitchen using this device. A large oaken side door, much like the main door, provided a side exit and was also decorated with wrought iron. There is a small door at the bottom of the stairs leading to the servant’s quarters located above the kitchen. This door lead to a wood storage area for wood used in the large fireplaces. Stairs from the kitchen lead to two servant’s rooms and possibly a bath. Since there is no second story in the connecting section of the castle the servant’s quarters are not connected to the bedrooms on the second floor of the main house.
The stairs in the dining room leading to the second floor are off to one’s right when entering the room and contain two flights of steps. At the first landing are two steps, which lead to the copper sheathed sitting room Charlotte Kimball loved to sew in. The second flight of stairs continues up to the top of the balcony. Looking down through it one can see the dining room. There are turned banisters and hefty corner posts with pendant drops below.
On the second floor there is a hall that circles the balustrade of the balcony that contains five doors. Four of these doors opened into the main bedrooms, which were located in each corner of the house, each containing a fireplace in the corner. There were also two windows in each bedroom, a triangular closet, and plaster walls and ceiling, making each room identical to the next. Mr. Kimball used the Southwest bedroom while Charlotte Kimball used the Northeast bedroom. Both Mr. and Mrs. Kimball’s bedrooms were furnished in identical maple beds, dressers and commodes. On the second floor there is also a bathroom that contained a “Duncan Phyfe” tub and two alcoves, one to the north, one to the east. The bathroom also contained settees and a large oaken storage closet.
Outside of the castle an octagonal stone gazebo (The Sun House or Roundhouse) stands on the lawn South of the castle. It is an open shelter with low, stone walls and eight piers of rounded stone masonry supporting a shingled octagonal roof. Cut granite steps lead to openings at the four quarters and the ceiling is tongue and grooved boarding with exposed beams and rafters. Mrs. Kimball had this structure built so that she could sit and watch the sun rise and set.
Further across this lawn is a shingle style caretaker’s cottage, facing the castle. This was once used by a gardener and is now occupied by a caretaker. A high, rough stone foundation supports its shingled walls and shingled piers on the porch facing north. This house and porch are supported by a broad hip roof. The “eyebrow” window in the roof over the porch steps, the splaying bases of the walls, and the porch piers, all enliven this simple but charming structure.
The front door opens directly into the living room, which, like the other original rooms in the cottage, has a hardwood floor and horizontal tongue and groove boarding walls. It also has a small mantelpiece with a built-in mirror and a boxed board ceiling. The other original rooms of the house are two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. In the 1960’s a three-room addition was built on to the south. It has concrete block foundation, shingled walls, gabled roof, and modern interiors. Despite some kitchen alterations and the addition the cottage is very much unchanged.
The simpler one-story stable is located nearby. It is like the cottage with its broad hip roof and shingled walls, which splay out at the base. However, on this building there are simple bracketed eaves, a four row band of fish scale shingles, and a louvered ventilator-birdhouse on the roof. The only entryways are a large sliding door on the west and a smaller door to the south. Three stalls and a privy open up to a large general workspace. The walls are strictly utilitarian, sometimes covered by the tongue and grooved boarding. Since the stable is built on a slope, there are hinged doors at the base that swing up to reveal the area where the horse manure was shoveled through a hole in the floor, ending up on the ground under the stable. If one looks under these doors today, they will find a large barrel looking old enough to be there from the days of Mr. Kimball himself. To the south of the stable is a driver’s or hostler’s house. It is a small, single-story, gable roofed, shingled structure with two rooms. To the north is a living room/bedroom and to the south is a kitchen. The living room contains the house’s original, white door, a dresser, and a white closet in one corner. The kitchen contains rolled up rugs, a rusted sink, cabinets and shelves. The interior is once again done in tongue and groove boarding. The one and a half story carriage house is a long shingled building with five bays that open out into the service yard to its north between the gardener’s house and the stable. The roof is asymmetrical, normally sloped on the south but steeply pitched on the north. Bracketed eaves, (as on the stable) and three gable dormers are the only embellishments to the structure. However, attached to the rear of the carriage house is a shingled, gable-roofed shed opening to the south. Three of the bays are covered by sliding doors and pairs of hinged doors cover the other two. These bays housed vehicles, equipment, and in the westernmost bay there was a shop. The interiors of both buildings are again utilitarian with exposed framing.
Between the driver’s house and the carriage house there is a one room, gable roofed icehouse. The structure’s concrete foundation and novelty siding on the exterior suggests that it was built at a later time than the other buildings in the complex. The walls are sheathed on the interior with the same tongue and grooved boarding and judging by their thickness were probably once filled with sawdust insulation.
Located on the service road that pulls up to the complex from behind the caretaker’s cottage is a shingled, hiproofed, one-room pump house that provided the estate with its water supply. The motor and pump assembly still remains inside this building but is most likely not in working order. There are remains of what seems to have been a small chicken house lying just beside the pump house. Also, about thirty feet behind the east wall of the castle’s main building there is a rounded stone well measuring about five feet in diameter that is covered with a sheet of plywood, but in Mr. Kimball’s days it most likely pumped water to the castle’s flower gardens.
The last element of the castle’s 280-acre estate that is necessary to describe is its wonderful landscape, which went on for about a hundred acres. The castle’s surroundings were once well landscaped with flowerbeds, terraced gardens, shrubbery, and trees. But most of the property has grown up into dense woodland. Granite steps led down to the lake but now stop at relocated Route 11, which was not there at the time the castle was built. There are many flat places along these steps where the Kimballs would stop to enjoy the view. Also to be found in the woods today are other steps, terraces, walls, and gateposts often carefully built of cut stone. Just to take a look in the woods through the trees on the edge of the forest one can observe at least twenty stone terraces in one area and it is still possible to walk down the long winding granite steps today.
The Kimballs were great lovers of nature and throughout the woods there were many flowerbeds that once bloomed in profusion on Locke’s Hill. Today, the high trees that seem to stretch up to the sky, block the view from almost any part of the property. These were once well pruned and topped in the days of Mr. Kimball to allow full view from his castle. There is more to be described of the castle grounds that neither time nor space can allow for a thorough description.
Benjamin Kimball was happy with “the Broads” as he called it. When it was finished, he used it until he died in it at the age of 86 in July of 1920. The train schedules just happened to fit into his schedule and he traveled between Concord and Gilford in his private car. Mr. Kimball must have wanted to change the castle’s look after a while because in 1906 he had a thick coat of white stucco applied to it. Today much of it has fallen to the ground around the castle’s foundation, but it can still be seen around the front entrance. However, there is no record of how the local castle watchers of the time reacted to this new look of white stucco.
As he looked out over the panoramic view Kimball could recall with satisfaction the days when he was so involved with a piece of the action. So far as is known, Kimball never made any effort to participate in the affairs of the town or to become involved socially with area neighbors or acquaintances. In his lifetime Kimball had seen great changes and he had the satisfaction of knowing that he had made a major contribution to the character and progress of these changes in New England. Mr. Kimball’s body was taken to Concord and buried in the family plot in the Blossom Hill cemetery. His beautiful old Town House in Concord is now the Masonic Lodge and it is said that a rare Tiffany ceiling lamp lighting the main hallway is appraised at $10,000.
Mr. Kimball’s son Henry Ames Kimball had died the year before his father in 1919. After much traveling, he had finally returned to Concord to take over some of the family business responsibilities. When Benjamin Kimball and his wife had both died, Henry’s wife, Charlotte Atkinson Kimball, continued to live in the castle during the summer until she died in August of 1960. It is said that in her final years she didn’t like living in the castle at all. She found it cold and drafty, dark and dreary, and beset by young vandals who seemed intent on making life miserable for her.
At one time the castle must have been offered for sale. An old Meredith Real Estate broker’s brochure stated that at least $50,000 had been spent on the beautification of the grounds, and the outbuildings had cost $25,000. In 1897 the castle had cost Kimball only $50,000 to build. The brochure offered the entire property, land, and buildings for $100,000. However, Charlotte Kimball, worried about the property’s future, had willed 125 acres or more to the Mary Mitchell Humane Foundation in 1957, then two more tracts of land to the Alvord Wild Life Sanctuary, and three more tracts were donated in 1958. Finally, in 1959 the castle and remaining property was also deeded to the Mary Mitchell Humane Foundation. The deed called for Foundation management, but allowed the land to be sold to benefit the Foundation. A sum of $400,000 was also given to the Foundation, but sadly it would never be used for maintenance of the property.
Trustees from this foundation proposed subdividing the property, despite Charlotte’s refusal to even consider it when she was alive. The New Hampshire Attorney General became involved because of the plan’s contradiction to Charlotte’s well-known wishes. The Attorney General obtained a court order, which prohibited the subdivision of the property because it did not conform with Charlotte’s wishes.
The Foundation’s trustees remained quiet for the time being and installed a caretaker on the property. They proposed to give the castle to the town, but the town backed off when they learned that they would not get all of the property. Then in 1977 in response to Selectman’s inquiries, the trustees offered all of the property to the town. Since the Attorney General’s office had determined the property could be given to an appropriate organization which would respect Charlotte’s wishes, the Selectmen voted for acceptance of the property and buildings in July of 1978. This also went along with public sentiment, which had begun to favor acquisition of the property. So in 1979 the town voted to accept the property. Although most felt that a revenue producing facility should be kept there, they thought that the town should not expend funds on improvements.
The town of Gilford accepted the property as a gift to use it to match federal improvement funds. However, a technicality required that the town accept it as a gift from a pass through agent. The Natural Science For Youth Foundation provided this service and deeded the property to the town in July of 1981 after receiving it in April of 1980. After this happened the Attorney General stipulated that the acreage and buildings could never be used for commercial, residential, or industrial use. The Natural Science For Youth Foundation agreed to assist in trust administration, the recovery of the money lost to the Mary Mitchell Humane Fund, funding for property restoration, and program development. So in 1981 the Foundation sent an employee to live in the caretaker’s cottage as the beginning of the supervision to a large restoration project. The town established a Kimball Castle Association to advise the Selectmen on the proper management of the property.
In 1980 the town of Gilford received a grant from the Cooperation Extension Service to complete a master plan to outline the different options of property development, concentrating on wildlife preserve alternatives in keeping with Charlotte Kimball’s wishes. The Kimball Castle Association had the responsibility of supervising the development of this master plan along with representatives from the Gilford Board of Selectmen, Gilford Conservation Commission, Gilford Recreation Commission, Natural Science For Youth Foundation, Kimball descendants, and the Extension Service. This plan was developed, but the restoration of the property into a natural science education facility was never carried out due to the town not being able to spend the money or voting not to spend that amount of money on the castle’s restoration.
Nothing was decided about the castle up through the rest of the 1980’s and the first half of the 1990’s. However, in October of 1996 developer’s Don Leavitt and Rick Miller of Bear Island Restorations in Meredith and owners of the Red Hill Inn in Center Harbor announced that they had obtained the $3 million in financing needed to complete the restoration of the castle into a fine country inn and restaurant. Also, they would bring up the old Lakeport railroad station, built by Benjamin Ames Kimball, to provide, along with the caretaker’s cottage, twenty guestrooms with fireplaces and jacuzzis in them. They would install an 8,500 square foot addition to the 6,000 square foot castle, which would contain a 120-seat dining room and kitchen. They would build a new road from Route 11 to the castle and restore the old view by removing three quarters of the trees on the hillside, which are now blocking the once breathtaking view of the lakes and mountains. However, four years later the castle still remains the same and it is not clear whether the developers still intend to carry out their plan of restoration for the landmark.
Through all these years of being argued over, the castle remained exposed to the elements sitting out in the open on top of Locke’s Hill. The castle suffered from moisture damage and vandalism throughout these years. Leaks in the roof and walls have led to plaster, masonry, and beam damage. The castle has been literally stripped by vandals who have taken every piece of rare tapestries, hand crafted furniture, and exquisite paintings from the castle, including just about every item in the list of things that decorated inside the rooms of the castle. It is already mentioned that the gates were ripped off their supports and even a fireplace mantel from one of the bedrooms was taken. Also, the oak banisters on the balcony were stolen and all of the four gargoyles on the castle’s parapets were taken. There is hardly anything left inside and all of the stained glass decorated windows are broken, along with every other window in the castle.
On a visit to the castle in April 2000, I realized the total state of disrepair that the castle was in. Although it is not written in any papers done on Kimball’s Castle thus far, I will state that the building itself is now falling apart. The mortar in between the stones of the castle has begun to fall out in almost every wall and on the back wall of the castle many of the stones forming an arch that once held a beautiful window have fallen to the ground. Also, part of the masonry on the same wall of the castle has fallen to the ground and the area above and beside it looks like it too, could fall down at any time. The small roof above the side door appears to be slowly tumbling to the ground and the tallest corner of the building looks like it may only have a few years left. If this supporting corner comes down the castle itself is soon to follow.
The carriage house is in poor shape along with the stable, driver’s house, ice house, pump house, and the caretaker’s cottage. The trees, which were once carefully pruned and topped, are now grown up, along with many others, thereby blocking the view that was so beautiful, so long ago. Also, the flowerbeds are dead, most likely from brambles and neglect.
So, atop Locke’s Hill in Gilford, Kimball’s Castle remains in a state of limbo. It is a landmark with a great deal of value that most Lakes Region citizens don’t even know exists. The drivers on Route 11 fly by it everyday not knowing that above them sits a monument to their own heritage. It is a crumbling monument, which within years will go from a forgotten piece of history to a pile of rubble that once was a piece of history. Kimball’s Castle is New Hampshire history slipping away into the abyss of time.
“Gilford Landmark Crumbling Away”, Evening Citizen, Saturday, May 12th, 1984, Author: Jim Moore.
Kimball’s Castle: Master Plan, April 1982, Prepared by the Kimball’s Castle Association.
“Kimball’s Castle Project Gets Financing Package”, The Weirs Times, Thursday, October 3, 1996, Author: Roger Amsden.
One Thousand New Hampshire Notables, Article on B.A. Kimball, ©1919.
Set of papers written about Kimball’s Castle, Author: George Bingham, 1981.
The Granite Monthly, Article on Kimball’s Castle, © 1900.
The Gunstock Parish, Author: Adair Mulligan, ©1995.
Two page description of Kimball’s Castle, Author Unknown.
Later, I received E-Mail that said:
I can tell you that new progress has begun. They have begun renovations on all the buildings, excluding the castle. They are starting to build some of the cottages and the grounds will be available for general admission and camping in the spring of 2004. After the cottages have been built, the castle renovations will begin. The current owners are currently in England now, getting info from the original castle.
Later, I received e-Mail that said:
I was thrilled when I finally found something on Kimball Castle on the internet. For years she has remained as one of my fondest yet heartbreaking memories. When I was 18 years old or so in the late 70's some friends took me up to see Kimball Castle. We had to climb up this steep hill & then climb up an outer wall. Although creeps had vandalized her she still was beautiful. I remember looking up where once a stained glass w/ still pieces of glass here & there. I did get the hibby jibbies when we went through the door in the floor in the kitchen. There was furniture in the basement or something covered up in white sheets. Nobody had the guts to look what was underneath. The room off the side of the kitchen was kind of creepy, too. The rest of the castle although falling apart just seemed so sad that she had been abandoned. I never quite got over her beauty. I visited her twice. As I got older I knew sneaking into her wasn't a cool thing to do not only for safety reasons but the mere fact that we could get mistaken for those that didn't respect her beauty.
Later, I received this link about a story in the "Union Leader"
Later, I received e-Mail that said:
Kimball Castle in Gilford, NH in the 70's. Today I got to go to Kimball Castle during an Open House & although the 30 years have taken a toll on her she still stands.
I also learned today that an offer has been made to buy her & there's a possibility of her becoming a resort. I encourage people to see this building. The current owners are very nice about it as long as arrangements are made ahead of time w/ them. For more info about this hidden treasure go to kimballcastle.com kimballcastle.com
Later. I received E-Mail that said:
Kimballs castle is now up for sale and the trees are cleared, a paved driveway is now in place but the castle, house, shed, etc. are still falling down. I pass by the castle every few weeks and notice some changes but not many, the castle still needs millions of dollars of repair.
On 6-20-09, I received e-mail that said:
Very interesting site on castles, especially your story on Benjamin Kimball. I recall riding up to the castle with my grandfather in the 50's. His name was John Kimball Woodward don't ask me to explain the relation. All I know is he told me the family were some how related. Woodward's too were from Boscawen and Salisbury area.
Anyways in a list of coincidences my brother in law presently is a live in care taker. For your interest on how things look inside and out I'm sending along some photos taken this past Easter.
On 8-13-13, I received e-mail that said:
I thought this article would be of interest. Unfortunately I lack the funds to save this beautiful castle, but maybe someone else can do something.
On 7-7-19, I received e-mail that said:
I live across the street from Kimball Castle in Gilford, New Hampshire. I wanted to update you that it was recently purchased by a young couple this past September who plan to restore it and turn it into a wedding venue. I'm not sure how much restoring they have done with the castle but the grounds are starting to look beautiful.
Back to "Castles of the United States"
Research for this page done by Phil Bilzor and Emily Abbott.
Second photo courtesy of R. J. Adams.