Kimball Castle forum postponed to April 9 to give group time to explore purchase

GILFORD — Selectmen have postponed a public forum for townspeople to discuss the future of Kimball Castle until April 9 in order to give the the Kimball Wildlife Forest Committee time to work with New Hampshire Preservation Alliance to see if the property can be purchased using state and federal preservation money.

The public forum about the future of the controversial castle and the 20 acres surrounding it was scheduled for next week.

According to the Kimball Wildlife Forest Committee Chair Sandra McGonagle, the idea is to purchase the property from the current owner — David Jodin doing business as Kimball Castle Properties LLC — using preservation money and private donations.

McGonagle said they Wildlife Forestry Committee has obtained the services of a private appraiser with the goal of setting an independent price for the property and getting the current owner to agree to sell it to the committee for that price.

In March of 2013, the town's building inspector determined the structure was unsafe and ordered the owner to either put a fence up or demolish it. The owner wants to demolish the castle and sell the property for use as a single family residence.

The selectmen, acting in their capacity as trustees of the Kimball Wildlife Trust, voted unanimously to allow the owner to have the private structure removed.

Should the sale effort be successful, McGonagle said the hope would be to incorporate some of the 20 acres back into the 280 acres already managed by the Wildlife Forestry Committee and put a fence around the castle to stop people from entering the immediate area.

She said the castle would be allowed to decay naturally.

McGonagle said she appreciates the position the selectmen are in regarding the town's potential liability should anyone be hurt in or at the castle. She also said she fully appreciates the owner's desire to sell the property.

She added that she also thinks it is financially unrealistic to expect to restore the castle.

Kimball Castle, said McGonagle, has been placed on the "seven to save" list in New Hampshire and in 1982 the castle was given a spot on the National Register.

She said she is hopeful that the combination of the two designations is enough to earn them a preservation grant in the event the owner elects to sell it at the independently appraised price.

Kimball Castle was built on Lockes Hill in 1895 by Concord and Montreal Railroad President Benjamin Ames Kimball.