Lakes Region Profiles — Wolfeboro through different eyes

Many famous people have owned beautiful homes and estates in Wolfeboro over the years. One of the most interesting was Chiang Kai-shek. He was a Chinese political leader and a major figure in Chinese history from 1927 to 1948. His wife, Soong Mei-ling, often called Madame Chiang Kai-shek, was also prominent in the world scene. Time Magazine named the couple "Man and Woman of the Year" in 1938. In his "New Hampshire Commentary" blog, Dean Dexter says the couple "were what Tracy and Hepburn were to the movies of that era, or what Franklin and Eleanor were to a nation working itself out of the Great Depression."

According to Nick Liptak's article in The New Yorker, Madame Kai-shek maintained an estate in Wolfeboro until her death in 2003. When she visited, she frequented the antique shops flanked by Chinese bodyguards. She was known to often play hostess to movie star Debra Paget and New Hampshire Sen. Styles Bridges. Why is this so interesting? For one simple reason — here you have well-known figures from the other side of the world who chose to buy an estate in, of all places, Wolfeboro.

Over the years, other famous people have owned houses in Wolfeboro — people such as Mitt Romney, who had the means to choose properties anywhere. In fact, Wolfeboro has become known for the celebrities it draws, from world and political leaders such as former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Monaco's Prince Rainier and Princess Grace; to author Kurt Vonnegut; to myriad movie stars including Paul Newman, Farah Fawcett, Jack Lemmon, Sophia Loren, Jane and Henry Fonda, Drew Barrymore, Kirk Douglas, Jimmy Fallon, Dustin Hoffman and many more. Maybe these people saw the same things the Kai-sheks saw. Maybe they saw the same things I see when I drive through Wolfeboro with my clients.

I recently sold a home to a couple moving to New Hampshire from the south. They visited Wolfeboro and three weeks later bought a house. As I took them through the main street, they instantly fell in love with the town. The best way to see a place you are familiar with is through the eyes of an outsider. When we show someone else the best parts of where we live, we truly begin to appreciate them ourselves. Pointing to the beauty of the unspoiled surroundings and the quaint town, Wolfeboro looks every bit as charming as Malton in North Yorkshire, England, the town which inspired Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol." When I drove through downtown with my southern clients, they were greeted by the enormous Christmas tree in front of Black's Paper & Gifts. Classic wreaths and swags, ribbons and bows adorned the storefronts. Behind multi-pane store windows sparkled lively and colorful holiday displays. All the houses in downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods were decked with traditional Christmas garlands, festoons and lights.

Wolfeboro traces its history back to 1759 and many are familiar with its claim to be the oldest summer resort in America. It is a classic New England town. The meticulous grounds of Brewster Academy greet you as you drive in from the east. Apart from being a well-respected preparatory school with students from more than 20 countries, Brewster is the site for numerous Gordon Research Conferences, prestigious international meetings for scientists.

Wolfeboro has no big box stores, franchises or tacky fluorescent signs. The main street is dotted with bookstores, art galleries, cafés, pubs, bistros, and restaurants. There are unique shops, some with local products, including Kalled Gallery, Wolfeboro Casuals, Hampshire Pewter, Back Bay Clothing, The Art Place and many more.

The backdrop for Main Street is Lake Winnipesaukee. Picturesque town docks allow boating visitors from all points on the lake to enjoy downtown. On any day in the summer, you will see all types of boats lined up. Getting an ice cream at Bailey's Bubble on the docks is a long-standing tradition. The Wolfeboro Community Bandstand, located in Cate Park on the shores of the lake, provides music under the stars on Saturday evenings in the summer. At the Kingswood Arts Center, the nonprofit Great Waters Music Festival, founded in 1995 by Dr. Gerald Mack, brings together professional and amateur musicians and offers a varied program of musical styles. The award-winning Klickety-Klack Railroad is a model railroad and hobby shop. It has been featured in Yankee Magazine and WMUR-TV and has more than 70 trains that visitors can operate themselves. The Wright Museum of World War II received five star ratings and the 2015 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. For more than 20 years, this museum has impressed and moved visitors with its display of tanks, model aircraft carriers, exhibits about life in the military, and WWII paraphernalia. Wolfeboro Inn is an enchanting stay overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, and it delights its guests with a quintessential lodging experience. It also houses Wolfe's Tavern, which is one of the only authentic New England pubs in the Lakes Region.

For a small town in central New Hampshire, Wolfeboro has much to offer residents and visitors alike. Though Wolfeboro properties can certainly draw big numbers, particularly for the choicest waterfront locations, in reality the town is a place everyone can enjoy. In 2015, the average selling price for a home in Wolfeboro was $259,781. The former Kai-shek estate was situated on a stretch of shore that was redeveloped under the name Embassy Estates, which today is considered one of the best neighborhoods in Wolfeboro. Current homes for sale in this neighborhood range from $459,000 to nearly $5 million. As a point of interest, the estate President Sarkozy stayed in sold last year for $8,979,000. This 17,000-square-foot manor included a three-bay boat house, 7 acres, and 645 feet of shorefront.

As a real estate agent, I am constantly traveling along the same roads throughout the Lakes Region. A common phenomenon could occur if I let it: an indifference to the beauty surrounding me as I drift down the road. I could miss the expansive views of lakes and mountains, ever-changing foliage, quaint New England towns and homes, and glimpses of wildlife. The next time you travel along accustomed routes, remember to take the time to see the passing scenes through the eyes of an outsider – the Kai-sheks, Romneys, and the rest. You may have a change in your perspective of those familiar places.


Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, New Hampshire and can be reached at 366-6306. www.rocherealty.com.

 

 

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Sanborn — Christmas houses

There are many great movies that include Christmas as part of their story line. The homes that these stories take place in are integral to the plot and have become memorable themselves. One of the most famous homes is the Griswold's house in Christmas Vacation. This home looks like it could be on Edwards Street in Laconia but is actually located on Blondie Street in the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, California. The house has been used in a variety of films over the years and has been remodeled so many times that you would scarcely recognize it today.

Christmas Vacation celebrates Christmas and Chevy Chases's Clark Griswold quest to provide the perfect Christmas day in the perfectly decorated home. Clark and son Rusty spend day and night decorating the exterior of the home with thousands of lights only to find they won't work. Been there, done that? This hilarious movie provides many tips on decorating your home safely, solving electrical problems, proper ladder usage, cleaning ice out from gutters, removing drywall, and my favorite, doing fine trim work with a chainsaw. Clark, like many of us, overextends himself during the holidays by putting money down on an in-ground pool, only to find out that his stingy boss didn't give the usual big cash year-end bonus... alas, he was enrolled in the "Jelly of the Month" club instead.

Another wonderful story is set in a typical 1,792 square foot, four bedroom, two bath home at 3159 W11th St, in Cleveland Ohio. You might not recognize the address, but if you drove by the house and saw the stunning Leg Lamp in the front window, you would know that this is Ralphie's house from the 1983 movie Christmas Story. For those deprived souls that have never seen this movie – which seems nearly impossible – this is the story about the trials and tribulations of little nine year-old bespectacled Ralphie and his younger brother, Randy, growing up back in the 1940s in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana. More precisely, it is about Ralphie's goal of convincing the world – namely, his parents, his teacher, and Santa Claus – that a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle would be his perfect Christmas gift. Little brother Randy spends most of his time avoiding eating and falling into snowbanks. He always needs help getting up because he is stuffed in a snowsuit with too many clothes on and can hardly walk. Remember those days?

The story also touches on home maintenance. Ralphie's dad, known as Old Man Parker, has a long running battle with his coal furnace that keeps forming clinkers, rumbling and blowing back soot. He rushes to the basement, makes it two stairs, trips on some skates, and slides the rest of the way down causing a verbal assault against the malfunctioning furnace. As Ralphie puts it, "In the heat of battle, my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that, as far as we know, is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan." Perhaps a proper maintenance schedule would have been in order?

In the end, Ralphie does get the world's best Christmas present. He rushes outside for target practice wherein, predictably, the first shot ricochets back and hits his glasses, knocking them off. He panics thinking he has shot his eye out. He steps on his glasses and smashes them and then hysterically tells his mother that an icicle fell and hit him in the face. His biggest fear is that the Old Man will be mad at him and yell at him like he does at the furnace. Mom can see how distraught he is and helps cover for Ralphie with the Old Man. All is well. Noel, noel.

In December of 2004, the owner of The Red Rider Leg Lamp Company in San Diego and a lifelong fan of the film, Brian Jones, bought the house on eBay for $150,000. His company makes the replica Leg Lamp the Old Man had received as the "Major Award" from work. The previous owners had remodeled the home with modern windows and covered the original wood siding with blue vinyl siding. By watching the movie over and over, Jones was able to draw detailed plans and spent $240,000 to gut the structure and transform it to a near-replica of the movie set and restored the exterior back to the original appearance. The house is now a museum.

And, remember, home is where the holidays happen and memories are made. Other great Christmas homes from the flicks include the English cottage from 2006 film called the Holiday, with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, which was really just an exterior façade built in the English countryside. Then there is Chevy Chase's Cape Cod home in The Funny Farm, which was also filmed in 2006. This house is real and is located in Grafton, Vermont. And, of course, you have to acknowledge the stately brick Georgian colonial from the movie Home Alone located in Winnetka, Illinois. This 4,200 square foot, four bedroom home was built in 1920 and was put on the market back in 2011 for $2.5 million and after several years in the market, finally sold for $1.585 million.

So, whether you receive a Jelly of the Month Club subscription, a Leg Lamp or the coveted Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle, remember, it really is the thought that counts.

There were 88 residential home sales in the twelve Lakes Region communities covered by this report. The average price came in at $297,347 and the median price point stood at $189,950. That's well above the 67 sales last November so it looks like we are having a well-deserved finish to an already strong year. Merry Christmas!

P​ease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 12/17/15. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012

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Michael Barone - Americans have little faith in government

The Republican Party certainly has its problems: a chaotic presidential race; a despised congressional party; unpopularity among the rapidly growing number of non-whites.

But the Democratic Party has its problems as well. One of them is the fact that the two signature policies of Barack Obama — the Affordable Care Act and the nuclear agreement with Iran — are unpopular with most voters.

You heard little from the president about Obamacare or his approach to Iran during his 2012 re-election campaign. You've heard little about them from Democratic candidates for Congress in 2010, 2012 and 2014 or those running for next year.

It's also not clear that these policies would have been pursued in the same form if Hillary Clinton had been elected president in 2008. Would she have taken a mono-partisan approach to health care and hewn to it after the election of a Republican as senator from Massachusetts? Would she have banked so heavily on the notion that concessions could make Iran a friendlier power in the Middle East?

Maybe, maybe not. But as the certain Democratic nominee and as Obama's former secretary of state, she is saddled with them.

Richard Nixon in 1960, George H. W. Bush in 1988 and Al Gore in 2000 sought third presidential terms for their parties when their incumbent presidents had job approval well above 50 percent. Bush, after turbulent primaries, won a solid victory. Nixon and Gore, nominated with only brief opposition, lost by a hair.

Barack Obama's job approval is currently 44 percent, and Clinton, like Nixon and Gore, seems unlikely to undergo serious testing in the primaries and caucuses.

There is a larger problem here, not just for Clinton but also for her party. Since the 1930s it has been dedicated to the proposition that expanding government will help ordinary citizens make their way through the perils of (then) an industrial-age and (now) an information-age society.

The problem is that these seven years of the Obama administration, quite contrary to the president's intention, have discredited government as an instrument to improve people's lives.

The most glaring failure has been Obamacare, from the implosion of the healthcare.gov website to the recent announcement of the nation's largest health insurer that it would no longer offer policies on Obamacare's exchanges.

Designing government policies that can produce positive results without negative unanticipated consequences is a tricky business. Social Security required government to collect taxes and send out checks on time — something a competent bureaucracy can do. Obamacare requires government to do many more things, some of which government is not very good at. Voters have noticed.
They have noticed, as well, that government is no longer very good at doing things almost everyone thinks it should do, such as providing health care for military veterans. Democrats can argue that the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital system's problems antedate 2008. But government is their baby, and they've been in charge for seven years.

Last week's mass murders in San Bernardino have underlined government's limits. Obama and Clinton have called for more gun control measures. But California already has the laws they want Congress to pass. Overall trends in Pew Research Center polling data in the last 20 years show an increase in the percent of Americans who support gun rights and a decrease in the percent of Americans who support gun control.

A third problem for Democrats is apparent in the fact that near the end of multiple Democratic presidential terms, sizable forces in the party turn left. A few examples are: Henry Wallace's Progressives in 1948; the anti-Vietnam war movement in 1968; Edward Kennedy's challenge of Jimmy Carter in 1980; and Ralph Nader's third-party candidacy in 2000.

Similar things are happening today — in the Bernie Sanders candidacy, the Black Lives Matter movement and rebellions on college campuses. When the public has soured on Democratic policies, party rebels double down and demand more.

Republicans have faced similar discontent on the right, from Barry Goldwater in 1960, Ronald Reagan in 1976, Pat Buchanan in the 1990s and the tea party movement in the wake of George W. Bush's presidency.

But the problem is more acute for the Democratic Party, which has always been a coalition of disparate groups: the top and bottom of the income and education scales, ghetto blacks and gentry liberals, left-wing academics and labor unions.

Holding that coalition together is easier when faith in government is strong. It's harder today, when, as Pew reports, only 19 percent of Americans say they can trust the government all or most of the time. For Democrats, that's a big problem.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

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Lakes Region Profiles — Lifestyle finder for your move to or from the Lakes Region

By MARY O'NEIL

Sales associate at Roche Realty Group

 

Some studies place moving to a new location as one of the top ten most stressful situations in a person's life. Whether it makes the top ten list or not, no one would question that moving to a new state, city, or town is stressful. Books and other sources give a myriad of advice on how to lower the stress factor of a life-changing move. One piece of advice that ranks high, if not first, on the advice scale is researching before you relocate. The Lifestyle Finder can make the research process easier. This new program is now available free on the Roche Realty Group website and gives a vast amount of information on cities and towns throughout the US. For information on everything from average home values to finding a local coffee shop. If you are moving to or from the Lakes Region, this tool is invaluable.

Let's say you are planning a move to Florida. You are considering several cities including Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Sarasota, Stuart, and Daytona. Within seconds you can have information on each place to help in the decision process: population, average income, average age, gender ratio, number of households, percentage with children, property ownership and rental percentage, education levels, crime rate, age breakdown, annual precipitation, analysis of employment fields, cost index of goods and services, details on the school systems including information on all the public and private schools, enrollment and demographics. The Lifestyle Finder will also give you information on some of the businesses in and around the town or city. If a local hospital, golf course or your favorite store is a must in the criteria for relocation, the program will give you a good start on some of these details. Information on parks, sports facilities, medical services, hotels, transportation, places of worship, restaurants and shopping is embedded in the program.

The Lifestyle Finder also allows you to do a comparison of communities. As an example, in seconds you can compare the statistics for Miami and Stuart with regard to population, average income, average age, gender, education, employment, weather, average home value, housing inventory and other factors. The data provided under buying power alerts you to the fact that goods and services in Stuart are 36 percent more expensive than in Miami. On the other hand, the 2015 average home value in Stuart is $242,010 as compared to $317,070 in Miami.

If you are moving into the Lakes Region, you can use the Lifestyle Finder to compare the different towns of interest. For instance, if you know you want to live near Lake Winnipesaukee, but you are not sure what side of the lake you want to be on, you could compare the towns of Meredith and Wolfeboro. When you put these two towns into the Lifestyle Finder, you will see they are similar in many considerations including population size, average income and average age. Wolfeboro is slightly larger at 60 square miles versus Meredith's 49 square miles. The average home value in Meredith is $286,413 and in Wolfeboro it is $296,748. According to the cost index, goods and services are 2 percent more expensive in Wolfeboro. Based on these factors, a person relocating to the area can focus on other parameters to determine which town he or she prefers.

One of the most valuable features of this tool is the search mode on home sale prices. It is important to have some idea of what your dollar can buy in prospective relocation areas. Lifestyle Finder will provide you with profiles on recent home sales and price trends specific to the city or town you are searching. In seconds, you can find average sale prices in the U.S. ranging anywhere from the most to least expensive. You might think that the famous postal zip code 90210 (Beverly Hills) has the highest sale prices for homes. This year's average sale price certainly was high at $3,628,109, but even higher was Atherton, California at $6,950,880. On the other end of the spectrum, the average sale price of a home in Flint, Michigan was $35,121 in 2015.

Whether you are considering a move to the Lakes Region or relocating from the area to another part of the country, you can use the Lifestyle Finder tool to facilitate the process and lower the stress factor. In an article entitled "How to Handle a Move," written for the magazine Experience Life, author Jon Spayde quotes the psychologist and psychotherapist Elizabeth Stirling, PhD. She states that the number one barrier to overcome when relocating is fear of the unknown. Stirling points out that it is "natural to worry about the unforeseeable — what this new place will be like...any major change brings unpredictability, which is unsettling." Her number one solution to combat this? Research. The Lifestyle Finder instantly and easily takes you from uncertainty to a place of knowing – a perspective that helps eliminate the stress of relocating.

The old expression, "Knowledge is power" is usually attributed to Francis Bacon. Yet, Thomas Jefferson valued the wisdom of this statement and used it on multiple occasions. In correspondence to George Ticknor in 1817, Jefferson wrote that he hoped people would, "possess information enough to perceive the important truths, that knowledge is power, that knowledge is safety, and that knowledge is happiness." I would add that knowledge is peace of mind when it comes to relocating.

To access the Lifestyle Finder, go to www.rocherealty.com. Halfway down you will see the words "Lifestyle Finder." Click on this and you are on your way to exploring thousands of cities and towns. If you have any questions, call any of the Roche agents and they will be happy to assist you in utilizing the Lifestyle Finder.

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 366-6306. www.rocherealty.com

 

 

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Pat Buchanan - U.S. & France turn right

In Sunday's first-round of regional elections in France, the clear and stunning winner was the National Front of Marine Le Pen. Her party rolled up 30 percent of the vote, and came in first in 6 of 13 regions. Marine herself won 40 percent of her northeast district.

Despite tremendous and positive publicity from his presidential role in the Charlie Hebdo and Paris massacres and the climate summit, Francois Hollande's Socialist Party ran third.

What drove the victory of the National Front?

According to The Wall Street Journal's William Horobin, "Ms. Le Pen, who has combined the party's anti-immigration stance with calls for hard-line security measures and tighter control of France's borders, has only bolstered her support in the three weeks since the Paris attacks."

The rightward shift in French politics is being replicated across Europe, as nations tighten borders and erect new checkpoints against the tsunami of migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Angela Merkel and open borders are yesterday in Europe; Marine Le Pen is tomorrow.

And the rightward shift is occurring here as well, propelled by the terrorist atrocity in San Bernardino. On immigration, terrorism, borders, crime and security, Americans are moving to the right.

Donald Trump has taken the toughest stance. He will send illegal immigrants back and make Mexico pay for his wall. He is the least restrained in what he would do to the Islamic State. And his lead nationally has now reached an unprecedented 20 points.

In Iowa, Sen. Ted Cruz is surging. Cruz would "carpet bomb (ISIS) into oblivion," and try to make the sand around Raqqa "glow in the dark." He charges Marco Rubio with collaborating with Sen. Chuck Schumer in backing amnesty for illegal immigrants.

In return, Rubio tears into Cruz daily, charging him with being soft on national security for having backed the USA Freedom Act that denies the NSA instant access to all phone and computer records of American citizens. Like most Republicans, Cruz supported keeping NSA's hands off the metadata of electronic communications of U.S. citizens. But that position seems more suited to the libertarian moment that has passed, not the national security moment we live in today.

Chris Christie says San Bernardino proves his point about keeping refugee wives and even 3-year-old orphans out of New Jersey. As we now know, that female terrorist may have been the radicalizer.
The Clintons have long been reliable weather vanes of national politics. And Hillary Clinton, too, has begun moving to the right. Sunday, she said she was ready to take "military action" if Iran fails to comply with the slightest provision of President Obama's nuclear agreement.

She wants tech companies to start policing and shutting down Islamist websites that preach hate and may have radicalized the couple that carried out San Bernardino. Clinton added dismissively, "You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: 'freedom of speech.'"

Monday's Washington Post reported on how Bernie Sanders, yesterday's Socialist sensation, received a tepid response when he spoke to a crowd about income equality, but failed to address the Islamist terrorist atrocity and what he would do about it.

Last week, The New York Times ran its first front-page editorial in 95 years, demanding new federal gun laws. America's response — a stampede to gun stores to buy firearms for self-defense.

Outlawing AK-47s and AR-15s may seem like common sense to the Times. But Americans do not believe such laws would keep terrorists from getting these weapons. And many realize those cops used semi-automatic rifles to turn the terrorists' SUV into a pile of junk in a single minute — and them into Bonnie and Clyde.

Even the president is signaling a shift to the right.

Sunday, in only his third Oval Office address, Obama said he will intensify bombing in Iraq and Syria. He wants tougher screening of those coming to America. And he concedes that "an extremist ideology has spread among some Muslim communities" and is a "real problem Muslims must confront."

Tougher on crime, tougher on terrorists, tougher on securing the border — that is the demand of the moment, and probably of 2016.

Americans are coming to realize we cannot prevent all such slaughters as Ford Hood and Virginia Tech, Columbine and Aurora, Tucson and the Navy Yard, Newtown and Umpqua College, and Charleston.

Nor can we prevent all Islamist terrorism if Muslims raised here or living here become radicalized in mosques or by the Internet, and seek revenge and paradise as warriors of ISIS by slaughtering Americans.

Al-Qaida and ISIS now realize the worldwide publicity gains of Paris and San Bernardino in terrorizing the West. And they will surely seek to replicate those massacres.

And every new atrocity, whether of the work place or Islamist variety, will make cops more popular and guns seem more essential.

New horrors are likely ahead — that will continue America's turn to the right.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

 

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