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Let's at least give Kimball Castle the respect to die of old age

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Many of these thoughts of Kimball Castle are from childhood stories from Mrs. Lorraine Royce (resident since 1937), who was Town Clerk starting in the 60s. She took and kept all the minutes of the selectmen's meetings and countless Town Meetings. She told of a beautiful building with tapestries and wood carvings and her tours through it with other town officials as they sought to preserve it. It was originally given to a trust to manage and a groundskeeper/watchman was hired to maintain it. He was unsupervised and paid by the trust. He allegedly drank the money and maintained nothing but the building he lived in. And, to be fair, he did not have knowledge or training in masonry. The roof leaked, the wood and tapestries rotted, the grounds were ignored and trees and weeds destroyed the beautiful English tea gardens, the steps to the lake were overgrown, and decay set in. When the money ran out, the castle was returned to the town. Other groundskeepers were hired, but they mainly kept trespassers out.

I never had a chance to visit/tour the castle, but my children and many others sneaked in and described how beautiful it was. Back in the 70s - 80s I was a reporter for the Laconia Citizen and sat in on the selectmen's meetings. I remember when a master mason offered to have his class completely restore the castle labor-free if the Ttwn would buy the materials. Others offered to work on the gardens. Time and again people would come in with ideas of how to save or use or run the castle such as restaurant, bed and breakfast, inn, lodge, bar, lounge, etc. but each time the town attorney, Arthur Nighswander, would find a reason that it could not be done and the selectmen followed his advice. Tours were cancelled and refused. It has always been my own private opinion that Mr. Nighswander did not want anything done with the castle out of fear that it would become a "problem", such as exists with the King's Grant Inn, i.e. late night music, noise, traffic, illegal activities, gambling, drunkenness, etc. Mr. Nighswander lived on the access road to the castle.

I was there when the grounds were divided by court decree to preserve 300 acres for hiking trails and keep only a small portion around the castle.

This will be the saddest moment in the history of this town if that castle is destroyed. Let's at least give it the respect to die of old age and let it crumble to dust on its own.

Joanne Royce McNulty
Gilford resident since 1945