Thank you to our volunteers
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 4/20/2021
Castle Preservation Society (CPS) would like to thank all of our volunteers for their time, contributions, and support. In 2020, they donated over 1,500 hours of their precious time to assist CPS in making Castle in the Clouds as safe, beautiful, and enjoyable as possible. Our volunteers helped us with everything from painting buildings, gardening, answering phones, office organization, visitor services, greeting guests, executing programs, answering questions, interpreting the Castle, and overall ensuring our guests have a fantastic experience at Castle in the Clouds.
We truly appreciate your efforts, and cannot thank you enough for your time. We hope you will continue to support Castle in the Clouds in the future.
If you are interested in volunteering with us, please follow this link to fill out an application.
Everyone knows that shoes can make an outfit, and that quality shoes can offer comfort and support – these are not mutually exclusive though. Tom Plant made his millions working in shoe sales and manufacturing between the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s rumored that when he was a door to door shoe salesman in his early 20s, he’d ask housewives what they wanted in their shoes. After acquiring seed money to start Thomas G. Plant Manufacturing, Tom implemented these customer desires and created a shoe that was high quality, long lasting, fashionable, supportive and priced mid-range. Branded as Dorothy Dodd and Queen’s Quality, Tom’s shoes sold between $2-3.00 (about $75 today). The key to making them last a lifetime would be to repair them as necessary.
While many would argue that things were built to last and individuals lived a life “less throwaway” in the late 19th century – there are still ways that we can upgrade the quality of our shoe purchases, and make our shoes last a bit longer. Daub’s Cobbler Shop in Laconia is the premier shoe repair location not just for New Hampshire, but within the entire New England region. They work to repair shoes, increase the shoes’ value and add comfort and quality to shoes.
Do you have a favorite pair of shoes and do you think they’d last you a lifetime?
Father and son duo, Jim and Nate Daubenspeck of Daub’s Cobbler Shop will be speaking at our gallery reception on Sunday June 7th, and will be giving a live demonstration later in our 2020 season.
Castle in the Cloud’s will be hosting a reception in celebration of our new gallery exhibit “The Shoes the Built the Castle” on Sunday June 7, 2020 from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm in The Carriage House. This event is free to attend for members and $10 per person if not a member.
THIS EVENT HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED DUE TO THE CASTLE’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19, THIS EVENT IS NOW: SUNDAY JULY 12 AT 5:30 PM.
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 3/17/2020
This winter and spring seasons have brought tremendous change to the Castle Preservation Society staff. In addition to adjusting to working from home and practicing social distancing, the Castle has welcomed several new staff members and is saying a heartfelt goodbye to a long-time employee.
Lynne Walsh is our new Volunteer Coordinator – drawing from her experience as a volunteer docent with the Castle last year, and a volunteer with Lakes Region Conservation Trust, she is ready to work arm in arm with the volunteers to make sure events are staffed, guests are welcomed and our mission is supported.
Debbi Finkelstein is our new Director of Visitor Experience – under her purview is the museum experience, gift shop management, ticket sales and public programming. Coming from a background in theater, education and development – she is excited to explore her passion for history and enhance our visitor experience.
Jill Cromwell has been with Castle Preservation Society for 11 ½ years – she’s worked diligently to raise funds, coordinate sponsors, foster relationships throughout the community, and plan some of our annual fundraising events including, but not limited to: Chili & Beer Tasting, our Summer Gala, and the Christmas at the Castle Preview Party. In her retirement, Jill is excited to take this time to continue to enjoy exploring the region, traveling abroad, and spending time with her family. We are very sad to see her go, but wish her the best in her adventures!
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 4/21/2020
In 2001, Tom Curren, Executive Director of Lakes Region Conservation Trust (LRCT) presented at their April Board meeting a Purchase and Sale Agreement to buy the Castle in the Clouds and its surrounding 5,300 acres for $5,900,000. After a long discussion about the lack of a fundraising Feasibility Study, the board approved the motion, adding, “Ann, of course, you’ll lead the fundraising!”
Ann Hackl had never fundraised a dime in her life, but an active member of the Lakes Region Community and a 30-year veteran of real estate sales she was suddenly thrust into the world of nonprofit development. As she reached out to individuals and businesses in the community, she realized there are many similarities between real estate sales and fundraising – you meet a relative stranger, establish rapport, focus on their priorities and interests, explain how your project relates to these interests, answer questions, and then ask for their help, usually a specific amount.
<< Castle Preservation Society Founders (left to right): Donald O. McLeod, Bob Stewart, Ann Hackl, and James Stoddard.
LRCT and J. Paul Sticht were scheduled to close on the sale of Castle in the Clouds on December 15, 2001. $3.2 million was due at closing, with $2,000,000 due in December 2002 and the final payment of $700,000 due December 2003. LRCT was fundraising until the very last moment. Fortunately the closing was delayed (a survey issue) until January by which time sufficient funding was secured! To make matters even more tense, LRCT was told there was a back-up offer for more money (J.Paul sticht, long a supporter of the LRCT, had given LRCT a price substantially below the property’s appraised value). After the final payment was made, the LRCT assumed the management of the Castle of the Clouds, Sticht having retained management responsibility during LRCT’s three-year fundraising period.
Ann found support from over 2,000 individuals who donated to the purchase of the Castle, some donating upwards of $100,000. She built relationships throughout the community, essentially going door to door, sitting in living rooms and pleading the case of preserving this extraordinary property for many generations of the public to enjoy. As a member of Bald Peak Colony Club she got to know many members and their families. Bald Peak and the Castle have been linked from the beginning, both having been built by Tom Plant. Bald Peak members played a pivotal role in the purchase of the Castle, both because of the historic connection between the properties and the fact that they did not want to see their view of the mountain destroyed by a developer.
At the time Ann and her fundraising colleagues never considered failure as an option. It is only now, years later, that Ann allows herself to image what might have happened and ask herself “how did we have the nerve to do that”? To this day she is still grateful and in awe of the people of all walks of life who stepped up to the challenge of preserving for posterity this remarkable community asset that is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places with the notation that it is “of National Significance”.
Ann’s story and involvement with the Castle will be continued in next months’ installment of Chronicles of the Castle: Community.
Do you remember this transitional time when Ann and LRCT were fundraising to save the Castle?
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 5/12/2020
Continued from May’s Blog reviewing Ann and Lakes Region Conservation Trust‘ (LRCT) fundraising to buy the Castle from J. Paul Sticht.
LRCT officially took over the management of Castle in the Clouds after its final payment in Dec. 2003. 2004 was the first full season that LRCT managed and it was a steep learning curve. By the end of the 2005 season LRCT realized they were in trouble and that as a land trust they had no business running a business. To sell or lease the property would betray the public that had supported its purchase. The only acceptable option was for the LRCT to gift the property to a nonprofit. Calls were made to the Currier Museum of Art and Historic New England but neither organization was interested in the property and its debts (the latter entity might be interested with an endowment of $10 million). Facing these facts, Ann and her co-fundraiser Don McLeod from Bald Peak, decided that the already existing LRCT Castle advisory committee should morph into an independent non-profit and assume the management/ ownership of the historic buildings and the business, including restoration responsibilities.
In February of 2006 the LRCT tentatively approved this proposal and the Castle Preservation Society (CPS) was born (although it was not until November of 2006 that the IRS approved the mountains of paperwork prepared “pro bono” by Christophe Courchesne of Goodwin-Proctor of Boston). Ann resigned from the board of LRCT to head CPS, forming a new Board of Directors with specific relevant business skills. Jane Nylander was Vice-Chair (a lifetime in curatorial work, she headed SPNEA, now Historic New England, from 1993 to 2002). Bob Stewart was Treasurer (financial executive for a division of General Electric, Treasurer Great Waters Music Festival). Jay Williams was Secretary (marketing expert and entrepreneur owning radio stations). Don McLeod (founded/owner of a packaging company, Bald Peak member, and Ann’s co-fundraiser for Castle purchase). Lyn Seley (owner of Woodshed restaurant for many years). Jim Stoddard (Senior V.P. Fidelity Investments’ Data Processing Division). Jen Lucic (owner public relations firm, fundraising for Capital Center for the Arts, Concord). Bea Edgar (SPNEA, now Historic New England, Program Chair, Strawberry Banke Museum Advisory Board, knowledgeable/talented gardener).
The newly formed CPS Board faced a business in free-fall, with neglected equipment and customers, and an entrenched staff resentful of change. The new CPS Board brought their expertise to bear on the situation, slowly beginning to understand the scope of the problems and to make the changes needed to turn things around. One thing was clear: people didn’t even think the Castle was open anymore! So the 2007 season was filled with high profile programming to announce that the Castle was alive and well and there to stay. The restaurant was transformed into a gourmet destination. The art Gallery was created from part of the restaurant, a space exhibiting three to four shows each season. Lucknow was launched to be reinterpreted and restored according to meticulous research. The community was welcomed and they responded with volunteers who transformed the gardens, manned the Gallery, and as docents assisted guests in Lucknow.
But while CPS was managing and raising restoration funds, they still did not have title to the property. The LRCT, relieved of the financial burden of the Castle, began to believe that any transfer of title should be subject to a permanent conservation easement which would restrict any new buildings or enlargement of existing buildings, and prohibit horses from using the trails. However, CPS buildings included a 30 stall horse barn and some expansion over the years would surely be needed to accommodate business growth. It took four years for CPS and LRCT to resolve this problem. In the final easement document, horses are provisionally allowed on some trails and the non-historic buildings are allowed a percentage expansion of their footprint (or combined footprints). Also a field pavilion and an 18,000 s.f. lodging facility may be constructed (hopefully the business will always succeed without such a need, but the future is unpredictable and must be protected). On May 12, 2010 CPS took title to 135 operational acres with all buildings included and a R.O.W. up the entrance road linking the 7 acres at its entrance and the 128 upper acres that are the hub of the Castle operation. With this issue resolved, LRCT and CPS, now jointly steward this remarkable New Hampshire resource, each non-profit doing what they do best – conservation/recreation and preservation/restoration – to ensure the best possible outcome for the Castle and its fans!
In addition to being a member of the Castle’s Founder’s Society, Ann is still actively involved in the Castle community as Chair of the Development Committee and member of the Curatorial Committee.
We are sincerely thankful to Ann for all of her involvement with the Castle over the past 20 years! Have you had the opportunity to meet or work with Ann?
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 6/19/2020
We’d like to take a moment and highlight a few volunteers and staff members who have gone above and beyond to make this year’s Castle experience as wonderful as possible.
Mary not only volunteers in our office, managing the phones and working on marketing data projects, but she participated in our Volunteer Clean Up Day and lend her hand updating the paint on the Café in the Clouds building.
Nate has proved himself invaluable to Castle in the Clouds. You may have seen him in previous years driving you to or from the Castle on the trolley but this year he’s been working in the gift shop and ticketing office. He spent many days here before we opened to the public relocating our gift shop into the Carriage House stalls, and helping Debbi set up the new point of sale systems.
Jessica has also stood out – as a new employee working in the gift shop and ticketing office. Jessica spent many days helping Debbi set everything up, unpack the gift shop, organize inventory and so on. She showed up early nearly every day and was ready to work! She often volunteered to pick up shifts to make sure our visitor experience was running smoothly.
Have you seen the stunning gardens that surround Lucknow Mansion? Have you witnessed Gretchen working to keep the grounds pristine? This week’s Community themed blog post is highlighting esteemed gardener, Gretchen Large! I talked with Gretchen earlier this month for insight on how she became the legendary gardener she is, as well as her alter ego Seed-X who has the power of germination, and if she has any advice for a black-thumb like me.
Gretchen describes her start in horticulture as a lifelong interest that transformed from hobby to career when a life-altering event turned her to the garden. Often holding jobs that were customer service based for the insurance and benefits, she maintained gardening as a hobby throughout most of her life. She turned to gardening full time for the sense of solace it provides (and when flowers give her grief they’re turned to the compost!).
Gardening is about learning from mistakes and being imaginative. Some of the most potent advice she learned as a child was: “plants will tell you when you’re doing it right,” you cannot change the environment and you have to give them a fighting chance to grow but at the end of the day it comes down to the “4Gs: Get growing or get gone!” Plants will bloom differently based on where and when they’re planted – even having a dramatically different blooming schedules between her house and the Castle. And the Castle offers additional challenges including being in full sun and having constant (sometimes high) winds. The gardens at Lucknow need to be sturdy, resilient, forgiving with watering, match the colors of surrounding plants, mirror historic landscapes, and always be pristine. This proves to be challenging in the planning and coordination to ensure the gardens are full, luxurious, and always in bloom.
Seed-X makes her appearance regularly in elementary schools to educate kids on germination, and plant growth. This year she was unable to appear due to COVID-19 but will hopefully be making an appearance soon!
Gretchen’s advice to novice gardeners:
- Start small
- Spend 90% of the budget on cultivating good soil, then 10% on the flowers since nothing will survive if the soil is not healthy
- Look at your neighbors’ gardens to see what works in your area
- Review UNH’s co-op extension for information – take classes if possible!
- Support your local gardeners and growers
- Be careful about the pesticides you use!
*We certainly owe Gretchen our gratitude for her hard work to keep the Castle’s immediate grounds looking beautiful but she is the first to say that the Castle’s volunteer gardeners deserve a shout out as well (and we couldn’t agree more). They do a phenomenal job maintaining many of the other gardens on the property, including those around the Carriage House. So let us take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to the many volunteer gardeners who share their time and expertise with us!
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 8/18/2020
Our volunteer docents are pivotal to the museum experience, passionately engaging with guests to share the history of the Castle and the stories of Lucknow. Docents are expected to support the museum by educating guests, working as a team with guides and fellow staff, and protecting the collections of the Castle. Some of our key volunteers up at the Castle are:
- George & Barbara Maidoff
- Robert “Bob” Simmonds
- Meredith Stanley
- Barbara Brash
- Kathleen James
- Miller Krauss
- Nancy Gaver
- Judy LeBranche
A big thank you to not only the volunteer docents but all of the Castle Preservation Society volunteers for making the Castle experience run so smoothly!
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 9/15/2020
Have you seen the quilt hanging in our lobby? You can purchase raffle tickets to bring it home! Below is a note from quilter Renie MacArthur about her creative process and thoughts in creating this beautiful blanket:
When thinking about quilts we usually think of chilly New England Winters. But when I think of quilts I am thinking of my next project, beautiful colors, striking designs and fabric texture. The colors in this quilt pattern called “Harvest” came from my Batik fabric collection, the design reminded me of a garden of tulips and so the process began. It was exciting to see it come together and once it had been professionally machine quilted I knew it was special.
I had heard about the wonderful restoration projects of the Castle in the Clouds from my neighbor and the unfortunate setbacks due to the global pandemic. The Castle needed help.
Donating quilts in the past, selling tickets as a fund raiser worked… I wanted to help… I was delighted to help. We all have hope for the future and if we can help each other through this difficult time… then we ALL win.
Thank you for your interest and support.
Renie MacArthur, Hanover, NH
You can purchase raffle tickets in person in our gift shop, one for $5 or three for $10. It’s the perfect quilt to curl up with this fall and winter or could be the ideal gift this holiday season!
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 9/29/2020
This season was one like no other. With the arrival of COVID-19, and it’s ongoing effects on business our staff worked endlessly to ensure a wonderful experience for our guests! Our seasonal staff touches every faucet of the visitor experience from answering phones and greeting guests, to running our gift shop and ticketing office, assisting at Cafe in the Clouds, driving our trolleys, and interpreting the Castle as tour guides.
Our operation and experience would not be the same without each of our team members and our volunteers – thank you!
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 10/20/2020
As we mentioned in last week’s post about how Thanksgiving may have been celebrated at the Castle, mashed potatoes are a common side dish during the holiday. Here is a dressed up potato recipe for you to try:
Princess Potatoes 
3 cups ½ inch potato cubes
½ teaspoon vegetable or olive oil
1 cup of white sauce (2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp flour, 1 cup of milk, salt and pepper)
1 teaspoon of beef extract 
½ tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon butter
Fry potato cubes until delicately browned and drain on brown paper. Make white sauce of two tablespoons of butter, two tablespoons flour, one cup of milk, seasoned with salt and pepper. Add beef extract, lemon juice, parsley and butter, bit by bit; then add potatoes. Serve at once.
 Recipe is from A New Book of Cookery by Fannie Merritt Farmer (Boston, 1912). This book is a prop in the Castle archives – it was on display during the 2020 season.
 Bouillon cubes can be used as a substitute.
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 11/17/2020
Anyone else a foodie? As a foodie and an obsessive planner, I spend outrageous amounts of time planning holiday meals (for instance in a non-quarantine year, I would start planning Christmas dinner in October). Some aspects of the meal are based on familial tradition, like the turkey on Thanksgiving or having a roast beef and béarnaise sauce on Christmas but for other pieces, like side dishes and desserts I like to play around on Pinterest, look through cookbooks and take inspiration from our travels.
This week, I’d like to share with you some traditional Christmas foods that were popular in the 1920s (the period that we interpret Lucknow as). We don’t have the diary of Tom or Olive so these menus and recipes are based on general traditions of the time.
A traditional Christmas meal for a middle class family would include plum pudding, a fruit cake, and a roasted chicken. Dessert would be an assortment of cakes and cookies, and stockings would be filled with apples, oranges, walnuts, candy canes and raisins. Perhaps as a special treat, champagne would be served with the meal!
A wealthier family may celebrate Christmas with deviled eggs, shrimp cocktail, cheese boards, olive and seafood platters, spiced ham, roasted nuts (enter singing voice “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”), salmon mousse, Waldorf salad, turkey and gingerbread. Cocktails made from champagne and gin would be a common pairing with this meal.
Since Tom was raised in a French Canadian family, perhaps he and Olive celebrated “réveillon”. This French tradition dates back to the 1700s. After attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve, families would return home and feast until dawn. Food was the main focus of this celebration, and the menu often included tourtière (a meat pie), ragout de boulettes (meatballs in brown gravy), les pattes de porc (pigs’ feet), and potatoes. Dessert was often a homemade, jam-filled donut or a bûche de Noël. At réveillon, men would indulge in a hard liquor drink like rum or whiskey and women would have sweet wine or a higher quality French wine if it were available to them.
Enjoy some recipes for the foods mentioned above, linked below – maybe you can try something new this holiday season! What’re you planning on cooking up?
Jazzy Gelatin (for your Jell-O mold!)
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 12/15/2020
Our communities are expanding as technological advances make global shopping accessible. Tom and Olive may have decorated Lucknow Mansion with trinkets and artwork collected on their travels abroad, but generally, in the early 1900s, there was an emphasis on the locality that has shifted over the last century.
So, what is buying local? Let’s start with determining what “local” is. For some people or even specific goods you’re looking to purchase, local can mean your direct community or town. For other people or sought-after goods, local can mean something that is produced or offered within your state or your region. For example, I live in Concord, New Hampshire – I try to buy my food at Concord-based farmer’s markets or the Co-op and I try to shop for most of my clothes at Concord boutiques. Because I work at Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, NH, I also consider Moultonborough to be part of my local community and I patron coffee shops and restaurants in that area as well. If I’m looking to visit museums or cultural institutions, I may consider the entire New England region as part of the local community. Really, defining local is a personal endeavor for you and your family to decide on.
You’ve determined what buying local means to you – now let’s discuss why buying local is important. You may have even heard the saying before that “when you buy from a local store or restaurant, an actual person does a little happy dance”. As the markets and economies grow to a global level with internet and e-commerce, it’s important to still support your local mom and pop shops, as well as the larger local organizations. Independent We Stand names the statistic that for every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 will stay in the community. Conversely, when you spend $100 at a national chain, only $43 stays in the community. Especially if you are buying items that are produced or manufactured in the local area, supporting these businesses creates more local job opportunities and the continued support can translate to better paying local jobs. The community as a whole gains revenue as money is invested and city/town taxes are reinvested in the community which supports infrastructure like snow removal and road work, as well as municipal jobs like our firefighters, first responders, and police officers.
Buying local is can be more sustainable for the environment. Food and goods will have to travel less distance in order to get to you, the consumer. You can support this by shopping at your local farmer’s markets, co-operative groceries, and the little shops and boutiques that make your community unique. The Green Business Bureau outlines the extensive things to consider that would make buying local environmentally sustainable compared to supporting larger farms and food sources including the types of energy used in farming techniques.
When you buy local, you have more buying power. Where you shop can send a message, by shopping at a local business you are showing that you support their organization, their mission, and the quality of their offerings. If you do not agree with the quality offered, then you have the option to shop elsewhere. It’s been my experience that the quality of clothes and food offered locally is better than comparable purchases at (inter)national retailers.
Finally, when you shop local you are working to make valuable connections within the community. You are building a personal network with local business owners, and supporting those that make your community unique. These business owners are the ones that sponsor the local sports teams and buy into school fundraisers. They can define aspects of your local community which may actually be what drew you to the area initially.
One of the biggest reasons people don’t shop locally is they believe the goods cost more at a local retailer than they do at big chain stores. This is true for some items, but largely I’ve found the costs to be comparable. If I were to buy wine at Lulu’s Wine & Cheese or at Wine on Main, the prices are very similar to those at the Liquor Store. When I buy cheese at the farmer’s market, it’s only a dollar or two more expensive than at the chain grocery stores, but I know it was made using locally sourced dairy and was recently hand-made. So for me, the quality and locality are worth the extra costs. Everyone’s budgets are different, but if you add in a few local businesses when you shop around for the best deal you might be surprised at what you find.
Big retailers have bigger budgets for marketing and signage, and with this, they may be the first that comes to mind when you’re seeking a product… Amazon anyone? Shopping local takes a more conscious effort to consider them over a larger retailer. To this point, they may not have the same accessibility as larger retailers. They may not be just off the highway or on your way home. They may not have two-day shipping or even a website to order from. It often takes the extra effort of calling or visiting in person to make your purchase when choosing to shop in your community.
And now that it’s winter and outside dining in New England is limited, COVID-19 regulations are proving to be another barrier to supporting local businesses and restaurants. Below you can see some ways that you can support local business:
- Shop local, in person, or online.
- Compare local retailer prices when seeking goods.
- Chose a local restaurant for take-out / delivery.
- Buy gift cards for local restaurants and stores.
- Like/Share/Comment on social media posts and pages.
- Donations of money, time, or resources.
Castle in the Clouds aims to support local businesses and our local community whenever we can – whether it’s for the production of graphics or pairing with a local company to host an event on our property. We recognize and value the support the community has given us over the year through visitation, donation, sponsorship, program attendance, and recommending our property to friends, families, and peers. We appreciate your ongoing support!
How are you choosing to support your community? How can we support you?
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 1/19/2021
Last month, we discussed the importance of supporting small businesses and your local community. Today, we would like to highlight and celebrate some of the relationships we have within the greater Lakes Region Community! Below you’ll find some of our sponsors, community partners, and go-to vendors in the community along with a short bio of each organization.
Eastern Propane (Year-Round Presenting Sponsor) – “Eastern is a full-service propane and oil company serving New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. By using the best delivery technology available and providing 24/7/365 service, Eastern is always there when you need us for both propane and oil. Family-owned for more than 85 years, Eastern is committed to helping families like yours make energy choices that are safe for your family or business.”
Miracle Farms (Year-Round Presenting Sponsor) – “From our office team to our managers, to everyone in the field, we are a team that shares the vision. We work hard to build successful working relationships, capitalizing on strengths that allow us to commit to doing the very best for our clients at all times. What does this mean for you? It means the best quality, design, service and prices. Period.”
Crooker Consulting (Sponsor) – “I founded Crooker Consulting in 2015 after experiencing the power of philanthropy first-hand working in various organizations, raising millions to address issues of hunger and homelessness, find cures to cancer and heart disease, and educate our next generation of leaders. With decades of successful development work behind me, and the joy I find in helping organizations make significant and sustainable change, I know without a doubt this is my life’s calling. I am trained in the best practices of major gift fundraising inside large capital campaigns and specialize in using my creative abilities to bring those vital tools to small and mid-sized organizations that are often operating with small staffs and limited budgets.”
Infinger Insurance (Sponsor) – “Infinger Insurance is a family owned, independent insurance agency. We provide Home, Auto, Business and Life insurance products to businesses and individuals throughout New Hampshire and Maine. With offices in North Conway, New Hampshire and Norway, Maine our family and professional staff have the expertise to meet all your insurance needs.”
Leone, McDonnell & Roberts (Sponsor) – “In a world of numbers and bottom line solutions, it’s easy to overlook that success in business is really about relationships. At Leone, McDonnell & Roberts, Professional Association, we’re proud to have many long-standing clients. Our partners have instilled in the firm a culture of service. Recognizing that sometimes it’s not what you say, but what you hear. Listening and understanding the people behind the numbers.”
Great Waters (Program Host – “Concerts in the Clouds”) – “In the early years, Home for Great Waters was a beautiful 800 person capacity tent on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. It stood proudly for ten seasons, welcoming performing artists and guests from July through August. Artists and audience all agreed that there was no other “magical” experience like it anywhere in the Lakes Region of NH. But as time took its toll on the tent, and it was clear it needed to be replaced, the organization moved in a new direction and opted for other more affordable venue options like the Kingswood Performing Arts Center and other local venues, including The Barn at the Inn and Anderson Hall.”
Wayfarer Coffee Roasters (Program Host – “Coffee at the Castle”) – “Wayfarer Coffee Roasters is located in Laconia, NH. Our vision is to bring quality, ethically sourced, specialty coffee to our growing community in the Lakes Region. We roast all of our coffee in our downtown cafe that we opened 5 years ago. Our 2nd cafe opened in July of 2020 featuring an expanded food menu that allows us to showcase even more local products on our wild sourdough toasts and sandwiches.”
Moultonborough Recreation (Program Host) – “The mission of the Moultonborough Recreation Department is to provide high quality programs and facilities that offer a range of healthy recreation and leisure activities to community members of all ages.”
Lakes Region Conservation Trust (LRCT) (Property management and program host) – “The Lakes Region Conservation Trust (LRCT) was founded in 1979 to preserve these special places — by saving scenic landscapes and precious wildlife habitats, by conserving mountain summits and undeveloped shorelines and other places, by providing recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities, and by protecting the character of a rural region that lies just a few hours away from the great metropolitan areas of the Northeast.”
Lakes Region Computer (Helping us with all tech needs) – “During our 23 years in business, we have seen many new businesses join us in the Lakes Region. Throughout the years, our goal has remained the same: to assist growing businesses by providing excellent service and technologies to help them focus on what they do best. You can find us assisting businesses all over the region and beyond.”
And over the past few years, we’ve had the honor of working with:
Are you interested in pairing with Castle in the Clouds for sponsorship or hosting a program? We welcome all opportunities to support our local community. To learn about sponsorship opportunities please contact our Executive Director, Charles Clark. To have a discussion about partnering with us to host a program please contact our Programs Coordinator & Interpretive Manager, Mackenzie Padula.
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 2/16/2021
Have you met Betsy on one of your recent tours of Lucknow Mansion? Betsy Hutchings is one of our Floor Managers– in this role she oversees the interpreters, helps to ensure the safety of the guests and the collections, and always hopes to make sure you have a wonderful time visiting Castle in the Clouds.
I interviewed Betsy on March 2, 2021, to learn more about what Castle in the Clouds means to her.
Mackenzie (M): Can you tell me when you first started working for the Castle?
Betsy (B): I can! I moved to the Lakes Region in late 2016 and wanted a part-time job. I saw the job posting in the spring of 2017, you were advertising for tour guides and since I had had lots of experience with public speaking and by coincidence, I had been a tour guide one summer in college, so I applied for the job. Although, to tell you the truth, history wasn’t my thing. It was never my favorite subject. But when I first saw the Castle, I knew I had to work there.
M: So you had visited the castle before you worked?
B: No. I just saw these magical signs “Castle in the Clouds” and I couldn’t even imagine what it was.
M: You started as a tour guide and now you’re one of the floor managers?
B: Yes, one of the floor managers.
M: And how did the transition go between you being a tour guide into a manager?
B: I love it! Occasionally, I miss being a tour guide but I’m there to fill in if someone doesn’t feel well or there’s an emergency. I’m happy to fill in because we all help each other that way and as floor manager, I’m one of the team members – we’re all the same unless there’s an emergency, then I’m there to steer the ship.
M: And you’re also a basement tour guide, right? And you were one of the first basement guides when we started doing those in 2018?
M: How is it?
B: How is that going? It’s going a little tougher with the masks [in the 2020 season]. I don’t feel too closed-in, but people need to hear every word and it’s harder in the basement with the mask.
B: But I love it. I love telling the stories. I love to get them engaged and laughing.
M: Why would you say that the Castle is so important to you?
B: Because again the team works closely together to protect the collections, and share the stories. And so we all have kind of an ownership stake in the Castle [Lucknow Mansion]. That’s why it’s important. It isn’t just a pretty house with a little history, and the visitors are not just nameless, faceless tourists. They are truly our guests. So there’s no better accomplishment than to have a guest become very interested, or even excited, about the stories in history that we share, also, and I’m speaking for the team, I think we feel a kinship with Tom and Olive. We’ve read so much, and we talk so much about them. So they’re part of our lives and we want to share that with the guests.
M: What was your background before you joined the Castle?
B: I spent my career in finance, in the fixed income markets. I managed about three billion dollars worth of municipal bond funds – but it was really like “Monopoly” money because I never actually touched the money. However, I gained a knowledge of cities and towns all over the country, so when I chat with visitors and ask where they are from and they say, “oh, you’ve never heard of it,” I’ll say “try me.” Tuba City Arizona? Of course, I’ve heard of it: I’ve bought their municipal bonds!
Our past paths collide with the present at the Castle because of the wonderful and varied people we get to meet.
M: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
B: Because I’m retired, I work very hard at swimming and golfing. Normally in a regular year, dinner parties. I love hosting parties especially a small dinner party with maybe three couples, wine, and interesting conversation.
M: And if houses were to have personalities, how would you describe Lucknow’s?
B: I might have to get back to you on that. I think, including the whole magnificent venue just it exudes peace and tranquility and taste. And grandeur, and humility in some ways.
M: And, what would you say are some of the values of our team?
B: It’s the quintessential teamwork. Everyone helps everyone else. I’ve never seen anyone say no, I’m not going to do that. Nobody says to guests or other staff “Oh No, you have the story wrong!” Instead, we say “Oh, have you heard that? My understanding is this…. Let’s, together, figure out what the truth is.” It can be competitive learning but in a fun way, so we share, and as I said we all feel like we know Tom and Olive.
Thank you Betsy for participating in this interview, and sharing your enthusiasm for our organization! Be sure to say hi to Betsy when you come for your 2021 Lucknow Mansion and Basement Tour! Or you can join her and work at Castle in the Clouds – we are hiring across all departments for the 2021 season and looking for volunteers!
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 3/16/2021