Ann Hackl and The Great Community Effort to Save Castle in the Clouds
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 5/12/2020
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?