By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 4/27/2021
Happy Earth Month! Last Thursday was Earth Day and with our beautiful property, we have so much to celebrate!
Castle Preservation Society aims to preserve the stunning property that we manage by being as environmentally sustainable as possible. Here are some of our current efforts that help the environment:
- Our gift shop uses paper bags, rather than plastic bags.
- We take care of the trees, flowers, and plants on our property. We remove those that are dying, diseased, or posing a hazard. We bring in arborists to consult on the care of trees that make up our historic landscape.
- We reuse secondhand furniture in our offices.
- New this year, we’ve installed filling stations on the property to decrease our use of plastic water bottles.
- When we’re working onsite we aim to only use lights in spaces that we’re in. Telecommuting this winter resulted in cutting our electricity usage in half.
- We recycle obsessively.
- We’re careful about using the heating and cooling systems. We limit the temperatures and when they are used.
- A handful of our employees carpool together.
- And, we all get outside and enjoy the property whenever we can!
You can implement some of these efforts into your own home/workplace! You can find additional lists of how to live sustainably with the links below:
The Shannon Pond Dam flooded this year – not for the first time. The dam on Shannon Lake (now pond) was inspected by the state in June of 1936 and deemed a menace to public safety due to the original height of the dam. Tom Plant responded to the inspection taking particular offense to the use of the word “menace” and arguing the validity of the report. While the commission responded to Tom’s letter with an apology for the use of the word “menace” – the report remained valid – the dam was now subject to inspection every five years.
World War II prevented further inspection of the dam on Shannon Lake. The dam sustained damage and flooded both in 1943 and 1944. The Tobey family who now owned the property repaired the dam both times. In 1944 Mr. Tobey actually reached out the commission to redesign the dam and rebuild it completely. This dam sustained until the 1960s when the Robie family did a complete reconstruction of the dam. Since the dam was known to the commission – its reconstruction garnered interest from the Chairman of the Board, as well as multiple engineers who worked to make the dam safe and functionable.
The dam has continued to overflow over the past few years – which has allowed some of our trout to escape into the brook and flooded some of the hiking trails which in turn froze. This is part of the reason why Brook Trail has limited access right now and why snowmobiles were prohibited this past winter.
This spring will bring exciting changes down at Shannon Pond. We have reconfigured the waterfront access to the pond and fish viewing. A new dock has been built for the public that will likely allow for handicapped access. The 33-foot-long dock is 8-foot-wide and reaches deeper into the pond then the previous one. A new maintenance dock has also been built to better safeguard the pond drainpipe and prevent overflow of the dam down the emergency spillway. The construction work has been done by Watermark Marine Construction of Laconia.
Have you had the opportunity to see our new docks and the work being done on the dam?
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 3/24/2020
Did you know that Castle Preservation Society (Castle in the Clouds) works very closely with Lakes Region Conservation Trust (LRCT) to manage the land surrounding the Castle?
LRCT bought the Castle property in 2002 – the property spanned nearly 5,300 acres including the Castle, the Carriage House, and two gate houses. The property was immediately moved into a conservancy aimed at protecting the lands and nature while safely sharing it with the public. In 2004 LRCT established Castle Preservation Society (CPS) as a subsidiary non-profit with the mission of preserving the historic Castle and the surrounding grounds. By 2006, CPS became a stand-alone, 501(c)(3) organization managing the preservation and restoration of Lucknow Estate, and the surrounding 150 acres. LRCT still retains over 5000 acres of the property originally purchased, and holds an easement on CPS property. Additionally, CPS has an easement on the property from NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP).
What does this mean? Easements are the non-possessive right to use land. The easements on the property affect how CPS and LRCT can use the land. LRCT works to maintain the trails throughout the Ossipee Mountains, they set up tables in near trail heads on CPS property to educate visitors and hikers about the property and provide guidance as needed. CPS makes LRCT aware of major events on the property that would affect the land use i.e. our Castle Car Show, or our new Great Water’s Music Festival Series: Concerts in the Clouds. Hikers would walk through both properties on even a brief hike in the area – so we work together to interpret the land and historic markers.
In short – it means that we work collaboratively to ensure the land is preserved and conserved to the best of both of our organization’s ability. And we both love to share it with the public!
Have you hiked or explored the area?
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 4/28/2020
New Hampshire has a vast array of wildlife ranging from sea creatures to mountainous creatures – the Ossipee Mountain range in Moultonborough is no different.
In the mountains that surround Castle in the Clouds there are black bears, moose, white tailed deer, wild turkey, bald eagle, wood turtle, bobolink and Eastern meadowlarks. On the Castle property you’ll also find trout in Shannon Pond, and very well may see our resident porcupine, Petey.
Moultonborough’s Wildlife Action Plan lists this area as a combination of wetlands, marsh, peat lands, hay and grasslands – protected at large by LRCT the land is considered to be taken care of.
Joe Callanan will be giving a presentation about NH Wildlife this summer – you can register for that event here.
What wildlife have you seen on the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area?
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 5/26/2020
Ossipee Village, on the shores of Ossipee Lake, is built on the site of a substantial Native village. It was a good source for fishing and hunting. The Ossipee Village is considered to be particularly helpful to archaeologists since the village was so important that English settlers sent carpenters to build a fort around the village to help protect the Indigenous people so that they could trade with them. You can learn more about NH Indigenous Peoples with this activity.
The field at Castle in the Clouds was home to several families who made a self-sustaining community. Eventually the Shaw family moved to this property and built a hotel encouraging out of town guests and artists to come and explore the vast beauty of the area. Our virtual library has a couple videos that explore the history of the land. You can still find cellar homes from these families throughout the property.
When the Plants moved to the property, they repurposed the fields as a golf course, and used Shannon Lake (now Shannon Pond) for fishing. Today the field is a beautiful vista that visitors drive through on their arrival and exit of the property, it also houses Riding in the Clouds and is the starting point for many hiking trails.
By: Mackenzie M. Padula 6/23/2020
Did you know that there once was a volcano in New Hampshire? Geologists believe that there are at least two historic, extinct volcanoes in the Granite State. 100 million years ago then again 10 million years ago, one erupted creating the beautiful Ossipee Mountain range that houses Castle in the Clouds today! The second volcano was substantially smaller – it was located at Pawtuckaway State Park. The ancient volcanic formation in Ossipee is geologically significant because it formed a unique circle. This phenomenon is only found in a few spots around the world. The eruptions also gave way to a wealth of minerals, and unique rock formations. It’s considered to be “the most accessible, exposed and vivid example of the inner workings of a volcanic system”. The formation and geological history draws researchers from around the world. The Plants drew inspiration from these natural wonders and had the stone facade for their home hand cut to replicate the appearance. Castle in the Clouds also offers an exceptional view of the circular mountain range, and hiking trails on the property bring visitors to the rock formations.
Have you seen these rock formations on our property?
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 7/28/2020
Castle Preservation Society and LRCT work together to manage over 5,000 acres of land and nearly 30 hiking trails. Trails on the property vary in difficulty and are widely popular with outstanding views of the Castle, Lake Winnipesaukee and the surrounding landscape. Our hiking trails are open daily from dawn to dusk; overnight camping is not allowed. Here are some safe hiking tips from NH Fish and Game:
hikeSafe Hiker Responsibility Code
You are responsible for:
- Knowledge and gear.Become self reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.
- To leave your plans.Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you’ll return and your emergency plans.
- To stay together. When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group. Pace your hike to the slowest person.
- To turn back. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike. The mountains will be there another day.
- For emergencies. Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.
- To share the hiker code with others.
hikeSafe: It’s Your Responsibility.
Additional resources for hiking preparation, including how to plan your trip and what to know if you’re hiking with children or a group, can be found at https://hikesafe.com/.
It’s a good idea to be prepared with the following:
- Have a map & compass
- Dress in layers
- Long pants are best
- Bring extra food and water
- Bring a flashlight / headlamp
- Bring matches/fire starters
- Bring a first aid kit
- Bring a whistle
- Bring a pocket knife
- Wear sturdy footwear and bring extra socks
- Bring insect repellent & sunscreen
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 8/25/2020
Our new Adopt an Artifact program allows you to sponsor and support select artifacts from our collection. This year the funding goes to the general operational budget of Castle in the Clouds in light of COVID-19 but this program is created so that in future years you can help us offset the cost of historic preservation and conservation of objects.
For example, in the preservation of library materials such as Gibbon’s Roman Empire, the curator would inventory the display space. Historic library pieces should be displayed at least 10 cm off the ground, and would ideally have a cover above it. Books should be kept in a well ventilated space. We keep Gibbon’s Roman Empire on display on the oak table in the library, as Tom and Olive displayed favorite sets of their books with the “Hide & Seek” Bookends. The library has open air flow and was recently restored.
Proper restoration or recreation of historic artifacts includes the proper use of materials or ideal, time appropriate replacements and protocols for how they were created. Book bindings of this sort would include hand dyed leather, with wraparound raised ribs, embossed lettering, decorative binding tools, and end pages. It’s an art style unto itself that values craftsmanship and authenticity.
Our curatorial committee works tirelessly to create the most accurate representation of how Tom and Olive would have lived and how the home is represented in historic photographs. By supporting the museum through membership, volunteering, donation, adoption or participating in our annual gala, you are helping to support the preservation of artifacts and history for generations to follow!
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 9/22/2020
Dried Floral Arrangements are a beautiful homage to autumn, and the perfect décor for November. Below you’ll find a compilation of tips and tricks to create your own arrangement just in time for the holidays.
- Twigs, branches, grasses, spent pods, berries, foliage
- Dried flowers – make sure they are dried thoroughly
- Flowers that are easiest to dry are ones with low moisture content i.e.
- Colored spray paint if desired i.e. a metallic gold
- A preservation tool like hairspray or clear spray paint
- Hairspray is great for preservation for a short term
- Clear spray paint works better for a more durable arrangement
- Vase or string or basket to hold together your arrangement for display
How to create your arrangement:
- Use hairspray or paint to preserve dried flowers
- Start with your larger dried flowers since these will be the focal point of the arrangement, put them into your vase or vessel
- Add in smaller flowers and sprigs of foliage as desired.
When putting together your arrangement you’ll want to think about height and width of the arrangement. You can search social media for inspiration. Here is a window box displayed on the front of the Castle in 2019 (arranged by Gretchen Large, the Random Gardener | Read about our Gardner Extraordinaire):
For a fun twist – you can add in roses made from fallen leaves!
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 10/27/2020
“Putting Lucknow to Bed” gives us the opportunity to inventory and care for the collections thoroughly after a busy season. This process includes:
- Taking condition photographs of the rooms and the collections within the room. These give us photographic comparisons of rooms, artifacts and various other objects in our collection from year to year. We can determine if they need conservation work over the winter, or should they be given a break next season.
- Cleaning and detailing the rooms, furniture and artifacts. We dust all of the objects, detail them using a soft brush and vacuum, or a mesh screen and vacuum if it’s upholstered. Additionally, we dust and vacuum the rooms from top down, making sure to get those often overlooked areas (like the tops of molding, etc.).
- Cover furniture and windows. Covering the furniture limits the dust build up during the winter. We cover furniture with sheets, books and paintings (that can’t be moved or stored elsewhere) with acid free paper, and we install black out curtains over our windows to limit UV light coming in which could cause sun bleaching to our collection.
- Inventory the collections. We also use this time to run an inventory on various hardware like our beautiful window hardware and accessories like the lampshades which helps us determine if we need to repair anything.
Recently we shared a video on social media, showing Robin (our Curator and Museum Manager) and myself cleaning, detailing and covering the Green Room, our larger guest room in Lucknow. Though Lucknow has been “put to bed” for the winter, our curatorial team work in the historic house regularly through the winter to ensure the safety of the home and the collection against pest, water damage, etc. Our team is also working on exploring the North Tower interior (Castle: Restoration on the Docket) to better plan for that upcoming restoration project.
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 11/24/2020
New Hampshire (NH) winters can be brutal between snow, freezing temperatures, and high winds. Winters can be so extreme that during the winter of 1813, Ebenezer Horne (who lived on Castle in the Clouds property prior to Tom purchasing the land in 1912) died feet from his home but unable to make it inside.
Managing the estate road winding from Route 171 to Lucknow mansion would have been a burdensome task with the snow and ice. We understand that groundskeepers would have used an ice roller to pack down the snow and ice on the road, then Tom and Olive, as well as their staff and guests, would use horse and sleigh to navigate rather than their cars.
The extent of Tom and Olive’s estate would have allowed them to relax with some ease during the winter months. Ledgewood Farm would have provided most food for them, and other ingredients that could not be grown or foraged on the property, like flour or sugar would’ve been stocked in the various pantry spaces in the basement. The 6300-acre estate provided the perfect opportunity for Tom and Olive to cross country ski, snowshoe, and ice skate. We understand that Tom was an accomplished ice skater when he was younger!
Our property is open to hikers, snowshoes, and cross-country skiers to access LRCT’s hiking trails on the property. These trails are open dawn-dusk, daily. However, please note that public hiker parking will be limited this winter to the designated hiker parking lot at the top of Ossipee Park Road, across from the CG Roxanne water bottling plant. Parking in non-designated areas is not allowed and may lead to your vehicle being towed. Additionally, the historic entry road to the Castle Estate will remain open for winter hiking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. We do ask that anyone enjoying winter recreation on the estate grounds please respect the No Trespassing area surrounding the Carriage House and Castle. This area is closed to the public at this time.
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 12/29/2020
Linnea Sando poses the question, “What do landscapes tell us about our culture?” Throughout her TedX talk, Sando divulges how to look beyond what you see, investigate the history of a landscape, and discern what that tells us about the people that lived or worked there. These are questions and ideas that I also pose to myself when hiking through the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area. So, let’s take these ideas and apply them to the Castle in the Clouds property.
When you hike near the open field, you can find historic markers and cellar holes for most of the families that made up the Moultonborough Mountain Community. These cellar holes show us how the families stored some of their foods. Cellar holes would be dug out and lined with stones to create a crawl space under the kitchen to store root vegetables like potatoes and carrots as well as preserved meat like jerky. These cellar holes, often called root cellars, were primarily accessed through a door on the floor of the kitchen, and potentially from an exterior door as well. Cellar holes kept food from freezing in the winter and kept the food temperate in the summer. This tells us that the families would have saved and preserved food for extended periods. Surrounding these homes are young trees – they are shorter than others in the forest, and are significantly slimmer. This indicates that the land likely didn’t have the trees it does today. Pair this with the cellar holes, the isolated location of the homesteads, and the era, and we can infer that these were farms. With contextual history we understand that the Moultonborough Mountain Community was largely self-sufficient, meaning they didn’t necessarily rely on purchasing their food from the town. With what we can see today in the landscape surrounding the cellar holes, the idea of self-sufficiency is supported. If you are out hiking, be sure to look for these cellar holes and historic markers, and see if you can match the current evidence with the historic photographs. Can you see the foundations of the cellar holes, the layout of a barn, the remnants of the chimney?
By the mid-1800s, several of the Mountain Community families sold some, or all, of their properties to Benjamin Shaw. Shaw built a home, named Weelahka Hall, in the middle of the open field by what is now Shannon Pond, with several accessory buildings surrounding it. He landscaped the field and hiking trails, overall creating the public attraction Ossipee Mountain Park (you can learn more about it with this video). Weelahka Hall and the accessory buildings were razed by Tom Plant in the early 1900s, but you can see aspects of this era in the landscape today. There are still bridges and hiking trails crossing through the property, meant to connect guests with the natural beauty and phenomena of the area, including the seven waterfalls. These structures tell us that Shaw, and his guests, valued the beauty of nature. It would have been a stark contrast to the industrialization of the era. Have you hiked one of these trails, or have you seen the bridges near the waterfalls?
Lucknow Mansion has stunning views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Winnipesaukee. When constructed, Tom Plant wanted the home to reflect the beauty of nature that surrounds it. The home incorporates locally sourced materials and imported goods (you can watch a video about the global architectural influences here) to create something that is one of a kind. From the exterior, one can infer that Tom was either well-traveled or, at least, very inspired by global architecture (this is confirmed in research and records of Tom Plant). We can also assume an appreciation for the natural landscape. Tom had also landscaped the property to include over 25 miles of hiking and riding trails, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, and a stable. Most dramatically, Tom added a dam to Shannon Brook to result in the five-acre Shannon Lake (now Shannon Pond). Today we can look at the open field and envision Tom golfing. The hiking and riding trails are still operational today. The stable has been transformed into The Carriage House which hosts our restaurant, wedding venue, and staff offices. The space that was once the tennis courts is now our parking lot. And it’s hard to envision the landscape without Shannon Pond. Within the home, there are notes of the Arts and Crafts movement in interior design. We also found traces of people that worked on the home. In the smaller guest bathroom on the second floor, you can see where an original worker drew where a light fixture would go. In the Blue Room (first-floor guest chamber), we found notes from wallpaper hangers who decorated the room over the past century. These tidbits give us connections to real people that worked in the home, and to workers in the greater community. Have you had the chance to see the historic house and find these details recently?
All in all, the construction and landscape of a specific place, whether that be the Lucknow Estate or your neighborhood, can tell you about its history and culture with some investigative work and keen observation skills. What can you determine about your community?
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 1/26/2021
Castle Preservation Society is known for the ongoing and diligent work we do to restore the Lucknow Mansion (you can explore the blog to read about some of our recent restoration projects or check out our Virtual Library for videos about the process). Many also know that we work with the Lakes Region Conservation Trust (LRCT) to manage and interpret the surrounding landscape and make sure it’s open for the public to experience (again, you can explore the relationships and works in our blog and Virtual Library). In the area immediately surrounding the Lucknow Mansion and the original stables (today’s Carriage House), the current landscape looked very different than it does today, which has had an effect on the views and historic context of the area. Part of our mission is to preserve and interpret the buildings, landscapes, etc., for the enjoyment, education, and benefit of the guests. So an ongoing endeavor of ours is to create a curated landscape that is representative of how the Plant’s landscaped the property, allowing you to enjoy the views and get the closest approximation to the Plant era estate that we can offer. The biggest challenge of curated landscapes is that they grow and evolve organically.
The North Lawn
We are working with a specialist, Cindy Brockway, to recreate this landscape in a way that is sustainable to maintain for the environment as well as our modern needs. As you can see, a bulk of the North Lawn was covered in trees. We have a couple of the original trees still intact, others were diseased and have since been removed. It is also possible that some of these trees were removed as early as the Plant or Tobey eras to open up the mountain view.
The Lakeside Lawn
We have a few more flowers around the pond than the irises and wild grasses Olive had planted there. Because our site is used for weddings and events in addition to tours of the historic house, we strive to strike a balance between the needs of our guests and the simple and natural look of the Plant era. This spring, a replica of the beloved Sprite statue will be re-installed in the pond using historic photographs as a guide for his placement.
Olive had a sea of wildflowers that flowed down the hillside between the Lucknow Mansion and their stables. Below the greenhouse and throughout the property other vegetation has grown in and grown up. Our facilities team has been working through the winter to remove some of the brush that has built up over years.
We can’t wait to share these updates with you when as they are completed – you’ll have to tell us which you notice when we reopen Memorial Day weekend this year! Which are you looking forward to seeing?
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 2/23/2021
This beautiful weather we’ve been having in New Hampshire has me ready to enjoy the outdoors! I know I’m not alone, and; our facilities team has been working throughout the winter preparing our property to deliver even better views and gorgeous gardens. Here are some tips to prepare your garden in early Spring:
- Clean up your flower/garden beds: This includes clearing out dead leaves, debris, and protective winter mulch.
- Plan for your annual flowers and veggies: Think about how you want to layout your garden. Some flowers and foods do not grow well next to one another, while others will thrive next to certain neighbors. Think about how much space everything will need when fully grown, and consider when each will bloom and how the colors and timing will look in its surroundings. Here’s an awesome resource on planning your garden!
- Divide perennials: Splitting up grown perennials is a great way to share your garden and spread your favorite plants throughout your landscape. It will also help maintain the health of your plants.
- Add fresh mulch around perennials: Adding a fresh layer of mulch is one of the easiest and quickest ways to make your landscape look finished. This is also beneficial to the plants since it helps with moisture retention and maintaining weeds.
- Plant veggies: Hardy root vegetables like to be planted in the spring once the soil is thawed. Other vegetables may need to be started indoors and transferred to your garden once it warms up a bit more. Here is a great timeline for planting veggies!
We can’t wait to share our gardens and views with you when we open for tours on May 29th! And if you’d like to learn more about our gardens, keep an eye on our program calendar for Garden Tours starting in June!
By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 3/23/2021