Gilford castle owner says town is pressuring him to raze it
GILFORD — The owner of Kimball Castle has no plans to tear down the 1897 castle, though he says the town is pressuring him to raze it.
David Jodoin, of Nashua, said Tuesday he complied with a town order to fence off the decaying castle by April 30. The selectmen gave him a “make safe” deadline, ordering him to tear down the buildings or erect a fence around the castle to keep trespassers out.
Jodoin, whose family has owned the castle for several decades, has been trying to sell the property for more than a decade. He still wants to sell it, but says the town has made it clear it wants to level the castle.
“The town has been pressuring me for a long time to tear it down, but we have no plans to do that. We still hope to find a buyer,” he said.
Town officials have repeatedly expressed concern about the castle’s poor condition. Before the fencing went up last month, the castle buildings, which have been deemed unsafe by town officials, were only protected by “Private Property” and “No Trespassing” signs.
Over the years, the castle has become a popular curiosity visit for teenagers, and police have arrested people for trespassing there many times, said acting Police Chief James Leach. Police try to keep trespassers out, but can’t post a 24-hour guard there, he said.
“The biggest issue for us is that it isn’t safe, and we find too many people there that don’t belong there, this is this man’s private property,” Leach said.
Jodoin said the frequent trespassing causes tremendous stress on his family.
“We are to the point where people are trespassing on our property a lot,” he said “People don’t realize the frustration and suffering that causes; it’s from people who think they have a right to be on my property and they don’t.”
On April 10, 2013, the selectmen voted unanimously to authorize the Jodoin family to tear down the castle. Since that time, the selectmen have extended the deadline to comply with the building inspector’s make-safe order three times, said Town Administrator Scott Dunn.
Jodoin finally complied by erecting the fences, Dunn said, but the buildings are dangerous and trespassers could be hurt, which would bring up liability questions. Jodoin, who has the castle and its 23 acres priced at $799,000, said he still hopes to sell the landmark property, which was named on the 2013 list of “Seven to Save” by the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance. The castle is also on record with the National Register of Historic Places.
“We don’t have any plans to do anything different to the castle right now,” he said. “We still hope to sell.”