All Sections

Home | Business

New keepers of the castle hope to transform crumbling Gilford landmark into 'wedding and event destination'

Union Leader Correspondent

September 19. 2018 8:50PM
Kimball Castle in Gilford — built by wealthy railroad baron Benjamin Ames Kendall in the 1890s — is a shell of its former self but its new owners plan to transform it into “a wedding and event destination.” (BEA LEWIS/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

The ruins of Kimball Castle atop Locke's Hill in Gilford, is seen through the remains of a stone gazebo on the property which overlooks Lake Winnipesaukee. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

GILFORD — An investor just paid more than a half-million dollars for a ruined castle near the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.

Kimball Castle and 20.35 acres of property offering panoramic views of the Big Lake changed hands earlier this month.

Patrick Starkey, who with his wife, Melissa Starkey, runs Starkey Realty in Concord, announced on Facebook they bought the castle, which will be transformed into “a wedding and event destination.”

Efforts to reach them for comment were unsuccessful.

According to Belknap County records, the castle sold for $562,533 to Lockes Hill LLC., of Loudon. Kimball Castle Properties of New Bedford, Mass. was the seller.

The castle was built by railroad magnate Benjamin Ames Kimball; its design was reportedly based on a castle he had seen on the Rhine River in Germany. Work started on the stone building in 1897, and took two years and $50,000 to complete.

The view from a parapet of the castle included the rounded peak of Rattlesnake Island, along with Locke’s, Welch and Diamond Islands lying directly below. In the center of the view are 40 named islands including Governor’s. Kimball called the property “The Broads,” after the widest expanse of the state’s largest lake which the site overlooks.

Development of the castle property is limited to a full-service restaurant and lounge not to exceed 175 seats, and or a country inn, with no more than 40 rooms, according to deed restrictions.

“No other use of the land or future subdivision thereof shall be permitted without the written permission of the Treasurer of the Kimball Castle Trust, the Director of Charitable Trusts of the State of New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and the Belknap County Superior Court,” the deed reads.

While time, thieves and vandals have long since stripped the stone edifice of its original grandeur, its architectural details once included four gargoyles to direct water flow from the roof and an octagonal skylight made of amber glass, arched stained glass windows and a fireplace in each of the five bedrooms.

An obligation that runs with the land and buildings is a $2,500 annual payment to the town of Gilford to continue for 40 years. The money is earmarked to making improvements on the abutting town land and in consideration for such payments the owners of the castle have the right to groom by powered machinery cross country ski trails on the remaining municipally owned land.

The sale is subject to an easement to the property for the benefit of the public for access to the adjoining land of the town for hiking, cross-country skiing and other such purposes. The easement includes the right for the public to use the parking area for such access.

The buyer is also obligated to set aside space inside the renovated castle for an educational display to promote the purposes of the Kimball Castle Trust, the deed states.

According to state filings, Melissa Starkey of Loudon is listed as the manager of Lockes Hill LLC, while Mary Jodoin is the managing member of the seller, Kimball Castle Properties.

Real estate History Tourism Gilford

More Headlines

Motivation Matters: A noble use of power