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Gilford to mull Kimball Castle’s fate

Union Leader Correspondent

July 31. 2013 8:33PM
Kimball Castle in Gilford has fallen into disrepair and the owners want the town’s permission to raze it. (COURTESY)

GILFORD — Selectmen will hold a public hearing Aug. 14 to gather public opinions before the town decides whether to allow the owners of historic Kimball Castle to tear it down.

Kimball Castle Properties, LLC, owners of the 20.35-acre castle lot, the castle, and other dwellings adjoining the Kimball Wildlife Forest, has submitted a petition seeking permission to raze the deteriorating castle, which is in such bad shape that it is not open to the public.

It also has been the site of frequent vandalism, said Town Administrator Scott Dunn.

“It’s falling apart,” Dunn said. “I don’t think anyone wants to tear it down, but it’s become a problem.”

After the public hearing, the selectmen will make its determination. The town through the selectmen is the trustee of the Kimball Castle Trust established by the late Charlotte Goodale Kimball.

The petition also seeks the approval of the director of Charitable Trusts of the state Attorney General’s Office and from Belknap County Superior Court.

Kimball Castle was built on Lockes Hill on Belknap Point in 1895 by Concord and Montreal Railroad President Benjamin Ames Kimball.

It is not easily accessible to the public and was never a tourist site, town officials said.

It is listed in town records as a mansion with nearly 4,000 square feet of living area and had a net assessed value of $311,600 in 2012.

Kimball family members hoped the castle would be preserved and not used for commercial purposes, according to the castle’s website.

The town, which owned the castle for a period, created the Locke’s Hill Nature Preserve on 260 acres and created hiking and skiing trails on it in the 1990s.

The castle and its remaining land were later sold to its current owner, according to town records.

The hearing, which will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 14 in the town offices’ first-floor conference room, will be attended by members of the Kimball Wildlife Forest Committee, who would prefer that the castle be restored, said Sandy McGonagle, the committee’s chairman.

But committee members recognize that the castle is in bad shape and will support whatever action the selectmen take, McGonagle said.

“We’d very much like to see it restored, and make it an educational opportunity for everyone,” she said. “But we realize it has fallen into serious disrepair, and we will support what the town chooses to do.”

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