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Target of vandals

Residents advocate for Gilford castle

Union Leader Correspondent

August 15. 2013 8:38PM
Historic Kimball Castle in Gilford has been declared a danger to the public and must be torn down or fenced off. (COURTESY)

GILFORD — A group of residents calling itself "Advocates for Kimball’s Castle" is hoping the town will erect a fence around the deteriorating castle to keep vandals away until a better solution can be found to tearing it down.

“I haven’t spoken to one person who wants to see it come down,” said Carol Anderson, a member of the group.

The selectmen held a hearing Wednesday night to take input on what to do with the castle, which is in such bad shape the building inspector has ordered that it be torn down. The castle has also been the site of frequent vandalism incidents, said Town Administrator Scott Dunn.

The 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 nearly 4,000-square-foot mansion and had a net assessed value of $311,600 in 2012. It has been for sale for a price of $799,000.

The board has many options before it, Dunn said. It has permission to have the building torn down, which has been ordered by the building inspector and is the option favored by the owners, the Jodoin family, Dunn said.

The town also has an undefined right-of-access easement to the 20.35-acre castle lot, and some residents, like members of the Kimball Wildlife Forest group, would like the castle and its property to become an educational experience for residents and tourists.

Members of the forest group say they know that the selectmen may have to tear down the castle. Anderson said her group wants to find a way to restore the castle, and the group will raise money for the effort.

Dunn said the town could not order fencing to keep vandals and the general public from the castle as it doesn’t own the property, but Anderson said the advocacy group will raise the money for fences if the owners can be convinced to delay the destruction of the castle.

She said her group is researching guidelines that allow a building to be preserved as a “ruin,” but she’s not sure if the castle has gone too far beyond repair.

“We think it’s important to keep the castle standing,” she said.

“But we understand the importance of getting it fenced-off. We’re here, though, we’re willing to do the work required in fundraising to keep it maintained.”

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