Group aims to save Gilford's Kimball Castle
GILFORD — A new group started by a longtime Lakes Region Realtor called "Save Kimball Castle" is hoping to rescue the castle, which could be destroyed by a wrecking ball in the months ahead.
“Kimball Castle is about to be demolished! This castle is an important historical landmark built in the 1890s and needs to be saved!” according to the group’s website.
“A $10 donation by 80,000 people is enough to save this castle!”
The group’s founder, Christine O’Brien, who now runs a realty business in Sandown, said she started the group after reading about the plight of the castle, which is in such bad shape that it is not open to the public.
The castle, which has been the site of frequent vandalism, was built on Lockes Hill on Belknap Point in 1895 by Concord and Montreal Railroad president Benjamin Ames Kimball.
It is listed in town records as a nearly 4,000-square-foot mansion, with a net assessed value of $311,600 in 2012. It has been for sale for a price of $799,000.
The town is considering its options with regard to the castle.
It has permission to have the building torn down, which has been ordered by the town’s building inspector. That option is favored by the owners, town officials said.
There are other options that were discussed at the hearing regarding access to the castle. The town 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.
Another unaffiliated group, “Advocates for Kimball’s Castle,” has also been formed.
O’Brien knows that the goal of raising $799,000 is ambitious.
The Save Kimball Castle website — www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-kimball-castle — has registered two donors, one pledging $10 and another pledging $50, since O’Brien first posted the site this week.
And donors needn’t worry about losing their money. “If we don’t get to the $799,000, everyone’s money will be returned,” O’Brien said.
“It’s a huge project, obviously, to repair the castle, but the town needs a buyer before it can even consider putting a fence around it to keep vandals out,” she said.
“It’s such a unique structure, it would be really sad if it was torn down,” O’Brien said.