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Castle in the Clouds Asks Public to Help Solve Mysteries

The Laker - September 6, 2017





Castle in the Clouds Asks the Public to Help Solve Research Mysteries

Michelle Landry hopes the public might hold the key to solving some of Castle in the Clouds’ long-standing mysteries. As Curatorial Director, she is overseeing the restoration of the rooms at Lucknow, a nationally significant Arts & Crafts estate built by millionaire Thomas Plant in the Ossipee Mountains of Moultonboro in 1914.

Landry believes that photographs taken by past visitors could provide the evidence she needs for some key furnishing decisions. “We hear many stories about furniture and artwork once on display, historic wallpapers now gone, and even the way the landscape has changed over time. To separate fact from hearsay and legend, we need more information. We’re inviting people to help us by sharing their photographs or other collections in hopes that they might reveal crucial supporting evidence.”

Richard Robie opened the Castle to the public in 1959, just a few years after he purchased the property with its panoramic views of Lake Winnipesaukee for his summer home. In the 1990s, under subsequent owners, the water bottling plant and Lucknow Brewery were built. Guests who visited then might have toured these facilities and bought souvenirs, items also of interest to the curatorial team at the Castle.

As part of the current major preservation effort, the house’s 16 rooms are gradually being restored to their original appearance as shown in photographs taken by George Perry in the 1920s. At that time, retired Boston shoe manufacturer, Thomas G. Plant and his wife, Olive Dewey Plant, were living on the estate and seeking to sell it by means of a series of expensively produced brochures and advertisements.

Landry specifically hopes that a photograph of the Castle’s dining room rug might come to light. The original rug, which appears in some historic photographs, was removed from the mansion sometime in the 1990s. “We have just a few images showing this emerald green, octagonal rug, but there isn’t enough detail for us to confidently have a replica made. If someone has a photograph that shows the rug’s border pattern in detail, this could be a real breakthrough for the project.”

But pictures and evidence from any decade of the Castle’s existence could be very helpful. “If any images turn up that show the Castle before the 1950s, those would be extremely valuable to us as well,” notes Landry. Photographs are an important part of the research and restoration planning underway now, and may be donated or simply loaned for copying, making an invaluable addition to the Castle’s archive.

Brochures, admission tickets, and other types of souvenirs and ephemera related to the Castle would also be of great value to the current research effort, as would locating original furnishings and artwork. For instance, only the player console and decorative pipes from the Castle’s original Aeolian organ remain in place, but the remainder of the instrument may still be in the area, and Landry would love to locate it.

“It’s very possible that, if enough material surfaces, we may be able to produce an exhibit that tells the story of how the Castle property became an iconic New England tourist destination,” said Landry. “The public can play a very important role in the current work we do here at the Castle to preserve and share the fascinating story of this great estate.”

If you have an item of interest that you would like to share with Landry, please email her at curator@castleintheclouds.org or call the curatorial office at 603-476-5418.

Castle in the Clouds is owned and operated by the not-for-profit Castle Preservation Society whose mission is to preserve, interpret and share the buildings and landscape of the Castle in the Clouds as a historical and cultural resource for the Lakes Region. It is located off Route 171 in Moultonboro and is open seven days a week through Sunday, October 22. 

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