Sunday, July 18, 2010

Castle in the Clouds

When first built in 1914 this place was called “Lucknow” but later on it could have been renamed “Luck? No!” More on that later.

A gentleman by the name of Thomas Plant, who was sort of the Jimmy Choo of his day (a major manufacturer of ladies shoes), thought having a home in the New Hampshire mountains would be nice, so he bought 6600 acres which included 5 mountain peaks and a couple of waterfalls.DSC_0273  These are the Falls of Song, but when we were there, I didn’t hear anyone singing.

Anyhow, the arts and crafts house isn’t really a castle, at least by Vanderbilt and Hearst standards, but it is a nice big  house on top of a mountain with a great view of Lake Winnipesaukee. The local preservationists run the place as a tourist attraction to raise money for restoration.  Some of the furnishings are original Plant pieces.


Mr. Plant was a self-made millionaire, starting as a factory worker in a shoe factory, then beginning his own shoemaking business which became the biggest in the country at the time. His factory was said to be the largest factory (I guess it was a Plant plant) of any kind in the US during the period.DSC_0277

The view from the backyard includes the lake, which is several miles away. The original estate included a big chunk of lakefront property which was eventually sold, lakefront property being what it is. DSC_0279

Mr. Plant had a “secret room” in the house, which wasn’t really a secret, but was somewhat hidden behind a secret door in the wainscoting. If the stories are true, Mr. Plant barely had to duck to get through that door, and when he was in there he was not to be disturbed. The second Mrs. Plant, by the way, was 6’1”.

Mr. Plant was apparently very good at making women’s shoes, but at investing, not so much. He bought $750,000 worth of Russian stocks just before the Russian revolution – so the stocks became worthless. Then he invested what money he had left in sugar, and the crop failed, leaving Mr. Plant virtually penniless.  The house was auctioned off and the new owners allowed Plant to continue living there. After Plant’s death at 37 or 38, the house became a privately owned tourist attraction, and eventually was taken over by the local preservation society. About 1000 acres was sold off, so the current property is about 5500 acres.


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