New Hampshire, known for its rich history and stunning natural beauty, houses a unique treasure that stands out even in this picturesque state: the Castle in the Clouds. This remarkable destination, also known as Lucknow, is more than just a historic mansion; it’s a portal to the past, offering a glimpse into early 20th-century luxury and innovation, set against the backdrop of the breathtaking Ossipee Mountains and Lake Winnipesaukee.
The Birth of an Icon
Built in 1913-1914 by Thomas Gustave Plant, a millionaire in the shoe manufacturing industry, the Castle was a testament to his success and vision. Plant constructed this 16-room mansion for his wife, Olive Cornelia Dewey, on a mountaintop in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. The estate, originally spanning over 6,300 acres, was a marvel of its time, featuring cutting-edge amenities like a central vacuum system, a circular shower, and unique interlocking kitchen tiles.
The architectural design, a product of the famous Boston architect J. Williams Beal, boasted an Arts and Crafts style, integrating the home harmoniously with its natural surroundings. Plant’s meticulous attention to detail extended to the interiors as well, with contributions from renowned artists and companies, including Tiffany, Edward F. Caldwell & Co., and Irving & Casson-A.H. Davenport.
A Journey Through Time
Visiting Castle in the Clouds is like stepping back in time. The mansion’s rich history is palpable in every room, each telling its own story of early 20th-century opulence and creativity. After Plant’s death and various ownership changes, the estate was eventually opened to the public, allowing everyone to experience its grandeur.
Today, visitors can explore the mansion through self-guided tours, marveling at the preserved interiors that reflect the lifestyle of the Plants. The basement tours offer an intriguing look into the functional aspects of the mansion, revealing the innovative spirit of the era.
The Castle isn’t just about historical architecture; it’s also about embracing the natural beauty of New Hampshire. The estate is surrounded by 5,500 acres of conserved land, offering some of the most stunning views of the lakes and mountains. For the outdoor enthusiasts, there are 28 miles of wooded trails, perfect for hiking and exploring the local flora and fauna. The presence of picturesque waterfalls adds to the serene experience, making it an ideal spot for nature photography and peaceful contemplation.
A Venue for All Seasons
Castle in the Clouds isn’t just a summer destination. Throughout the year, it hosts a variety of programs and events catering to all interests. From guided hikes and stargazing nights to live music and behind-the-scenes tours, there’s always something happening. The estate is particularly enchanting during winter when it offers unique experiences like Winter Lunch at the Castle, combining delicious food with rustic ambiance.
A Dream Wedding Location
For those seeking a fairy-tale wedding venue, the Castle in the Clouds is a perfect choice. Awarded GOLD for Best Wedding Venue in the Best of the Lakes Region peoples’ choice contest, it offers a romantic setting with panoramic lakeside views, vintage horse stalls, and a terrace dining experience. The Castle’s beauty and historic charm provide an unforgettable backdrop for any special occasion.
Supporting Preservation and Education
Visiting Castle in the Clouds is not just about enjoyment; it’s also about contributing to the preservation of this historical gem. Admission fees, restaurant purchases, and event rental fees all go towards ensuring the Castle’s future for generations to come. The Castle Preservation Society actively works to maintain and restore this iconic landmark, ensuring that its story continues to be told.
Planning Your Visit
Before planning your visit, it’s worth checking the Castle in the Clouds website for up-to-date information on hours, admission, and COVID-19 policies. Visitors can also find details on dining options, including the Carriage House Restaurant and Café in the Clouds, offering meals that complement the overall experience of the estate.
A Destination with a Heart
Castle in the Clouds is more than just a historical site; it’s a living, breathing entity that continues to evolve and adapt. It represents a unique blend of history, nature, and culture, making it a must-visit destination in New Hampshire. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply seeking a beautiful and tranquil place to unwind, Castle in the Clouds offers an experience that is as enriching as it is enchanting.
As you plan your next adventure, consider stepping into this world of historical luxury and natural splendor. Castle in the Clouds is not just a visit to a mansion; it’s an exploration of history, art, and the beauty of the New Hampshire landscape. It’s a journey that promises to be as memorable as it is inspiring.