It was in 1897 that Benjamin Kimball, President of the Concord & Montreal Railroad and the Kimball and Wright Wheel Mfg. Company of Concord, hired an architect to built his castle on Locke's Hill overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee in Gilford.
In the early 1920's, Samuel L. Powers of Boston wrote the following of Benjamin Kimball:
"Many years ago Mr. Kimball made his first trip up the Rhine River in Germany. As he sat upon the steamer's deck, viewing the vine-clad slopes on either side of the river, he finally came into view of the castles built by the Barons of the Middle Ages.
It was then that the thought came to him that he would like to build a castle similar to those, upon the promontory which he owned on the soutern bank of Lake Winnipesaukee; so he made a landing, secured an architect, and arranged with him to make plans for a castle, which stands today some seven hundred feet above the lake on the brow of Locke's Hill.
That castle is an exact reproduction of the one that he selected upon the banks of the Rhine.
My belief is that the most joyous hours of his life were those spent during the summer seasons at this New Hampshire castle. I have seen Uncle Ben many times sitting in a large chair upon the broad verandah looking out through the arches at the view before him.
On one occasion he said to me, "Where in the world can you find a more superb view, one that has greater diversity of scenery, than the one that lies before us?"
It is a remarkable view, seven hundred fee below were the sparkling waters of Winnipesaukee, dotted with its hundreds of islands, each rich with summer verdure extending to the very water's edge.
Farther to the north were the silvery waters of Lake Asquam, hedged in by the Sandwich Dome. Still farther to the north, the Presidential Range--Mount Washington in bold relief piercing the fleecy clouds Farther to the west, Lafayette, Lincoln, and Moosilauke, and still farther to the west the mountains of Vermont. To the east, beyond Ossipee, were the mountains on the westerly line of Maine, and to the south, Belknap and Gunstock, as though keeping guard over the castle.
Upon the broad verandah, Uncle Ben would not only discuss the beauty of the scene, but his breast swelled with pride as he recounted the history of the New Hampshire and Old Dartmouth.
The castle is built entirely of top stones, which were quarried in Concord and brought to Laconia by train. From there, they were transported up the hill by horse and oxen teams, as were the field stone and granite obtained in back of the Locke's Hill.
Italian masons were employed to do the work, during which time they were boarded on Kimball's steamer Lady of the Lake, which was beached in Glendale and then, upon completion of the castle, disposed of in 40 feet of water an Glendale Bay.
This castle had many similarities of a fort, commencing with its overall apperance and the heavy oak front door, with wrought-iron window grating, hinges, and lion's head door knocker. All the exquisite oak woodwork was made in London and shipped to Boston view freight and reassembled inside the castle.
All wrought-iron fixtures, at which the Germans excel, were custom-made in Germany. The handsome dining and living room furniture was elegantly carved of black cherry and oak, also made in Germany.
Rooms in the castle included kitchen, pantry, four upstairs bedrooms with corner fireplaces, a sewing rom, servants' quarters, and a large combination living-dining room, with picture windows overlooking the massive stone porch was breathtaking view of lake.
When Mrs. Kimball passed away in 1960, the estate was willed to the Alvord Wild Life Sanctuary of Bear Island. It was felt that if the public wished the castle and its 250-acre park of flowers and shrubs restored and preserved for their society, the society was the most likely to inherit this fine property the proper restoration.
After being abandoned for several years, the inevitable finally happened--vandalism.
What could be carried was stolen; windows broken, wrought-iron that wasn't too heavy, removed; stacks of very rare green bulls-eye glass replacements from the windows, smashed; even the huge stone
and today's generations remember, affectionately, the bygone years of what it must have really been like to enjoy the lake in the elegance the refinement of the steamboat years. "