Building Description Kimball Castle, Gilford New Hampshire
Kimball Castle stands on a shoulder of Locke's Hill near the south shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. The nominated property includes Kimball Castle itself, a gazebo and six service buildings - a cottage, a stable, the driver's house, an ice-house, a carriage house and a pump house. All but the pump house are located on a flat ridgetop overlooking the lake.
Kimball Castle stands at the north end of the ridgetop where,before the present forest grew up, it commanded a superb view of the lake, the Ossipee Range and the White Mountains. It is, as :the-name implies, a stone house built in Medieval castle style. The 2-story main house is connected to the 2-story kitchen wing to the" south by a short 1-story section. The walls of random rubble masonry are topped by parapets of cut stone that step up in the centers of the main house facades and to large chimnies crowned by metal chimney caps at the corners of both the main house and the kitchen wing. (The shallow hip roofs are hidden by the parapets.).
The buttressed 2-story entrance porch projects from the west facade of the main house. Its first story is an open porch with semicircular arches and wide granite steps leading up to the main door. Above the porch is a sitting room, said to have been added as an afterthought. It boasts exterior copper walls, battlements, an impressive oriel window to the west and large windows to the north and south. The entrance porch is flanked by large arches on the main floor and double windows on the second floor. The north facade has three large open arches at the main level, with double windows above them. Over the central arched double window can be seen the iron rings that once held a flagpole. The east facade of the main house is again 3 bays wide with two large on the main floor and double windows above. The short connecting section is distinguished only by an arched door on the west. The one bay east and west facades of the kitchen wing have wide segmental arched windows on the first floor and double arched windows on the second. The two doors of the wing's south facade are protected by an overhanging shingled roof.
A short flight of, steps mounts from the small entryway to the most interesting feature of the interior - a 2-story octagonal space surrounded by an octangonal balcony (supported in part by octagonal columns) and lit by an octagonal skylight. The first level of this central octagon is part of the main room of the castle, a large space that served as both a living and dining room. Like the other rooms, it has plaster walls and a hardwood floor, but it also boasts a large fireplace with a paneled mantelpiece, large arched windows to the east and west, and a ceiling of boxed beams and tongue and grooved boarding. The north third of the main floor is devoted to an open porch with five large open arches which frame the Castle's excellent views to the north, east and west.
The second story of the main house is reached by a two stage stairway which passes the well lit sitting room at the landing and ends on the balcony. The balcony has a balustrade of turned balusters and hefty corner posts with pendant drops below, and is sheltered by a coved plaster ceiling which reaches to a flat skylight once filled with amber glass. The four bedrooms in the corners and the bathroom to the south all open on to the balcony as do the two alcoves to the north and east. The bedrooms are almost identical, each with two double windows, a corner fireplace, a small triangular closet, plaster walls and ceiling. (The basement under the main house is used only for a heating plant and storage.)
The short connecting section contains only two small rooms, a back entryway and a pantry with cases for glass and china. The first floor of the service wing is the kitchen which still contains counters, cabinets and a built in icebox that was loaded with ice from an exterior door. A simple staircase leads to the two servants rooms on the second floor.
The interior woodwork is largely oak, although spruce was used in the bedrooms. As befits a summer home, the decoration of the woodwork is well Grafted but not ostentatious. A common motiff is a beaded moulding that appears, for example, on the octagonal columns, the balcony and the bedplace fireplace surrounds.
An octagonal stone gazebo (a.k.a. The Stone House or the Roundhouse) stands on the lawn south of the Castle. It is an open shelter with low walls and eight piers of rounded stone masonry, supporting a shingled octagonal roof. Cut granite steps lead to openings at the four quarters. The ceiling is tongue and groove boarding with exposed beams and rafters.
Clustered around a small service yard south of the Castle are five wooden outbuildings, all (except possibly the ice house) built in the 1890's to serve the Castle.
A shingle style cottage, once used by the gardner, stands facing the Castle. A high rough cut stone foundation supports its shingled walls and the shingled piers of its north porch. A broad hip roof with shed dormers to the east and west shelters the house and porch. The simple but charming exterior is enlivened by the eyebrow in the roof over the porch steps and the splaying bases of the walls and the porch piers.
The front door opens directly from the wide porch into the living room, which, like the cottage's other original rooms, has a hardwood floor and horizontal tongue and groove boarding walls with a low dado. But it also has a boxed beam ceiling and a small mantelpiece with a built in mirror, as well as a paneled dado rather than the vertical boarding dado found elsewhere. The other rooms of the original house are two bedrooms, a kitchen and a small bedroom. In the 1960's, a 3-room wing with a concrete block foundation, shingled walls, gable roof and modern interiors, was added to the south.
The 1-story stable, although a simpler building, echoes the cottage in its broad hip roof and its shingled walls splaying out at the base. Ornament is limited to simple bracketed eaves, a 4-row band of fish scale shingles and a louvered ventilator-birdhouse on the roof. A large sliding door on the west and a smaller door to the south are the only entries. Three stalls and a privy open off a large general workspace. The interior walls are, of course, strictly utilitarian, with the studding usually exposed, but sometimes covered by tongue and grooved boarding.
The driver's (or hostler's) house is a small single story, gable roofed shingled building south of the stable. It is virtually unornamented and has only two small rooms, a living room/bedroom to the north and a kitchen (still containing cabinets and shelves) to the south. The interiors are again sheathed in tongue and groove boarding.
The carriage house is a long 1 ½ story shingled building with five bays, all opening onto the service yard to its north. Sliding doors cover 3 bays, while pairs of hinged doors cover the other two. These spaces housed vehicles, equipment and in the westernmost bay, a shop. The roof is asymetrical, normally sloped to the south but steeply pitched on the north. Bracketed eaves similar to those found on the stable and three shingled gable dormers on the north roof are the only embellishments. Attached to the rear of the carriage house is a shingled gable roofed shed open to the south. The interiors are again utilitarian with exposed framing.
Between the driver's house and the carriage house is the one room gable roofed ice house. Its concrete foundation and novelty siding exterior suggest that it was built at a later date than the other outbuildings. The walls, sheathed on the interior with tongue and groove boarding, are thick and were probably once filled with sawdust insulation.
Down the hill next to the service driveway is a small one-room shingled hip roofed building that once served as the pump house for the estate's water supply.
The Castle's surroundings were once well landscaped with flowerbeds, terraced gardens, shrubbery and trees. But, save for a lawn between the Castle and the outbuildings, most of the property has now grown up into a dense woodland. Still to be found in these woods are the walkways, steps, terraces, walls and gateposts, often well built of cut stone. The former service drive is now the only road passable by automobiles, but the old carriageway can be followed from the Castle down to the gateway on the abandoned section of Locke's Hill Road.