By PAULA TRACY, Out and About
MOULTONBOROUGH – It feels like a century ago since I have been out and about to a fundraising dinner with real people.
So it was fitting that I returned to living in the Lakes Region and contributing to its community efforts by going in a bit of a time capsule to the roaring 1920s at a gala to benefit the Castle in the Clouds, high on a hilltop overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee.
Many women were dressed in gorgeous flapper dresses and sequined gowns holding long sticks containing unlit cigarettes and adorned hairpieces with feathers and beads.
They enjoyed cocktails on the lawn of the classic Lucknow estate, while men in straw bowler’s hats and suspenders mingled in the sunset light and checked out a classic 1936 car.
A live auction before dinner and the meal itself was to raise about $50,000 of the $500,000 needed to fully restore the stone gatehouse, known as the Maple Lodge, to its grandeur from a century ago, just as the non-profit group has been able to successfully restore Thomas Plant’s gorgeous Arts and Crafts style summer estate to be listed, now as a national treasure on 6,200 acres in the Ossipee Mountain range.
If you have never visited the Castle in the Clouds, now is the time to come explore its trails, historic buildings and if there is enough staff to allow for its opening, dine on a terrace overlooking the entire Lakes Region.
Particularly wonderful is this property in the fall foliage season.
I got the invite for the 6 p.m. event at 2 p.m.
I had nothing to wear but that did not stop me. My friend, Lisa’s sister had to back out of the gala at the last minute so Lisa had an extra ticket. I jumped at the chance to go, as this location is spectacular and I have not been to a fundraising event in a year and a half.
Many of the gala participants were summer residents of the Lakes while others, like myself, live here full time.
Our dinner table included two couples who have moved to their summer homes on Lake Winnipesaukee full-time, which I think is becoming a new trend, particularly since COVID-19 has driven many away from their more urban settings.
The 6,200 acres surrounding the castle have been preserved by the Lakes Region Trust while the buildings and their curtilage are conserved by another, nonprofit.
After falling into disrepair for most of the past century, the effort to return Lucknow and its associated historic properties has been a phenomenal success and work continues.
Ann Hackl, head of development for the Castle noted before dinner that the property has recently been recognized by the National Register for Historic Places as an exceptional example of a summer estate and they have noted that the property has not been altered from its classic origination. She called that honor a “rare privilege.”
The carriage house is the fourth historic building on the property which serves as office space and an outdoor dining venue with a patio that is unparalleled.
They are now facing a third restoration effort after also restoring the Brook Lodge. She said they have almost completed the main mansion restoration but now The Maple Lodge is the focus of this year’s fundraising, which was supported by the gala.
Bidding on everything from a private dinner or picnic with friends at the Castle brought in considerable gifts which were applauded by the tables, and there was great music, dancing, and a wonderful dinner.
There is something special about being together again, at a table with others, meeting new people, and benefitting a cause that will have a lasting impact on the region.
If you feel comfortable enough with the pandemic, and events are allowed to still go on, I would recommend a gala. It’s good for the soul.
Here is a link to the Castle in the Clouds. https://www.castleintheclouds.org/ is one of many nonprofits in this state which still need your support, and perhaps now more than ever after a tough past year.