Touring a New England historical home

Castle in the Clouds: a NH getaway

For Divine Design's team of architects and designers, the collective looks wholeheartedly to past innovators in order to effect the same themselves. To understand and appreciate your predecessors is to better understand yourself in any industry, really. With that said, Divine is especially lucky, for some of the earliest, most interesting works in architecture and design lie in New England.

So, while today's blog post won’t be specific to our own design + build endeavors, it illustrates the longstanding nature of quality craftsmanship. Divine architect and designer Michael Hanna spent his summer vacation in a castle in the clouds. No, seriously, Michael found historical resolve and ethereal wonder in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. Floating high at the top of the state’s Ossipee Mountain Range remains an early 1900’s mountaintop estate; the second home of Tom and Olive Plant ---a mogul in the shoe manufacturing industry for the time.

While the Plant’s themselves are undeniably a point of intrigue, it’s their stone castle sitting 6,300 acres above Lake Winnipesaukee that led Michael (and the rest of us) into total architectural nirvana.

The estate is a relic from the Arts and Crafts movement, and was an unusual nod to the ladder when it was built in 1913. The castle project was entrusted to J. Williams Beal & Sons of Boston. The before mentioned firm was one of the most successful of its kind in the New England region. J. Williams Beal and company designed and built a prolific amount in both the private and commercial sectors. Additionally, the firm since its founding in 1888 developed many of the Masonic Temples and several churches throughout the Boston area.

Besides their ambitious body of work, Beal’s contributions to innovation in the field cement him, and the castle in the clouds into an infinite legacy.

The Kitchen

The most prominent feature in the kitchen is the coal burning range built by Cyrus Carpenter & Company of Boston, MA. The range top has seven cooking plates, with an additional two ovens and two warming ovens to accompany it. The level of attention required to maintain the coals temperature while using the range's features is ambitious.

According to the castle's historical society, the kitchen range was considered the crème de la crème in 1912 standards. Besides the appliance's apparently impressive features, additional and more subtle engineering also exists in this vintage console. Subsequently, the coals' ashes were made easier for the kitchen staff to empty. The designer's of this set-up engineered a handle affixed to the side of the coal tray. Which, when turned, flipped the interior coal tray. The ashes then fell into a bin below the flooring, and inside of the basement.

Lastly, the kitchen's floor, albeit prominent and eye-catching, was foremost developed for practicality.  The green and white floor is actually interlocking rubber tiles. Subsequently, the flooring comes from the New York Belting and Packing Company. And, according to the floor's manufacturers, this "innovative" rubber technology was advertised as, "noiseless, non-slippery, water-proof, and thoroughly sanitary." Thoroughly, you don't say. Durability, and "elegant" aesthetics are two consequential features presented by New York Belting as well.

The Bathrooms

The bathrooms of the Plant's second home are what the "hipster youth" of this generation's dreams are made of. Seriously, the subway tiling with the hexagonal mosaic flooring is synonymous with today's design trends. In lieu of this, 2017 pays special thanks to the contrasting black window frames. As seen on every Pinterest board. As seen, now, inside of a 1913 castle in the sky.

The most interesting part of the several "comfort stations" throughout the home is the inclusion of the needle shower. Wondering what those slightly out of place, borderline abrasive steel pipes are in the shower's stall? Well, its not an industrial-design trend gone wrong. But rather the "needle" aspect to the shower's setup. According to historians, small holes were drilled into the circular piping so that water would shoot out at the time of a shower. The spraying of the water was claimed to "massage the internal organs". And, therefore was staple of any wealthy family's abode (or second home).

Additional Castle Highlights

~Madison Silvers