Castle in the Clouds

Old Houses Under $50K History Tuesday – Castle in The Clouds

History Tuesday at Old Houses Under $50K is for informational purposes only. The beautiful old homes are usually not for sale, and if they were, they would certainly cost way more than $50K. Today we are featuring Castle in the Clouds, in Moultonborough, New Hampshire.

 

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Thomas Gustave Plant (1859-1941) was born into a poor working class family in Bath, Maine, to French-speaking natives of Quebec.

 

 

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At the age of 14, Thomas left school to help support his family, first as an ice cutter, then in a boiler factory, before becoming an apprentice at a shoe factory.

After a fire closed the Maine shoe factory, Thomas moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, a shoe-making center, where he moved up in the ranks. At age 25, he seized on an opportunity to buy a share of a shoe-making venture with a $100 investment which he won by betting on a baseball team. In 1891, at age 32, Thomas purchased his own shoe factory, the Thomas G. Plant, patenting his Queen Quality and Dorothy Dodd shoes for women.

 

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In 1910, Thomas retired while still in his 50s, with an estimated portfolio worth more than $21 million. He then proceeded to to purchase the entire side of Ossipee Mountain, from its peak to the lake,  for somewhere around $50,000. Building his estate was a monumental task which he began in 1913, calling it Lucknow after Napoleon Bonaparte’s retreat.

His modern innovations included an intercom system, central vacuum cleaning system, forced hot air heat, skylights, self-cleaning oven and fire alarms.

Plant ordered that each stone be shaped as a pentagon, and it was said that it took one whole day just to cut and lay three stones.  A Spanish slate roof, hand-hewn interior wood and leaded glass windows graced the mansion.

As an eccentric, it is told that while building his estate, Thomas fell in love with his secretary, Olive Dewey, who was 26 younger and and 12 inches taller than he. On a certain morning his wife came down to breakfast to find a $1 million check rolled up in her napkin on the table. Taking the hint, she left the same day, and Thomas soon married Olive.

Thomas died in 1941 at age 83 from complications from a surgical procedure.

 

Today, the estate, known as Castle in the Clouds, is a place you can visit, walk the trails, enjoy birding, attend yoga classes, even hold a wedding.

 

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3 Comments

  • George Bahr

    So interesting, the history of this estate! Just wondering how much land of the original estate is left, often large land estates get whittle down over the years.
    Talk about rags to riches, this guy had the Midas touch, thats for sure.
    That kind of money back then would have made him a billionaire by our standards.

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