Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

Front of Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

Front of Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

While looking through the MLS the other day, we saw that the remarkable Wentworth Castle is currently for sale and is listed for a cool $1,350,000. It is out of our price range, but it can’t hurt to dream. So we did a bit of digging around to find out more about this historic home.

Here is the description of Wentworth Castle from the National Register of Historic Places:

Wentworth Castle, 1891. Contributing building.

Set on a rocky prominence about a thousand feet north of the Wentworth Hall property, Wentworth Castle is a three-story, hip-roofed building constructed of rubble and dominated by twin round towers that are topped by conical roofs. The two-story east wall of the house behind the southeast tower is curved. Extending behind the front section is a hip-roofed ell of slightly lesser height.

Birdseye View of Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

Birdseye View of Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

Centered between the two south towers the main entrance consists of an arched entrance vestibule topped by a loggia fitted with an iron screen with a cutout circle. Sandwiched between the two towers is a hip-roofed dormer, flanked by two brick chimneys. Most of the original windows on the front of the house have been replaced by modern 1/1 sash and are capped by granite lintels. Diamond paned upper sash survive on the third floor. Elsewhere the windows consist of a mix of 6/6, 6/1, 1/1 and diamond-paned sash. A number of hip dormers and triangular windows rise from the slate roof.

View of Jackson Falls from Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

View of Jackson Falls from Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

The house is surrounded by a circular driveway partially lined by stone walls. A detailed description of the interior of the house was published in a Boston Globe article in 1894 and is largely unchanged today.

Construction of the Castle was begun in 1891 for General Marshall Clark Wentworth and his wife Georgia (Trickey) Wentworth, the original proprietors of Thorn Mountain House, which became Wentworth Hall. General Wentworth was born in Jackson in 1844 and raised on his father’s farm. He served in the Civil War although his title was honorary, given to him by New Hampshire Governor Charles Bell, for whom he served as quartermaster general in 1881-2. After the Civil War, Wentworth returned to Jackson and served as the proprietor of the Thorn Mountain House, erected for his wife, Georgia, by her father Joshua Trickey, owner of the adjacent Jackson Falls House. Wentworth Hall was a tremendous success during the 1880s and 1890s and Gen. Wentworth went on to also manage other successful resorts including the Laurel House in Lakewood, New Jersey, La Pintoresca and the Raymond at Pasadena, California; and the New Frontenac in the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River as well as building the Hotel Huntington in Pasadena.

Parlor in Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

Parlor in Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

The Castle was designed by New York architect William A. Bates, who designed many of the buildings at Wentworth Hall. The design for the Castle was reportedly based on plans originally developed by Mrs. Wentworth. An earlier rendition of the design appearing in the December 1885 issue of “Buildings” depicts a structure, which is considerably more modest and lacks the second tower. The house was originally known as “Montecito” but within two years was renamed “The Towers”. It has been more commonly known as “The Castle”.

Dining Room in Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

Dining Room in Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

After General Wentworth’s death in 1915, Mrs. Wentworth sold the Castle in 1917 to the new owners of Wentworth Hall, Nathan and Estelle Amster. Under a live-lease agreement, Mrs. Wentworth was allowed to occupy the mansion until her death in 1930. The building remained unoccupied for 29 years years after her death and deteriorated considerably. The Castle was purchased in 1959 by Countess Mara de Bninska, an international humanitarian, philanthropist and hostess who repaired and modernized the building. It was purchased by David Arata in 1982 and by Don and Carol Jackson in 1989.

Kitchen in Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

Kitchen in Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

Garage, c.1940. Contributing building.

To the north of the house is a gable-front, wood-shingled garage measuring approximately 24′ X 26′ and set on a concrete foundation. There is a double-wide garage door on the gable-front, with an 8/8 window with semicircular fanlight. The south elevation is punctuated by a 6/1 window and wood-and-panel door. A wooden pergola extends from the south wall.

Sitting Room in Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

Sitting Room in Wentworth Castle in Jackson, New Hampshire

Guest House, c.1900. Contributing building.

Set on a granite foundation just north of the garage, this small cottage measures just 15′ X 25′. It is sheathed in wood shingles and capped by an asphalt roof with a decorative scalloped bargeboard. Centered on the gable-front is a glass-and-panel door flanked by a 6/1 window on each side. A horizontal wooden board acts as a window head above the door and windows. Above the board the bottom row of shingles displays a sawtooth edge. A tall brick chimney with concrete rises near the rear roof ridge.

Check out this short video of Wentworth Castle.

Dollar General Should be Ashamed in Lisbon, New Hampshire

Picture of Demolished House in Lisbon, New Hampshire via Google Maps

Demolished House in Lisbon, New Hampshire via Google Maps

Recently we became aware that Dollar General has struck again . . . this time in Lisbon, New Hampshire (follow link to see our picture gallery). A well-kept, traditional New England style home with attached barn was demolished to build a hideous Dollar General store.

We also understand that the destroyer was completely unsympathetic to people wanting to salvage and reuse materials from the doomed home. It was a “demolish and run” job.

Picture of Dollar General Story under Construction in Lisbon, New Hampshire

Adding insult to injury, as indicated by the blue dot in the Google Map below, the Dollar General breaks the smooth transition from single family homes toward downtown Lisbon. We’ve all seen this process play out a hundred times and inevitably it means the other single family homes will begin to fall one-by-one.

After all, now all of the homes around this beast are less desirable to families. If they aren’t already, they will become multi-family rentals that will suffer from neglect. Eventually, another retailer or fast-food joint will move in next to the Dollar General further gutting the area.

And, of course, the architecture of the Dollar General is simply atrocious. Welcome to Anywhere, USA! Seriously, is this a store or a nuclear fallout shelter? I could go on, but it makes me too depressed.

The Dollar General is not just an affront to the living either as it sits right next to a funeral parlor. Now grieving relatives will have to drive by this monstrosity to pay their respects. Let’s not forget about blight created by the lighted yellow sign either.

Picture of Dollar General Sign in Lisbon, New Hampshire

Alas, this is not the first time that Dollar General has struck–follow link for a summary. Dollar General is not the only culprit either, Family Dollar also has a bad habit of destroying our architectural history as well.

We can only hope that the residents of Lisbon and surrounding communities shun the new Dollar General. Until these stores feel the sting in their bottom line, they will continue to pillage our villages.

Meet Jim Hobbs in Woodsville, New Hampshire

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Parker House and Wentworth Hotel in Woodsville, New Hampshire

Parker House and Wentworth Hotel in Woodsville, New Hampshire

We have had the pleasure of knowing Jim Hobbs now for several years. He is a true story-teller which, combined with his local historical knowledge, has led to a prolific body of writing. We asked Jim a few questions about the town where he grew up, moved away, and then returned to–Woodsville, New Hampshire (which is technically a precinct of Haverhill, New Hampshire).

We have also invited Jim to write here on Northern New England Villages to share his thoughts on past, present, and future of our small towns that we all cherish–stay tuned! But first, an introduction . . .

1) Bio

James Edward Hobbs (born October 24, 1937) is a graduate of Woodsville High school. After graduating his career started as a watch repair apprentice with McAllister Jewelers in Woodsville, New Hampshire.

In the late 1960’s Hobbs moved to Baltimore to work for a nationwide jewelry leasing firms and managed the jewelry departments in five Hutzler Bros. Department stores.

James retired from the jewelry business in 2000 and started a small business website call White Mountain Biz. He is a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Carlsbad, California and taught a 13-week course on gemology at Woodsville High school.

He is an accomplished author writing over 200 books of humor and local history (follow link to buy one of his books). One of his best selling books is, “If You Believe This I’ve Got a Bridge For You!”, which contains over 100 humorous life stories.

In 1993 his children’s book series was read to approximately 850,000 children in 93 countries. Teachers in some countries used his books for teaching a second language.

Hobbs’ great-great grandfather, a shoemaker in Warren, New Hampshire, Edward G. Hobbs, came to Haverhill, New Hampshire in 1870 and his son John Hobbs, a farmer on Briar Hill, joined him in later years. John and Bessie had several children including Edward G. Hobbs, a blacksmith, who later became Chief of Police in 1943.

James, now at the young age of 80, is the last surviving male of the Hobbs family living in Haverhill, New Hampshire and is currently operating a coin, jewelry, gold and silver business in Woodsville, New Hampshire called White Mountain Trader.

2) What is one of your life’s most memorable experiences?

In the late 1970’s James, as the buyer of antique jewelry, purchased a man’s 5 stone diamond ring. One of the diamonds had a strange appearance as it didn’t display the normal brilliance expected in a diamond. It appeared to have a hazy line through the entire middle of the stone. 

James sent the diamond to the GIA and received a phone call  from an excited Richard Liddicoat, then the President of GIA. He had received numerous tributes during his lifetime, including the naming of the tourmaline species liddicoatite. But he had one honor that stood above all: “Father of Modern Gemology.” Richard passed away in 2002.

Richard explained that the diamond was the only known example of what was termed ‘Gliding’. There were no known examples until this find. Theorists had determined that such an event could occur if optimal conditions in the earth such as heat, location, pressure, etc. were present.

More specifically, the rough diamond material had to be molten but in the cooling stage. Also, and most importantly, there had to have been volcanic action within a certain distance. If, at the time of the volcanic action, a portion of the diamond material contained a weak adhesion between layers of the atomic structure there could be a slight shift in a portion of the entire mass causing a cloudy line.

James and Richard had met a couple of times in New York City at the International Gem shows. We always went to lunch and talked for hours–once we were even told they were closing and we had to leave.

James recalls that . . . one day, Richard paused during our phone conversation and then continued by asking if I would consider selling the diamond to GIA. I said absolutely not! There was silence on the other end of the phone until he finally said he thought we were friends. I said we are, but I still won’t sell the diamond. He asked why. I said because I would gift it to him. He was very relieved and said the next dinner was on him. Unfortunately, We never got to have that dinner.

The event was published, as Richard had promised, in a magazine the Institute has published since the war ended in 1945 called “Gems and Gemology.” James no longer has the copy he received, or he cannot find it since he probably lost in one of his many moves.

The magazine displayed a picture of the loose diamond and it stated information about its formation in an event called a “Gliding” and that the diamond would be used as a teaching aid at GIA. And, it was named the “Jim Hobbs of Sawyers Jewelry” diamond!

The magazines were 5 3/4 x 8 1/2” until 1981 when the size was changed to 10 x 8”. James is sure the magazine he is looking for was the smaller size, therefore pre-1981. He has purchased 25 magazines ending in 1979 with no luck. He recently found the last two magazines published in 1979 and the first two in 1980. He has not received them yet, but is hopeful. If the article isn’t in them he will have to search for the last two copies published in 1980.

If you have any of these magazines of this vintage, James would love to hear from you!

3) What was Woodsville like when you were a child?

When I was young the railroad tracks, 4-5 tracks wide, ran parallel with Central street. There were as many as 75 trains a day rumbling through town. Downtown stores were busy with locals and those arriving by train.

Rooming houses were always full, especially with railroad men that were here for the night to return back home the next day. There were several hotels in town including the Parker House and the Wentworth! And there was the theater and the Dandy Diner as well.

Parade in Woodsville, New Hampshire

Parade in Woodsville, New Hampshire

In those days the street were tree lined and music from band concerts were a weekly event. Carnivals and circuses came to town and the grammar school playgrounds were filled with children playing every summer evening. Jobs were plentiful if you were willing to shovel snow, weed gardens, deliver papers and mow lawns.

4) Compare and contrast Woodsville to today?

In earlier days everyone knew everyone and drugs were only used in hospitals.

5) How would you change Woodsville moving forward?

I would put strict restrictions on those purchasing houses just to supply rentals to those too lazy to work. Most of the landlords are not financially able to maintain our historical buildings. Most are out-of-town owners. There should be severe penalties for unkept trash receptacles and a monthly fee paid to the precinct based on the number of apartments and the number of people living in each building.

There should also be a more aggressive program for removing dilapidated, abandoned, rat, skunk and raccoon infested buildings, instead of just admitting it is a town-wide problem and then ignoring the issue! And residents have to start realizing that zoning is needed. (Editor’s Note: We have previously discussed the potential of Form-Based zoning)

Young and old alike enjoy Jim’s free downloads of his Childrens short stories!

“A. Tree”

Toothpicks, Bubbles and a Mirangus Bush!

Boris, the tame boar

“SCHROOMS”

SCHROOM MOUNTAIN

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

I FEED THE SQUIRRELS

IF I COULD BE

Mossie Children’s Book #1