Editor’s Miscellany: Getting Out More

September 1, 2011

By Kyle Hoepner

Given the nature of my job, it’s probably not a surprise that I end up spending an awful lot of time indoors. Given that an awful lot of that time is spent in some of the most beautiful houses in New England, you probably don’t feel very sorry for me. Then again, a good bit of that time is spent slaving away in the New England Home office, so it’s okay to feel a little bit sorry for me if you want.

Just recently, though, some of my indoor labor yielded an excuse to get out and about. A couple of friends and I conducted a two-day, midweek jaunt up into New Hampshire to explore the surroundings of two notable houses.

Our September/October issue (in the mail to subscribers right now; on newsstands in about two weeks) profiles Moultonborough’s Castle in the Clouds, a grand 1914 Arts & Crafts sprawl of stone and timber. Click here for our story on the house itself. Yet an equally, if not more impressive aspect of the property is its setting. Perched on the rim of an ancient volcano caldera, the house crowns some 5,000-plus acres of conservation land, including twenty-eight miles of trails and two waterfalls, and boasts unparalleled vistas across the whole of Lake Winnipesaukee and environs.

A few tantalizing (I hope) glimpses follow. First, a bosky boardwalk leading to one of the falls.

The fifty-foot Falls of Song.

On reaching the house, this is what you’ll see out back.

Stop two was The Fells, former estate of diplomat, journalist, and light poet John Milton Hay. From a start as assistant private secretary to Abraham Lincoln in the White House, he eventually became U.S. Secretary of State. The Fells is a quiet retreat on Lake Sunapee put together by Hay with his wife, Clara Stone Hay, and later enjoyed and improved by their son, Clarence, and his wife, Alice Appleton Hay. The 1889 Colonial Revival main house is quite handsome in a pleasantly casual way. But the real draw for visitors is the extensive grounds and gardens.

There’s lots of heather–one of my favorites–on the grounds.

Make that lots and lots of heather…

In addition to the expected floral borders, the estate boasts a series of lovely, shaded garden rooms…

…and a large Asian-inspired rock garden.

“Hen and chicks†succulents in the steps.

The joys of tree bark.

The rear porch would be an eminently civilized place for afternoon tea…

…with Lake Sunapee beckoning nearby.

Three friends had a wonderful trip.

It’s amazing how re-energizing even such a lightning-quick foray outdoors can be. As we head into Labor Day weekend 2011, I hope you have a few summer delights like this to look back on, too.