Registered: July 2002
Location: Rock Haven Lake - West Newfield, ME
Weelahka Hall in the Ossipee Mountains housed many of the workers who constructed Thomas Plant's "Lucknow" estate or Castle in the Clouds. When construction was completed, Plant relentlessly attempted to buy all of the land between the castle and the lake. When the owners of Weelahka refused Plant had his workmen build a 'spite wall' between Weelahka and the lake obstructing their view and convincing them to sell the property.
I was unsure of my source for the above info so I wrote to dcr of photopost who I know does a lot of work at the Castle. Here is what he had to say, "The spite fence was one of the least pleasant tactics Tom Plant employed as he built his 6300 acre estate in the Ossipee Mt area. He owned from the high ridge of the Ossipees all the way down to the shores of Winnipesaukee ( close to 5 mi from mountaintop to lake, with more than a mile of lake front property on which he eventually built the Bald Peak Colony Club). One newspaper story called that a bigger estate than some owned by the lords and ladies of England - the paper christened Plant the Earl of Ossipee.
His confrontation leading to the spite fence was with the Lee family, whose ancestors were the first settlers up high on the mountainside meadow. The Lees had been there since a little before the 1790's, so you might expect that they had some attachment to the land. Plant offered them a price, but they countered with a price of their own which Plant wouldn't initially meet - and thus the fray was joined. Eventually Plant had to concede to their price, in spite of the spite fence. The Lees and the mountainside farming community that grew up around them, of which they were the acknowledged patriarchs, had a rich and interesting history of its own, with people like Whittier, Lucy Larcom and Robert Frost spending summers there in the late 1800's - not to mention the interesting exploits of some of the mountain people themselves.
The Lees had very good relations with the previous land baron, B F Shaw, the developer of Ossipee Mountain Park and the creator of Weelahka Hall, and made part of their living providing the hotel he built with fresh farm produce. By the time of the spite fence, however, Shaw was dead and the family had sold the business. Plant owned Weelakha Hall during the spite fence controversy, and he used it to house some of the around 1000 workers he had on the property for the couple of years it took to build the "castle" (he never called it that) and the system of carriage roads, stables, gate houses, etc that were part of his grand design. After the construction was complete, he razed the Hall and every other old building in the immediate vicinity so that he could build himself a private 9-hole golf course.
By visiting the Moultonboro Library you can find quite a bit of information about the Lee Settlement and the Ossipee Park and Plant eras as well. A small booklet called The Mountain People of Moultonboro gives interesting details of the Lee settlement and maybe a picture of the spite fence, altho I'm not sure of that. The library has a lot of info on the Ossipee Park and Plant eras and somewhere in the library I have seen a picture of the famous spite fence, perhaps in an old copy of a Boston newspaper. I recall that it was built in a helter-skelter fashion (to make it look as ugly as possible, I suppose) and had some not too pleasant Halloween-type pictures painted on parts of it." thanks dcr!!!!