There are still old camps on Lake Winnipesaukee, but the numbers are dwindling. “Camp” here can mean anything from a run-down cabin to a million-dollar waterfront home that is only used in the summer, but strictly speaking a camp is a decades-old family place on the water that has been handed down and lovingly used as a summer getaway. Over the years many of these properties have been bought up, torn down, and had large homes erected on the site. The value is in the land, not the structure.
I was lucky enough to visit one of these places last week. This particular camp has been in one family for 65 years; it was built in 1910. On almost 4 acres, it consists of 3 cottages and a generous 235’ of Winnipesaukee waterfront. The main cottage has the most charm and was obviously where the family spent most of its time.
This was the very definition of “camp” – no insulation, a leaky roof, lots of beadboard, a patchwork of 60’s and 70’s flooring. Faux brick on some of the walls. A large sleeping porch with some questionable-looking wiring and window screens that didn’t seem to have any winter covering. A hodgepodge of rooms and hallways and several building projects or repairs that looked as if they were never completed.
But evidence of love for this place was everywhere: framed newspaper clippings from the 1960s, family photos, maps, plaques, awards, a Fisherman’s Prayer. Books and games were stacked up, waiting to be used, and the old upright piano held songbooks and a pile of funny hats. Fishing poles hung from the rafters. In one of the bathrooms there was a mural of sorts painted on the wall that featured barnyard animals labeled with family members’ names; I’m sure there must have been an inside joke there somewhere.
The land itself was a kid’s paradise – under the tall pines were trails, swings, a teepee, and a long sandy beach. The waterfront deck and docking system were, I suspect, worth more than the house. The trees and shrubs needed a good trim to get a clear view of the lake from the front porch, and I noticed that one of the floorboards there was squishy – I was hoping one of us didn’t fall through.
The asking price for this property was $1.9 million; it is pending and set to close next month. I understand the new owners are thrilled, but the old original cottage will probably be torn down. My co-worker will be staying at this property over the Labor Day weekend with her family, so that her grandchildren can experience what generations of other children must have found here: camp life complete with the slam of the screen door, the splash of water, and the sound of the loons at night from the bed on the screened porch.