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Seven to Save gave ski resort's history a jump start

Two-time Olympic ski medalist Penny Pitou looks up at the 70-meter historic ski jump at Gunstock while she reminisces on her training years at the ski facility. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
October 27, 2010
The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance found it fitting to announce the 2010 Seven to Save list at Gunstock, which was on the list last year for its 70-meter ski jump.

While historic gems in need of preservation, including the Laconia Colonial Theater, were named to the latest list last Tuesday, the ski jumps at Gunstock took the spotlight with their rich history and advocates' plans for the future.

Prior to the NHPA's announcement Gilford resident and member of the newly formed Gunstock Mountain Historic Preservation Society Carol Anderson gave members insight to future plans.

During a modest gathering by the large hills that the ski jumps perch on top of at Gunstock, Anderson told the crowd about the new society, of which she is appointed president, and said the society is currently developing plans for all four ski jumps.

While both the society and the ski jumps are still a work in progress, Anderson said without ties to the Seven to Save list, the ski jumps might not have received the same attention.

"There was so much interest from people (after the list announcement) that we finally decided to preserve all four ski jumps together. The 70 meter, the 50 meter, the 20 meter, and the 10 meter ski jump," said Anderson.

Along with the four jumps, advocates are also looking to restore a coach's building and recreate a warming hut by the jumps.

Anderson assured the crowd that these efforts are not only for the sake of preserving the jumps but for Gunstock, a groundbreaking ski facility dating back to the 1932. The facility was also known for its ski lift, the second lift to ever be built in the country. The base lodge of Gunstock was built in 1937 and almost completely done by hand in order to create more job opportunities.

"Gunstock has lots of history. We are also trying to get a museum going. There are over 4,000 photos in the attic we are currently preserving, 100 blue prints, and 10,000 slides," said Anderson. "We will continue into the future. You never know what Seven to Save may do for your project."

She explained that most recent plans for restoring the jumps would have to focus on modern needs of athletes as well, since it is not farfetched to say that Gunstock may again compete in the sport of jumping and train future winter Olympians.

Two time Olympic ski medalist Penny Pitou is one of the biggest supporters for the ski jumps, particularly the 20 meter ski jump at Gunstock, which she trained on in her earlier years.

During the gathering, Pitou spoke of her ties to the Lakes Region and the beginning of her career at Gunstock years ago. The two-time medalist said the lifts were still considered relatively new when she started skiing. She said she also trained at what was known as the Belknap Mountain recreation area.

"I also love to jump and it is very special for me that the ski slopes became one of the awardees last year. It was great training for downhill skiing," said Pitou.

She reminisced about how people had to keep feeding the slope with quarters at night to ensure that the lights were on when she made her way down the slopes, but still there were times when she literally found herself in the dark.

Pitou said she also competed on the boys ski team at Laconia High School and was one of the top three jumpers on the team.

"I love the history of this area. It's a very special gathering and organization. I know people in the Lakes Region are very happy to learn about the place we live in," said Pitou. "I moved back home and I think it is the most beautiful place on earth. The more history I learn, the more it means to me."

Anderson said this is why she and other advocates decided to form the Gunstock Mountain Historic Preservation Society to take a pro-active stance in preserving all four jumps, as well as the history of Gunstock.

"This has been a very busy year for all of us. The list does make a difference. We got e-mails as far away as California," said Anderson.

Those who made the "Seven to Save" list this year include the Colonial Theater of Laconia, Mill Pond Dam of Durham, Odd Fellows Hall of Warner, Pulpit Rock Tower of Rye, the Print Shop at the Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, Brown Paper Company buildings of Berlin, and historic windows statewide.

Martin Lord Osman
Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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