Historic 108-acre Gage Hill Farm in Wakefield protected

February 29, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE        Contact: Mike Speltz (603) 224-9945
                                                             Karen Finogle (603) 224-9945

Historic 108-acre gage hill farm in wakefield protected
Land becomes town forest offering public education and recreation opportunities

WAKEFIELD – A 108-acre farmstead, with a rich history dating back to the inception of Wakefield, is now permanently protected from development and will remain a cultural and ecological jewel for the public to enjoy.

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways recently purchased most of the old Gage Hill Farm, located on Gage Hill Road, thanks to the generosity of a private donor. The organization then donated the ownership of the land to the Town of Wakefield for the creation of a town forest and a conservation easement was given to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. All parties involved share a common goal of protecting the land and providing the townspeople of Wakefield with a special place for recreational and educational pursuits. 

The farmstead features rich forest soils and several access roads, creating the potential for its continued use as a working forest. Vernal pools and a mixture of mature white pine and young hardwood forest also provide critical wildlife habitat for moose and other native species. The property's frontage on Gage Hill Road, combined with a future intended donation of an easement on an abutting 28 acre portion of the old farm, will create a valuable buffer against development at a point less than 2,000 feet from busy Route 16.

Visitors to the old Gage Hill Farm will discover there's an air of mystery about the place. The property has three areas with piles of large, cut granite stones and plug drills – as might be seen in the foundations of old cellar holes. There is no evidence, however, of structures or quarrying in the vicinity of the piles. The Wakefield Conservation Commission intends to explore the farm's history in more detail to unearth why these artifacts are located where they are.

The former owner of the Gage Hill Farm, Elsie Johnson, also reported paranormal occurrences in the Gage farmhouse, which is in private ownership and abuts the donated 108 acres. The Gage family was one of the first to settle in Wakefield and several generations played vital roles in the community, from farming to serving as town officials. Johnson told a friend that she believed some of the Gages remain on the property "in spirit." Johnson reported many odd instances, including seeing an apparition, the opening and closing of doors and the smell of coffee and bread baking at odd times. These "visits" were considered friendly and welcomed by Johnson. There is no evidence of whether the Gage family still does haunt their land, but they would no doubt be pleased to see it remain as open space, accessible by the citizens who've inherited the community they helped begin.

For more information, please contact Mike Speltz, Forest Society land protection specialist, at 603-224-9945.

Founded in 1901, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is a 10,000-member, nonprofit organization that has helped protect more than one million acres. Visit www.forestsociety.org for more information, or call (603) 224-9945.