The Spoonwood Saga, Part III

House for Sale

When we left off, the Greengate property had been returned to the Tolman family. But their troubles didn’t stop there.

Here are several excerpts from Karen Tolman’s The Greengate Saga 1982-1986 that explain what happened next:

An aerial view of Spoonwood Pond (right) and Greengate (top center). Click on the image for a larger view. (photo © Meade Cadot)

An aerial view of Spoonwood Pond (right) and Greengate (top center) in late summer. (photo © Meade Cadot)

Even though Renn and Barry were finally able to retrieve Greengate through an eventual settlement with the lumberman, Greengate still had to be sold to help support Newt, by now in a nursing home . . .

Barry and Renn (now back in Alaska) had a deep affection for the property and hated to sell it, especially through a realtor, where they feared they might lose control of the property and the result would likely be extensive development.

So I [Karen] had an idea. Having spent a couple of years working for Jud Hale, the editor of Yankee Magazine, in the nearby town of Dublin, I called him up.

Knowing that Jud knew Newt and had worked with him on writing a few articles for Yankee, I said, “Hey Jud, have you been following the stuff about Newt in the paper?” 

“I sure have,” he said. “What’s going on anyway?”

After filling him in on all things gossipy about our saga, I explained, “Well we’ve got to sell the place, anyway, so I was wondering if you might consider featuring it in Yankee’s House For Sale column?” 

“Oh boy,” he exclaimed, “would we ever!”

A Quick Study in Real Estate

More from Karen Tolman’s The Greengate Saga 1982-1986:

Barry and I [Karen] quickly learned the skills needed to be a good real estate agent. Neither of us possessed them.

After the House for Sale article in Yankee Magazine hit the newsstands in the middle of July, our phone rang constantly. . . We showed the property at least fifty times—trying to separate the serious from the curious. . .  

We quickly dismissed the party who arrived in a Century 21 van and the couple who flew in by helicopter. . .

The curious and serious continued to arrive. About a dozen of them became our potential buyers’ list.

One day, a nice young couple from England called. They asked to see the property. . . They wanted to walk down to Spoonwood, where they stayed a long time—and then came back again, and perhaps again. They asked about the Harris Center. I told them what we knew.  We never heard from them again. . . I guess we’ll never know their involvement, if any, in what happened next.

A short time later, Meade Cadot called, making us an offer for the full asking price. The Harris Center had an anonymous donor, from outside the organization, who wanted [the Harris Center] to buy Greengate. . . with whatever protective restrictions we could agree upon, and also with the stipulation that the Harris Center could sell the house and about 25 acres, with similar covenants. It took me about a nanosecond to say yes. . .

A Pretty Exciting Lack of Development

Finally, another article in the Oct. 7, 1985 Keene Sentinel by Martin Frank: “420 acres in Nelson to Stay Wilderness”:

NELSON—An anonymous donation of nearly $500,000 will allow the Harris Center for Conservation Education to buy and preserve a key piece of wilderness in the Monadnock Region. H. Meade Cadot Jr., director of the Harris Center, called the purchase “a pretty exciting lack of development . . . The people who donated the money [did so] with the understanding that we would put stipulations in the deed that would make it impossible for us to develop the land.”

The Spoonwood Fund

Back to Karen in The Greengate Saga:

An autumn view of sunset over Spoonwood Pond -- complete with rainbow -- as seen from Greengate. (photo © Meade Cadot)

A happy end — complete with rainbow — to the Spoonwood saga. (photo © Meade Cadot)

Over the next several months things took shape. We worked with the Harris Center to develop protective covenants. They far exceeded our own idea of restrictions, but we didn’t argue!

The Harris Center then asked for our potential buyers list. They auctioned off the house and 26 acres to the highest bidder from that list [who themselves became major Harris Center donors]. The proceeds from that sale stayed with the Harris Center and started ”The Spoonwood Fund,” a revolving loan fund that, to this day, furthers land conservation projects in the area, adding acreage to what is now known as the SuperSanctuary.

And that is the end of the Spoonwood Pond Saga!

—Meade Cadot