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2/8/08 - The Gunstock Country Inn


For the present-day owners of the Gunstock Country Inn and Fitness Center, ownership of one of Gilford’s working pieces of history has become like taking possession of a time capsule. Richard, Maurine, Ed, and Louise Bastille bought the Inn in the spring of 2006 and, as a family, have worked hard to create a warm and friendly atmosphere, which focuses on down-home, family-oriented fun.

Although the Inn has gone through countless changes, both in name and physical appearance, Maurine said, “We’re all about preserving what’s here.”

The Inn began its life in the late 1930’s. It was built to house the CCC workers who helped create the Belknap Recreation Area, which is now known as Gunstock Mountain Resort. The building itself was much smaller than it is today, with a single, central fireplace which served as its only source of heat during the cold winter months. There were no individual rooms, but rather just bunks surrounding that large, fieldstone fireplace.

In keeping with the necessary frugalness of the Depression Era, wooden beams and timber were brought in from other dismantled structures and were recycled into this new building called, “The Baraks”.

The Baraks was as basic as any structure could ever be. Richard, while proudly giving a tour of the Inn, showed off framed photos of the interior of the rustic building.

“Judging by the fact that there are four or five blankets piled up on each bunk, they must have been a hardy lot to have stayed here,” he said.

Local resident, Jerry Crowley, remembered staying there during the 1940’s. “My buddy and I stayed one night only. I was 15 or 16 at the time, and it cost 25 cents a night,” he said. When asked about the heat, he commented, “There was a central fireplace and no one stoked the fire during the night. I know that we used to high-tail it out of there in the morning and go to a warm restaurant for breakfast. But, the cold never seemed to bother us.”

The lack of amenities for lodgers never seemed to deter skiers from staying at The Baraks. It was simply an inexpensive place to stay for the night, heat or no heat. Crowley summarized the sentiments of so many during those times when he said, “No one had any money back then, but we had fun!”

Laconia resident, Les Hibbert, never stayed there, but during the l940’s he used to ski on the short slope that was located directly behind the building. He said, “We used to night ski on that slope long before Gunstock had night skiing. The slope was lit with flood lights.”