Sitting above the beautiful Prospect Mountain in Lancaster, New Hampshire, sits the humble, yet historic retreat of John W. Weeks, a politician whose advocacy for environmental preservation saved much of the land in the surrounding White Mountains region. Weeks, a Lancaster native, became an important figure in both local and national politics in the early 20th-century. Serving as the mayor of Newton, Massachusetts, as well as a representative and senator for the Bay State, Weeks became somewhat of a New England hero thanks to his strong ties to the area and service in the Spanish-American War. During the war, he would swing up to the rank of lieutenant, which no doubt helped him become the secretary of war under both Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.
When Weeks wasn’t in Washington, he spent his time at his retreat on Prospect Mountain back in the Granite State. Built in 1912, Weeks’s house served as both a place to relax and host guests. President Harding would visit the estate in 1921, as well as the nearby Mountain View Grand Hotel, and so too would President Theodore Roosevelt, whose visit doubled as a hunting trip. After shooting and killing a moose on the site, he had the animal stuffed and gifted the head to Weeks as a present for his friendship. In fact, the estate boasts all sorts of taxidermied animals.
Alongside his handsome house, Weeks’s getaway is home to a stone observation tower that looks straight out of a fantastical Rapunzel retelling. The tower is now open to the public and offers dazzling views of the surrounding mountains and towns.
Perhaps Weeks’s legacy is remembered in no way better than the aptly titled Weeks Act of 1911. The Weeks Act gave the government the power to acquire private land to be “permanently reserved, held and administered as national forest lands.” The act would hand over 19 million acres of forest to the federal government for conservation efforts, including the White Mountain National Forest, wherein Weeks’s estate lies. So too does Mount Weeks, a gorgeous 3,000 footer. While most rightfully regard Theodore Roosevelt as the Father of the National Parks, credit where credit is due to Weeks for being so instrumental in establishing over 140 national parks across 42 states.
Know Before You Go
An auto road will take you straight to the estate from U.S. Route 3, but there are also hiking trails for Prospect Mountain all over Lancaster. Admission is free for the auto road and observation tower, but a tour of the estate does come with a fee.