Our Spirit's Home –
A chronicle written by former RDC Manager Frank Perkins in April 1985
Many people have founded institutions upon their dreams and philosophies only to find that time and the invasion of others tempered and changed those institutions. The Rockywold Deephaven Camps are unique in that they have resisted change in the basic philosophies of their founders. To be sure, we are not the same as we were in 1897, when Miss Alice Mable Bacon founded Deephaven, nor as in 1901 when Mrs. Mary Alice Armstrong founded Rockywold. Both of these pioneering women adapted and changed as time went on but held strongly to their basic principles.
It is an interesting turn of fate that brought these two strong women together to found and develop this haven of simple life. In their generation there were many women of determined will and purpose, who made their mark, but few who affected the lives of so many generations as have these two.
RDC as a Business
From 1918 to 1961 RDC operated under the careful guidance of Mrs. Armstrong and Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Howe. Buildings went up as needed and improvements were made over the years without incurring a large debt. In 1946 the camps were incorporated under NH Law as a family held stock corporation. The next generation at this point were becoming involved not only as directors of the corporation but in the operation of the camps.
During the war years Priscilla Howe, Harold's wife, assisted in the Rockywold office and later Harold worked for several summers helping to install plumbing, some of which still exists.
In 1960 Mrs. Howe stepped down as Manager and George Neilson accepted the position. Sydney Howe became President in 1963 followed by Richard Howe in 1970. Harold, Alice and Arthur Jr. each served as Vice-presidents. Arthur Howe, Jr. became President in 1973 and has served in that position to this time.
Stock was held within the family until the mid 1970's when a few shares were sold to a long time guest. Since that time, shares have continued to be divested. By 1984, 20% of the stock was owned by guests; guests who believed in what RDC stood for and wanted to insure its preservation. The value of the stock has more than doubled in the last ten years.
Many family owned resorts built at the turn of the century have disappeared because the next generation had other interests. RDC is fortunate in this respect and also in that it has adapted and adjusted to the changing times. The diversity of ownership is a big step in preserving this stable dynamic institution.
The first manager, George Neilson, took on the difficult task of conversion to management by someone outside the family. His skills carried it through and he left in 1967 to go back to secondary education.
William Jensen, formerly a Lutheran minister, took over from Mr. Neilson and guided the camps during a 14 year period of expanding numbers of guests staying for shorter periods of time than had been traditional. Also there was more rapid turnover of summer staff, all of which added complexity to Camp administration. On his retirement in 1981 Franklin Perkins, Jr. was hired to replace him.
There is much that has only been touched upon and still more that has not been mentioned to make this a complete history. This is the author's effort to pull together some of the major strands and facts that make up the fabric of RDC. Many individuals and families outside the Bacon, Armstrong and Howe families, however, have contributed a great deal to the success of RDC.
Holderness, New Hampshire