Weeks State Park Overview
John Wingate Weeks Historic Site's Mt. Prospect estate was built at the direction of John Wingate Weeks, leading conservationist, U.S. congressman, U.S. senator, and Secretary of War under Presidents Harding and Coolidge.
The 420-acre Mt. Prospect estate was given to the state of New Hampshire in 1941 by John Weeks' children, Katherine Weeks Davidge and Sinclair Weeks.
Set at the very top of Mt. Prospect in Lancaster, New Hampshire, the house and grounds provide a 360-degree panorama of mountain splendor, including the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the Kilkenny Range, the Percy Peaks, and the upper Connecticut River Valley.
Enjoy the view from the historic tower and take a tour of the lodge and museum.
Mountain Road Scenic Byway
The approximately 1.5 mile auto road was the first road in NH to be nominated to the NH Scenic Byways Program.
The construction of the road for Mr. Weeks was undertaken in 1911 and completed the following year. It was an impressive undertaking for its time. The road crew, at times consisting as many as 75 workers, blasted and carved the road from the side of the mountain, on occasion requiring filling to a depth of 20 feet.
The road is maintained by the NH Department of Transportation. It is generally open to automobiles from Memorial Day to Columbus Day but it is open to hikers year round.
Summit Lodge and Museum
The main house, called the “lodge” is built of fieldstone with a stucco exterior. Its gable roof, with “eyebrows” accenting the windows, is covered with red terra cotta tiles. The plan and form of the house are mostly original and its architectural style is not easily defined but certainly bears Craftsman influences. The lodge is listed in the National Register of Historic places.
Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the house is the 30 by 70 foot living room, or great room, which makes up the entire second floor. Its many large picture windows are most unusual for the era. Balconies take full advantage of the lodge’s mountaintop setting, providing dramatic views of the surrounding scenery. This is the wonderful venue for the summer programs put on by the Weeks State Park Association.
Tours of the lodge and museum can be scheduled at the NH State Parks website.
USS John W. Weeks Exhibit
The museum in the summit lodge is home to a special exhibit dedicated to the WWII era destroyer USS John W. Weeks (DD-701) and the men who served aboard this ship. The USS John W. Weeks saw action in the Pacific theatre during WWII.
The ship had a long and distinguished career. In later years it served in Korea and Vietnam and was decommissioned in 1972.
The exhibit is made possible through the generosity of the USS John W. Weeks Association. Their website is:
The fieldstone tower, listed in the National Historic Lookout Register, was originally built for the dual purpose of being a water storage tower and an observatory.
The tower is 56 feet high and its observation deck affords expansive views of the New Hampshire and Vermont countryside. One of Weeks’ motives for erecting the tower, and for building the road to the summit, was to ensure that local residents and visitors could enjoy the spectacular views from the top of Mt. Prospect.
In 1941, a fire lookout observatory was added at the top of the tower. The tower is maintained by the NH Division of Forest and Lands and is open to the public.
Several hiking opportunities are available at Weeks State Park.
Perhaps the most popular hiking “trail” is the Scenic Byway auto road. The road is paved and the summit is about 1.5 miles from the entrance gate. Elevation gain is approximately 800 feet. Shortly after entering the Park thru the gate, the auto road intersects the Around the Mountain Trail. This trail makes a loop around the mountain with moderate elevation changes. It is about 3 miles.
There are several other shorter trails in the Park and there is signage at various points to indicate the trails. Trail maps are available at the kiosk near the parking lot at the park entrance.
Mt. Prospect Ski Tow
Lift-served skiing on the northern slope of Mt. Prospect dates back to the early 1940’s. The initial operation was likely short-lived, however, as the area closed during World War II. After the war it reopened and operated for subsequent decades. Many local people first learned to ski on this slope.
After sitting idle for over a decade, local folks rallied and reopened Mt. Prospect Ski Tow during the winter of 2007-08.
The ski area continues to operate, when natural snow allows, with a 1957 Chevrolet powered rope tow, three trails and grooming. Volunteers staff the area, while the Town of Lancaster provides funds to cover liability insurance.
The Glades on Mt. Prospect are supported by the Granite Backcountry Alliance.