The Highland Croft was built by the first Vice President of US Steel at the turn of the last century. Mr. William Brown Dickson was the driving advocate for the 8-hour day – an important cause for America’s quality of family life, and a tradition upheld now by law. His influence in the early 20th century was important as a voice of conscience within industry in the hot times of the early labor movement. His pioneering efforts are now reflected in our labor laws of today that honor the 8 hour work day, promoting a balance and quality of life for working Americans everywhere.
History of the Highland Croft Estate
By Jeffrey A. Richards
More than 90 years ago William Brown Dickson, a Pittsburgh industrialist and first vice president for United States Steel Company, purchased a piece of land in the North Country of New Hampshire. With two gigantic and iconic red barns built by Dickson himself, and farmhouse, Dickson also built what would be written as the finest summer bungalow in the White Mountains. The overall property, at the time of purchase, comprised 150 acres and included a half dozen barns and outbuildings. The bungalow boasts 9 inter-connecting bedrooms, perched on a hilltop with a picturesque and breathtaking view of Mt. Lafayette. Today, the estate still exists. Its’ durability is attributed to the builders themselves. A group of masons who built the famous Mount Washington Hotel; the workmanship undeniably professional and ever-lasting.
Dickson created the name “Highland Croft”, which means mountain home, to honor is ancestry. Originally from Scotland, William Brown Dickson chose the small town of Littleton as his summer residence and a symbol of his Scottish heritage. He would bring more than two -dozen family members to Littleton each summer. Mr. Dickson also built two additional multi-bedroom homes on the property. These were said to be for getting away from the kids. It seems Mr. Dickson cherished his privacy. However, he also built a dollhouse for the grandkids.
Mr. Dickson was also interested, both personally and influentially, in the arts. He created what was to become known as the Highland Chorus, holding grand practice afternoons at the estate. The mountains were truly alive with music. The Highland Chorus members’ later put on their first concert at the Littleton Opera House on Nov. 23, 1923, boasting musically 60 members in strong unison!
The Highland Croft estate has received much honor and acclaim over the years. It has been included in books, most recently by author Bryant F. Tolles, Jr., which lists the very architectural plans for which it was built and supposedly costing only $60,000 to build. “With spacious free flowing interior spaces, this efficiently planned and beautifully sited building seems ideally suited for privacy, relaxation, and leisure-time pursuits.”
Upon Mr. Dickson’s death in 1942, the estate remained in the family. However, a short time there after, it was sold to Mr. Doug Brown and family. Mr. Brown was the caretaker of the farm and property at that time.