We purchased the property November 4, 1965. Our first program was the 1966 winter retreats. Starting with about 40 students on the first weekend, we purchased beds, cots, dishes, everything you need to build up our accommodations by the end of March to 90 students. The winter ministry today serves more than 275 per weekend. We continue to minister strictly to teens from January to March.
The summer family conference started off quite slow but has grown into a year round ministry to adults which includes married couples, ladies, mother/daughter, single adults, pastors, father/son, and men. It also includes the conference facilities, family camping, and rental groups. The youth ministry continues with winter retreats, now known as Encounter, two weeks of summer teen camp, known as Ascend. Our conference center has expanded its impact by offering local schools the opportunity to use the facilities as well as offer leadership development through experiential learning. Most recently (October 2016) MBC has started Launch Point, an after school program, that supports the efforts of the local school district after the district lost their federal funding.
In 1983, and a visit to Haiti, we worked with Partners with Haiti in various areas of ministry and developed sponsoring work teams until 2002 when we began our MBC sponsored ministry under then name Bridgebuilders, which we now call, Love in Motion.
History of the Ark
“Joe Cutter’s built himself an ark!” was the good-natured banter of the towns people in Jaffrey back in the summer of 1808, and it was worth the trip out to the foot of Mount Monadnock to see the farmhouse whose measurements were bigger than the town meeting house!
Raised as a farmhouse, “The Ark” offered hospitality as an “early American Inn” for nearly one hundred years. Today, owned by the Monadnock Christian Conference Center, Inc. the property comprises over one hundred acres at an elevation of 1180 feet above sea level.
The land had been “Cutter property” ever since Joe Cutter’s father, Joe Cutter Sr., ventured into Jaffrey scarcely more than a decade after the first permanent settler. He and his wife built a homestead and raised ten children between 1777 and 1793, all the while buying more and more land around the base of the mountain and clearing it for pasturage. As the largest land owner in town, he paid a fifteen dollar tax!
In 1804, Joseph Cutter Sr. divided his farm amongst his sons and moved to town for the more spirited life of a taverner. On land one hundred feet south west of the original Cutter homestead, Joe Jr. Raised his own farmhouse, commodious by the standards of any day. Actually, only twelve rooms were completed at first on the South end of the house. The North end was devoted to wood and wagon sheds. Overhead was an enormous “open chamber”.
It is said that the month-old nephew of Joseph Cutter was carried to the ridgepole when the sturdy frame of “The Ark” was raised – a ceremony that allegedly brought good luck to the house and good fortune to the baby.
Six children were born to Joseph and Phoebe (Gage) Cutter at “The Ark”. All but one grew to adulthood, but none remained to carry on the farm. In 1873, the place was put up for auction.
Joel Hobart Poole, a grandnephew of Joseph Cutter Jr., bought the house and 100 acres of land for $1500. He and Mrs. Poole, gradually restored the farmhouse, which by then, had been vacant for a number of years and neglected.
In 1874, Dr. and Mrs. William P. Wesselhoeft of Boston, delighted by the place and it’s location, asked to rent part of the house for the summer. It is said that Mr. Poole named an exorbitant price in hopes of driving them away. His terms were accepted, however, and for the next six seasons the Wesselhoefts occupied the easterly side of the house and also had two guest cottages built. Within ten years, the Pooles had summer boarders. Despite the protests of the Pooles, “The Ark” had become a business!
Poole’s son, Arthur, was later taken into partnership. Accommodations expanded in 1895 when the annex (now the Carlson Manor) was built close by. Arthur E. Poole died in 1912, and after the death of the elder in 1926, Charles Bacon, a member of the operating staff of “The Ark” for twenty years, became manager for Mrs. Poole. At the time it cost guest twenty-five cents to take a bath in “The Ark’s” one bathtub. The key to the bathroom hung with the bunch of household keys at Mrs. Poole’s waist.
In the spring of 1929, “The Ark” and it’s farm were sold to Charles Bacon. He added seven rooms in the big third floor attic and modernized the cottages. Renovations made at that time were done by the father and grandfather of the girl that Bacon’s son, Charles Jr., would one day marry and bring to “The Ark” to live.
Charles Bacon, Sr. died suddenly from appendicitis in 1932 and his wife Hattie continued business until 1948. Charles Bacon, Jr. and his wife Virginia were the owners from 1950 to 1965.
From 1873 until 1953, “The Ark” was opened to guests 365 days a year. The Bacons however did not follow quite as rigid a schedule, although for many years they operated full time from June to Mid-October. During winter weekends and school vacations “The Ark’s” cheery red doors were swung open for skiing and skating parties. Maple sugar parties in “The Ark’s” own sugar house were an annual treat.
The Monadnock Christian Conference Center, incorporated in 1965 is a camp, conference, and retreat center. MCCCI is a non-profit, non-denominational, religious, and charitable, independent corporation. The year round program under Monadnock Bible Conference includes retreats for children, teens, ladies, men, married couples, singles, families, senior adults, and the handicapped. The conference also host groups with their own programs, and sponsors work-ministry teams to Haiti.
Over the past century, the historic homestead has offered good fellowship, comfort, and relaxation midst recreational facilities that old Joe Cutter would have never dreamed about in days when the road to “The Ark” was only a blazed trail leading to “Joe Cutter’s clearing.”