Ragged Island is an 11.4 acre island. It is now owned by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust (LRCT), having been purchased on July 31, 1978. The previous owners Wheeler and Jane Beckett, owned the island for over forty years, purchasing it, along with Little Ragged, from Alice E. Lilly on October 1, 1936.
Wheeler Beckett was a world reknown composer and conductor, working for Richmond Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony were just some of his stops. The Beckett’s did little to the island from when they purchased it, with the exception of adding a studio at the north end of the island which housed Mr. Beckett’s grand piano. The other end of the island had the boathouse, the main lodge, which was used as the living room and sleeping quarters. I remember the large veranda on the front of this building looking out towards Sandy Island, down the Broads and the Belknap Mountain Range. Not too far from this building was another which was used as the kitchen and dining room. This building had murals painted by Jane Beckett’s sister, with scenes from Greece, Egypt and India.
Although this island is small, it is flat, with some great beaches. The cove where the studio once stood is a wonderful place to explore with either snorkels or kayaks. As a kid we, my island neighbors and I, would canoe over to Ragged from Little Bear to pick blueberries, as the blueberries were plentiful and large! We would also swim at the beach, and if the Beckett’s were in residence and found us we invariably were asked to leave. One time I went over alone and while there picking berries a thunderstorm came up as they are apt to do. I pulled the canoe up on shore and hid under the eaves of the studio waiting for the storm to pass. Mr. Beckett must have been in residence as there was the most beautiful piano music among the thunder claps!
Now that the island is owned by LRCT it is open to the public with a hiking trail around the island and educational programs, including a nature guide for the previously mentioned trail. Sadly most of the buildings have been removed over the years due to vandalism but the island itself is still a wonderful place to visit and explore.