At the bottom of this page, you’ll find links to original contracts for the building of the hotel, the Marsh house, and a photo album.
The Fabyan House opened in 1873, named for Horace Fabyan who had operated an earlier hotel on the same site. It was called the Mount Washington House and it burned in 1853. Horace Fabyan was not involved in any way with the hotel that bore his name. A corporation headed by Sylvester Marsh, builder of the Cog Railway, started construction of the Fabyan House in 1872 and it opened in August, 1873. It was, undoubtedly, built in anticipation of the railroads soon to be built. Once the railroads were completed, Fabyans would become the main rail hub on the western side of Mt. Washington.
1873 Broadside, First Year Hotel was open. Click for larger image
Douglas Philbrook Collection
In 1874, the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad extended tracks from Bethlehem to Fabyans. That line provided service for travelers from Montreal, New York and Boston. The next year, 1875, the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad completed its tracks through Crawford Notch to Fabyans. That line brought passengers from Portland, Conway and points east. In 1876, the BC&M built a spur line to the base of the Cog Railway. This line enabled passengers to travel by train to the Cog, where they changed to the trains that went to the Summit. An 1875 brochure details the extensive railroad connections available, even before the completion of the P&O.
Fabyan House was 320 feet long and 45 feet wide. A 130 foot ell, housed the dining room and kitchens. The hotel had 250 rooms and could accommodate 500 guests. When it opened, the hotel was lighted by gas, which was produced by a gas house on the premises. It had some steam heat, a billiard room, and bathrooms (but not in guest rooms). The hotel was one of the few in the White Mountains that was not physically altered during its existence although it was redecorated from time to time and the latest conveniences would be added throughout the years. For the 1886 season, Among the Clouds (the seasonal newspaper printed at the summit of Mt. Washington) reported, “private baths and steam heating apparatus has been placed in many of the rooms”. The paper also noted that a new laundry building, powerhouse and refrigerator building had been added. Throughout its existence, the Fabyan House was noted for the fine food and wine it served. A pre-1879 wine list may surprise you. Each season, an orchestra was employed and in 1877, the Order of Railway Conductors held its Grand Ball at the hotel.
In 1879, the hotel was leased to the Barron family, who at that time owned the Crawford House and the Twin Mountain House. They also had leased, in 1882, the Mt. Pleasant House and, earlier in 1873, they had leased the Summit House on Mt. Washington. The family controlled all the hotels in the Crawford Notch area, with the exception of the White Mountain House.
Fabyan House had its own farm to produce fresh dairy products, and water came from wells drilled on the property. A large livery stable was maintained to provide horses and coaches for guests wishing to take day trips around the area or use bridle paths to scenic points. A golf course was available and teams of hotel employees competed with teams from other hotels in baseball games.
As the use of automobiles increased, the business model of all the large hotels, including the Fabyan House, suffered. Vacationers no longer spent a whole season at one hotel-they stayed only for a day or two and business declined. There were several changes of ownership in the early 20th century. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1951.
Contract for building part of the hotel
Mortgage to Sylvester Marsh
Agreement between Marsh and partners for building the hotel
1873 Freight bill for delivery of boiler and accessories
Contract for building the Marsh house
(These documents have been available through the courtesy of the Mount Washington Observatory, Gladys Brooks Memorial Library)