WhiteMountainHistory.org                
Telling the story of 200 years  of White Mountain History
                      Mount Washington Hotel

The Mount Washington Hotel opened in 1902 but can trace its heritage back to the 1880s.  It was conceived and built by Joseph Stickney, a New York financier, who owned the Mt. Pleasant House.  The Mt. Pleasant was directly across the road from the Mt. Washington. (A motel is on the site today.)  When Stickney bought the Mt. Pleasant House in 1881, it was a plain box-like structure.  (See our page and photo album on the Mt. Pleasant.)  He added to it, remodeled it, added all the luxurious touches that his clientèle desired, and created a successful hotel.

By the late 1890s, Stickney had decided to build a new, even more luxurious hotel on land he had bought opposite the Mt. Pleasant.  It would be the first of the Grand Hotels planned and built from scratch as a Grand Hotel.  All others evolved from humble beginnings
. 


   Postcard Showing the Hotel and Many Outbuildings, c.1930

Ground-breaking for the new hotel was in 1900 and construction began in 1901. Two hundred fifty Italian craftsmen were brought in for the actual construction work.  They lived in dormitories on the property, built for that purpose.  Those dormitories, although unused, remain. 


       The Hotel During Construction.  The long building
         in the center was the barn for the Mt. Pleasant  
                  House farm, which was relocated.

The hotel, designed to be open only for the summer and early fall, included the latest amenities.  It had a railroad station and coaches to bring guests to the hotel from the station, it had a golf course designed by Donald Ross (which is still in use), it had an artificial lake, bridle paths, wagon roads, telephone service with it’s own switchboard, a telegraph, running water, bathrooms, an elevator, modern refrigeration equipment, its own electric power plant (which is still intact) a plant for making illuminating gas should the electricity fail,  a one-of-a-kind water powered printing plant to print the daily menus,  a daily newspaper for the guests, etc. (this also still survives),  a large barn for horses, a large garage for automobiles was added as were quarters for chauffeurs, dormitories for the staff (one for men and one for women), an orchestra, a choir, a heated indoor swimming pool, a billiard parlor,  and probably some things we haven’t mentioned.  A doctor and two nurses were on the premises.

The  first guests registered  on Monday July 28, 1902.  The Grand Opening Ball was held on Thursday, July 31. It was attended by the Governor of New Hampshire, owners and managers of other Grand Hotels, and dignitaries from near and far. The event was the subject of several very complimentary newspaper articles.

staff

 

Unfortunately, Joseph Stickney died in December of the following year, 1903.  He left both hotels and other property to his wife, Carolyn.  She ran both hotels until her  death in Nov. 1936. Both are buried in a granite mausoleum in Concord's Old North Cemetery.  Carolyn left both hotels to her nephew, Foster Reynolds.



Changing vacation habits, the growth of travel by automobile, and the Depression years negatively affected all the Grand Hotels, including the Mt. Washington and the Mt. Pleasant.  Mr. Reynolds decided that the Mt. Pleasant was no longer economically viable and he had it demolished in 1939.  He retained the Mt. Washington but over the next several years it went through numerous changes in ownership.  

The Bretton Woods Monetary Conference was held at the hotel in 1944. This international conference was sponsored by the United Nations and 733 delegates from 44 nations attended.  It's intent was to deal with monetary and financial issues at the end of World War II.
Substantial renovations were made to the hotel  prior to this conference, paid for by the U.S. Government.

At Thanksgiving, 1999 the hotel opened for the Winter season for the first time.  It continues today as a four season resort.  Substantial renovations have continued.  The lobby has been carefully restored to it's early 20th century appearance.

  

                   Photos of the Mount Washington Hotel 


   Waiters for the hotel, as well as caddies,  were college students.  In
   early years, the waiters lived in Camp Washington.  Caddies had 
                                      their own camp.                          
    

    
  
Suggested Reading

"The Grand Resort Hotels of the White Mountains" by Bryant F. Tolles, Jr is the basic book on the hotels.

The history of this hotel has been well chronicled in "Among the Clouds" and the "White Mountain Echo" both of which were weekly, seasonal, newspapers covering the tourist activities in the region. The "Bretton Woods Bugle", published daily by the hotel, also contains information about activities and developments at the hotel.
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