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The Rest is History: New England's Most Historic Hotels

In a place as storied as New England, it’s no surprise that our hotels and inns boast such colorful histories. Some of them predate the United States, serving as family estates or modest farms, while others have seen royalty at their front desks (sometimes literally). For your fill on New England history, put down your library books and marvel at these fun facts about these historic hotels in New England.

The Snapdragon Inn in Windsor, VT is one of New England's most historic hotels.
The Snapdragon Inn used to be a gathering place for many famous authors including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

New England History: The Most Historic Hotels

Back in My Pre-Hotel Days...

  • Back in 1865, weary New Hampshire travelers stayed the night at a farmhouse that would one day become The Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa.
  • The Rangeley Inn & Tavern, one of the last remaining grand hotels in the western mountains of Maine, has seen its share of changes. In 1895, the whole property was moved in two sections to its current location on Rangeley Lake.
  • Migis Lodge in Casco, Maine used to be known as the National Camps, a cluster of cabins that provided the final leg for travelers coming in from Boston by rail.
  • The 19th century Victorian houses at The Porches Inn pay homage to the generations of mill workers’ families who once called them home.
  • What is now the Reading Room Restaurant at the Bar Harbor Inn has seen many past identities, from a private men’s club in the late 1800’s to a Navy Observation HQ during WWII.
  • What’s love got to do with it? The Windham Hill Inn was built by a young couple striking out on their own, while The Captain’s Manor Inn was built to showcase one man’s love for his future bride.
  • Up in Maine, the Nonantum Resort started off as a stately home to honor a captain’s brother lost at sea.

Hotels Of Literary Legends

  • The Snapdragon Inn was the former summer home of famed editor Maxwell Perkins, friend and mentor of Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe (all of them regular visitors to the property).
  • The Brook Farm Inn, which houses a collection of over 700 poetry books, was originally owned by a woman who raised money for the Statue of Liberty pedestal, while her close friend helped write some of the poetry that’s engraved on it.
  • In 1965, Emerson Inn was renamed from Hotel Edward after its most celebrated guest, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who frequented Cape Ann for inspiration in his poetry. Emerson first visited the area on a seaside hike with Henry David Thoereau.

Awe-Inspiring Architecture and Shocking Structures

  • The Castle Hill Inn is the former home of renowned marine biologist Alexander Agassiz and even maintains the site of his old laboratory — its detailed architecture based off the chalets of Switzerland makes it highly sought after for event rentals.
  • Southern Vermont’s Inn on Putney Road is modeled after a French Provincial chateau, while the Omni Mount Washington Hotel bears a resemblance to Spanish Renaissance structures.
  • At the Ocean Edge Resort, woodworkers were brought in from Italy to craft the fine wood carvings on stairs, ceilings, and interiors. Hotel on North’s exposed brick walls, tin ceilings, and decorative columns remain as a nod to 19th-century quirks.
  • XV Beacon’s foundation predates the United States, when the mansion was home to merchant Edward Bromfield, an “uncorrupted patriot” eulogized in 1756 as quick “to defend the invaluable liberties of the people.”

Famous Heads in New England Beds

  • Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort was built in the late 1800's as a summer cottage by John Sloane, a relative of the Vanderbilts.
  • Famous artists have been known to frequent Scarborough’s Black Point Inn, including painters like Winslow Homer, who used the coastal vistas to inspire their work.
  • The Willows at Bar Harbor has hosted the likes of the Carnegies, Melons, Fords, and Vanderbilts.
  • As its name suggests, The Trapp Family Lodge was established by the von Trapp family, who settled in central Vermont because it reminded them of their beloved Austria.

Age Is Just a Number

  • The Ashley Manor, built in 1699, has a secret passageway behind a bookcase that connects two suites. It was originally a hiding place for Loyalists during the Revolutionary War, and was later a stop for escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad.
  • The Griswold Inn, often cited as the country’s longest continually operated inn, was built in 1776 as the first three-story structure in Connecticut.
  • While The Christmas Farm Inn & Spa’s original building was built over 200 years ago, its owner expanded the property in 1883 by moving an abandoned church from just up the road and attaching it to the back of the Inn.
  • When the Binghams founded The Red Lion Inn back in 1773, travel was so difficult and uncomfortable that the Inn became known as a haven for weary travelers passing through the village of Stockbridge.
The Red Lion Inn, circa 1910.
The Red Lion Inn, circa 1910.

Who needs a time machine when you have New England? Enjoy a throwback to a different era at any of the historic hotels in New England, and ask them to give you the full scoop. Stories are made to be told, after all.