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Summer Vacationing in New 
England

Resorts and Hotels

 

The early years of the summer resort began in the first half of the nineteenth century, when health spas gained popularity, and the idea of the large resort hotel began to evolve. They were often very large and spacious, built with large verandahs and tall pillars. Resorts of this type became popular in places such as Newport, Rhode Island, the White Mountains, and along the coast. Summer cottages also grew to become popular in the beach communities.

 

The colonial revival period of the late nineteenth century produced the most well-known and best resort spas, some of which are still popular vacation spots today. Probably the most famous of summer resort towns, Newport, Rhode Island counted many of the wealthiest families in America among its summer residents. These mansions, or cottages, as they were called, were some of the most lavish vacation homes built. Seen here is a mansion in Newport. Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

Savin Rock, in West Haven, Connecticut, became a very popular vacation spot for people in western Connecticut by the 1870's, when transportation was made available by ferry boats and horse drawn cars from New Haven. It was known for its recreational facilities, including a playground and carousel. On the right is a bill of fare, ca. 1861, from the Savin Rock House. On the left is a drawing of the grounds at Savin Rock. Click to enlarge.

 

Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore (1829-1892), a bandmaster from Salem, Massachusetts, composed three pieces of music to honor the Crawford House, in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire. The façade of the Crawford House is shown on the cover of "The Dinner Bell Polka," sheet music, ca. 1858. Click to enlarge.

 

The formal opening of the magnificent Sea View Hotel took place with a dinner and social on July 23, 1872. Built at a cost of $102,000 by the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company, it measured 225 feet in length, with a tower 100 feet high. The hotel remained a summer haven for those of fashion and wealth until it was destroyed by fire in 1892. Shown is the "Oak Bluffs Galop" sheet music cover, ca. 1872.

 

 

 

As the nineteenth century progressed, larger hotels were built for visitors who sometimes stayed the entire summer, rather than just a few days. Among the famous hotels were the Glen House (1852), the Crawford House (1852), and the Mount Washington Summit House (1873), successor to the earlier Tip-Top House (1853). Seen here are Trade Cards from these resorts. Trade Cards are equivalent to today's business card, and were a popular means for advertisement. Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

With it's splendid new hotels, the Sea View, Pawnee House, Highland House, and Grover House, Oak Bluffs flourished during summer months in the 1870's and 1880's. Steamers came from mainland with thousands of vacationers. This image is a stereocard view of the Highland House. Click to enlarge.

 

Located in Dixville Notch, NH, the Balsam's was originally built in the 1860's as the Dix House, a small twenty-five room inn, named after the town's founding father Col. Timothy Dix. It was renamed and enlarged with new additions in the 1890's by the Hale family, and remains relatively unchanged today. Alongside the Mount Washington Hotel, it is one of the most reputable old resort hotels still in existence. Seen here is a ca. 1913 postcard. Click to enlarge.

 

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Newport
Mansion Savin
Rock House menu Dinner
Bell Palka Oak
Bluffs Galop sheet music cover Glen
House trade card Crawford
House trade card Mount
Washington House trade card Highland
House Balsam's