The Birth of a Grand Hotel: A Testament to Vision and Craftsmanship
At the dawn of the 20th century, the serene landscape of Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, was forever transformed with the construction of the Mount Washington Hotel. This grand establishment was the brainchild of Joseph Stickney, a native of Concord, New Hampshire.
Having amassed a fortune as a coal broker in Pennsylvania, Stickney envisioned a luxurious retreat for city dwellers seeking an escape from the urban hustle and bustle.
Stickney’s vision was not just about creating a hotel but crafting an experience. He employed 250 Italian artisans renowned for their granite and stucco masonry expertise to bring this vision to life. The construction process began in 1900 and was a meticulous endeavor that spanned two years.
The hotel, designed in the shape of the letter ‘Y,’ was a marvel of its time, boasting over 2,000 doors, 12,000 windows, and more than eleven miles of plumbing. The hotel’s grandeur was a testament to Stickney’s attention to detail and commitment to creating a luxurious experience for his guests.
Stickney’s pride in his creation was palpable at the grand opening ceremony on July 28, 1902.
He declared, “Look at me, gentlemen … for I am the poor fool who built all this!”
His untimely death from a heart attack within a year of the hotel’s completion was a tragic loss, but his legacy lived on in the grand tower he had created.
The Golden Era and Challenges: A Tale of Resilience
Under the capable management of John Anderson, the Mount Washington Hotel enjoyed early success. However, the advent of income tax, Prohibition, and the Great Depression significantly curtailed the hospitality business.
Despite these challenges, the hotel remained a beloved destination for many, with Stickney’s wife, Carolyn, continuing to spend her summers there for a decade after his death.
She made several additions to the hotel, including the Sun Dining Room, guest rooms above, the fourth floor between the towers, and a chapel honoring her late husband. These additions expanded the hotel’s offerings and served as a tribute to Stickney’s vision.
The Bretton Woods Conference: A Historic Moment
The Mount Washington Hotel gained international recognition in 1944 when it hosted the Bretton Woods Conference. This significant event marked the establishment of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The hotel’s owners were compensated $300,000 for losing business during the 19-day conference. To this day, each bedroom carries a plaque outside its door identifying which country’s representative stayed in that room during the conference. This is a constant reminder of the hotel’s role in a pivotal moment in world history.
Changes and Ownership: A New Era
The hotel faced closure during World War II, and in 1944, a Boston syndicate purchased the property for about $450,000. The hotel’s ownership changed hands again in December 2015 when Omni Mount Washington LLC bought it from the CNL Financial Group.
The hotel has continued to operate under the official name of Omni Mount Washington Resort. This continuity reflects the hotel’s resilience and ability to adapt to changing times while preserving its historic charm.
Mount Washington Hotel Today: A Blend of History and Modernity
Today, the Mount Washington Hotel stands as a testament to Stickney’s vision and the resilience of its management over the years. It houses an 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course and the hotel’s original 9-hole course designed by A.H. Findlay. These amenities offer guests a unique blend of history and modern luxury.
1999 the hotel marked a significant milestone by opening its first winter season. This achievement necessitated comprehensive refurbishments, which included the installation of high-efficiency windows.
In January 2009, the resort completed a 50,000 square feet addition, including a 25,000-square-foot spa and a 25,000-square-foot conference center. These additions reflect the hotel’s commitment to enhancing the guest experience while preserving its historic character.
Cultural Significance: A Landmark in Popular Culture
The Mount Washington Hotel holds a special place in popular culture. It was featured in two episodes of Ghost Hunters in 2008. An enduring urban legend suggests that the hotel inspired the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s novel, The Shining.
However, King and the hotel have discredited this legend, stating that the hotel in his novel was based on The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Despite this, the myth persists, underscoring the hotel’s cultural resonance.