12-17-2008, 12:30 PM
As you all know the White Mountains of New Hampshire were once a mecca for the elite of american society before during and after the guilded age. There are few left of the grand hotels, and none from the days when the stage lines brought guests from afar. The first truly grand hotel in the White mtns in my opinion was the Profile House at Franconia, built by Richard Taft in the early 1850's. this collossus was torn down in 1905 to make way for the second "New Profile House", which subsequently burned in 1922. This first Profile House was the largest in New England for many years. The ski museum at Cannon Mtn is the former site of the old hotel. And then of course there were the grand dames of Bretton Woods like the Crawford House, built after the loss by fire of the first House on the site built in part by Tom Crawford, son of the "Veteran Pilot" himself Abel Crawford, after whom the notch is named. The second and famous Crawford House was built by a Col Eastman in 1859 only three months after the first structure burned! This hotel was the centerpiece of the White Mountains for years, with it's awesome setting, and equaly awesome mangement under Cordeanio H. Merrill (1840-1908), and then Col William A. Barron. The place was in the Barron family from 1872 untill it was sold by Billy barron in 1948 to a goup of investors from the Littleton N.H. area. Starting with Asa Barron in 1868, and ending with William A. and Harold B. Barron 80 years later is an impressive legacy to leave. The Crawford House being a favorite of Presidents and Poets alike thrived for many years, even carrying other faltering Barron hotels. It like so many others, was sadly lost to fire in the Winter of 1977. The last grand hotels still extant are the Mt Washington, The Balsams, and the Eagle Mtn House, and a couple of others in the Gorham area. Les Bonnes Nouvelles!