Historic Structures

Eagle Mountain House Hotel, Jackson New Hampshire

Date added: August 19, 2016 Categories: New Hampshire Hotel

The Eagle Mountain House is located in the town of Jackson New Hampshire itself a flourishing resort community that spawned a number of hotels and boarding houses. Jackson developed as an artists' community in the 1840s in the wake of North Conway directly to the south. The town's nestled situation in a narrow valley was particularly scenic and the fact that it was nearer by several miles to Mount Washington than any other town in the region gave it an attractive advantage. As in most White Mountain communities artists and tourists were initially housed in farmhouses which operated as seasonal boarding houses. The first hotel in Jackson was the Jackson Falls House erected in 1858. The town's development was given a major boost in the 1850s with the completion of the Glen Railroad station three miles south. From there stages brought visitors to the town. Yet the railroad's distance ensured that the town remain tranquil and removed from much of the commercial development seen farther south. During the 1880s and 1890s Jackson found itself "famous and fashionable". It had five large hotels two with casinos, and numerous boarding houses. Most of the hotels and boarding houses were clustered around the "Triangle" an open space in the village center. From there a trail led to the Eagle Mountain House the farthest removed from the village proper. The Jackson hotels suffered the same eventual demise as others in the region. Today the Eagle Mountain House is the only surviving hotel in the town that has remained in continuous operation.

Like all large hotels of the era, the Eagle Mountain House was nearly self-sufficient. Its farm produced vegetables, dairy products and meat for guests. Ice was cut from Gale's Pond and sold throughout the village. A livery on the grounds accommodated horses and carriages, but a bigger attraction was no doubt the hotel garage, complete with attendants and automobile supplies for complete servicing. On-site entertainment was provided by the hotel orchestra which offered concerts and weekly dances. Flower beds and careful landscaping dotted the grounds. Outdoor recreational facilities included a golf course (laid out in 1931), tennis courts croquet courts, shuffleboard court, and fishing and swimming in the, nearby Wildcat River. By 1926 a bathing pool had been constructed. A deer family inhabited the grounds of the hotel, amusing porch loungers and diners. The hotel's major recreational asset, however, was its proximity to the White Mountains. Directly behind the hotel were endless hiking trails. During winter months the hotel was open for special parties, often groups of Appalachian Mountain Club members who snowshoed hiked and had outdoor cookouts and meetings here. The hotel management periodically hired a team of horses to go into Pinkham Notch and break a trail to the AMC huts.

The era of the grand hotels in the White Mountains began shortly before the Civil War. Prior to this period, hotels in the area were rustic taverns, that catered to tradesmen as much as to the few visitors who braved the rugged region. It was not until transportation routes improved, initially roads and steamboats, and later the railroad, that visitors from urban centers throughout New England, as well as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and other points west, attracted by the splendid scenery, clear mountain air and social conviviality, poured into the region to spend between one and three months of the summer in residence. As tourism grew, the hotel facilities changed to cater to the growing demand for conveniences and luxuries familiar to an urban crowd. The first substantial hotels, staffed with professional managers, were constructed in the 1830s and 1840s; these were the forerunners of the "grand hotels", which emerged during the 1850s. For the next seventy-five years, the White Mountains, and particularly the towns of Jackson, Bethlethem, Carroll and Franconia, remained a favored summer spot for the wealthy and middle class.

By 1920, the automobile, once welcomed by the hotels, threatened their very survival. Faster, more convenient transportation enabled visitors to cover more ground, with subsequent shorter stays. The area was no longer a haven for the upper classes, as it became more accessible to those of lesser means with shorter vacations. Few of the grand or large-scale hotels survived the transition; they were abandoned, lost to fire or torn down. Of the dozens that stood in the early twentieth century, only five survive today (The Balsams in Dixville Notch, Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, Mountain View House in Whitefield, and Eagle Mountain House and Wentworth Hall in Jackson).