Eagle Mountain House & Golf Club - One of New Hampshire's Last Grand Dames
I recently had occasion to vacate my humble abode while some renovations were being done so decided that was the perfect excuse to finally wander north to New Hampshire to stay at a historic hotel that had long been on my 'Bucket List of Places I Want to Stay' - which, when you get right down to it, is actually more like a book than a list!
Eagle Mountain House & Golf Club is nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in bucolic Jackson Village just up Carter Notch Road from the beautiful Jackson Falls. Pictured below, the photo of the Wildcat River tumbling along part of the falls is from an earlier wandering to Jackson which you can find here if you're interested in learning more about the area which includes the beautiful circa 1876 Honeymoon Covered Bridge that crosses the Ellis River. Waterfalls, covered bridges, beautiful mountains ... is it any wonder I wanted to wander back up to Jackson? Definitely not but, anyway, back to the Eagle Mountain House & Golf Resort which had caught my wandering eye long ago.
Eagle Mountain House's current building is one of the few remaining Grand Hotels of the White Mountains - expansive properties that drew in families from crowded urban centers in order to escape the summer heat - but at its beginning, it was simply a working farm. In 1879 when the idyllic artists’ colony of Jackson Village became a popular tourist destination, Cyrus and Marcia Gale of Eagle Mountain Farm opened their circa 1790 farmhouse as an inn offering accommodations for up to 12 people while also feeding them with food produced on the farm. In the late 1880s they added a few holes of golf, which was the latest fad from Scotland, and by 1890, the whole thing had turned out to be such a successful venture that the property expanded to become Eagle Hall and Eagle Mountain House with lodging for 125 guests.
The lodging business was going great until disaster struck in May 1915 when the hall and house were both destroyed by fire - a fate that befell many of the White Mountains' Grand Hotels - leaving Cyrus devastated. With his health declining and feeling that he couldn't face starting over, Cyrus sold the property to his son Arthur who designed the new hotel in the Colonial Revival style while also adding what would be the very first fire suppression system in a New Hampshire resort. The new Eagle Mountain House opened on July 4th, 1916 boasting 75 guest rooms and a veranda that wrapped around three sides of the building.
In 1926, an elevator - which remains operational to this day - was added to the premises and by 1928-29, Eagle Mountain House had doubled in size with the addition of another 60 new guest rooms, a new private dining room tucked behind the main dining room and an extended veranda on two levels. With the increasing popularity of golf in the country, in 1931 Arthur converted a portion of the property's farmland and pasture into a 9-hole golf course. As part of Carroll P. Reed's Eastern Slope Ski School which was founded in 1936 following a 1934 accident which inspired Reed to open a ski school so others might avoid his fate, the golf course secured a spot in Mount Washington Valley’s downhill skiing history when the first organized group ski was held on the course’s ninth fairway under the direction of Benno Rybizka of the famous Hannes Schneider Ski School in Austria.
Upon Arthur's death in 1957, ownership passed to his sister Marcia and her husband Orin Chadbourne who had both worked at Eagle Mountain House for decades. During their tenure as owners, they renovated the original hotel rooms to include private baths and in 1959, added a swimming pool. The Chadbournes retired in 1973 and sold the property making it the first time the resort had left Gale family ownership in over 90 years.
Following its sale, the hotel struggled under a series of owners until 1985 when Portland developers Barton A. Forbes and Michael Marino purchased it. Under their knowledgeable direction, the century-old hotel underwent a multi-million dollar restoration which returned it to the appearance and operation at the height of its popularity. In 1986, the hotel was restored as an “Historic Country Inn” by the Eagle Mountain Owners’ Association, featuring 96 privately owned rooms and suites.
Efforts to preserve the historic heritage of the Eagle Mountain House began around 1990 when the United States Secretary of the Interior nominated the hotel for inclusion on the National Registry of Historic Places, which was later approved by Congress. In 1995, the hotel was listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation and awarded membership in Historic Hotels of America.
In 2012, ownership changed again when the Heaton Companies of Palm Beach, Florida, purchased the hotel from the owners’ association trust. The purchase ended the private ownership of rooms and suites making the property a hotel once again. Ensuring Eagle Mountain House will be welcoming guests for generations to come, since taking ownership, the Heaton Companies have restored and renovated the property while preserving and maintaining its historic character. For more information on the history of Eagle Mountain House, you can click over to Historic Structures which also speaks to the popularity of the White Mountains as a destination for the wealthy beginning shortly before the Civil War.
So, having told you about some of the history of this great property, how about we take a walk around starting in the lobby at the front desk. Obviously the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic has required some changes but thankfully the charm of the building hasn't been totally covered in Plexiglas!
From the front desk you can see the stairs leading up should you not want to take a ride in the antique elevator which is located just in front of the entrance to Highfields, the hotel's restaurant.
We were on the second floor and decided to try out the elevator which worked perfectly fine! You just have to make sure that you close both doors otherwise you're going nowhere!
Not that I've been there, but the hotel's hallways made me think of the Stanley Hotel in Colorado which was the inspiration for Stephen King's novel "The Shining" which later became a rather popular movie starring Jack Nicholson. Perhaps they weren't quite as wide as those in the Stanley but I bet a youngster could definitely take a nice spin on a Big Wheel down the hallways here!
We stayed in Room 219 which is a standard double room on the second floor which was quite roomy and very comfortable. As you can see, the bedding has all been upgraded and the room features traditional New England decor. The room featured a very nice flat-screen TV and complimentary WiFi which is always a plus. Thankfully the windows open and there was a box fan in the closet as we were there on an abnormally warm November weekend and it would have been quite stuffy without that. If you look close above the bed, you can see part of the fire suppression system that Arthur had installed over 100 years ago.
The bathroom was pretty spacious and very clean. Bonus points for having a fan - something that seems to be missing from a lot of hotel bathrooms!
Something different when checking out the bath amenities these days is that you'll find the addition of hand sanitizer.
Below is a sunrise view from the window in our room. Mountain view rooms are available but this view from the side of the building had some very nice mountains in it without the extra cost! This is looking down Carter Notch Road towards Jackson Falls which is an easy walk from the inn.
This is a shot from the window located at the front of the hallway looking out across part of the golf course towards the swimming pool which you can see on the left. During the warmer season when it's open, towels are provided poolside for guests' convenience and I bet it's a great place to sit back and enjoy the views!
Back down in the lobby of course there was no one enjoying any of the comfy seating as that would have been against the Governor's Executive Order. I did my best not to loiter while getting a few photos to share!
I bet this fireplace is great on cold winter nights!
The lobby seating looked very comfortable, exactly what you would expect from a New England inn!
I really liked the phone booth in the lobby complete with an old-fashioned phone!
In the mornings, there is a self-service coffee bar in the lobby where guests can get a cup of coffee or two to take out and enjoy on the veranda or back up to the room. There were sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer nearby along with a sign asking guests to please wipe down things after getting their beverage.
To the right of the front desk, there's a small gift shop that uses this old wringer washer as a display for laundry supplies. You can also purchase travel sundries, snacks, sodas, resort wear and other specialty items. Additionally there are some historic photos and a bit of history you can read - just don't loiter!
Downstairs you'll find Jackson Hole - Eagle Mountain House's game room where there's a pool table, ping pong, and several vintage video games.
My favorite was the Avengers pinball machine! Again, there were plenty of sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer to keep guests safe and there was a change machine also just in case you ran out of quarters!
Back up in the lobby is Eagle Landing Tavern where you can have a cocktail or two and also order off the tavern menu if you've found you're hungry and are looking for something to eat.
Most folks take their beverages out to the wonderful veranda which was virtually empty on Sunday morning when I took this photo while enjoying a second cup of coffee after breakfast. The night before there had been barely an empty rocking chair while everyone sat outside enjoying the lovely weather.
Looking to the left while sitting on the veranda, you'll see golf carts lined up just waiting for eager golfers to climb in and take to the course's 9 holes that wind along the Wildcat River.
The Eagle Mountain House Golf Club leases the course from local ownership and is responsible for maintenance and operation during the golf season. The USGA-rated, par 32 golf course wends its way along the Wildcat River and is framed by spectacular mountain views from every tee. In the winter, the course serves as a vital section of the nationally acclaimed Jackson Ski Touring Foundation’s extensive cross-country trail network.
To the right as you're enjoying a nice respite on the veranda, you'll see more lovely mountain views.
While we there on Saturday evening, there was a wedding down near the Wildcat River just across from the veranda. When the happy couple came up to pose for a few photos on the front lawn, everyone on the veranda applauded and congratulated them. I believe that they were holding their reception in The Carriage House located to the rear of the property which is a very popular wedding venue.
Another view from the veranda as well as an evening photo which actually included a couple of empty rocking chairs - but only because they had just been recently vacated and I figured I had best snap a photo while I could!
I had booked the Eagle Escape Package which included a three-course dinner in either Highfields or the Eagle Tavern along with breakfast - a very good deal as that meant we only had to pay for whatever beverages we had on Saturday evening. Reservations were required so I had booked a table for 6:30 on Saturday evening in Highfields Restaurant which offers classic comfort-food in its dining room with large windows that provide lovely views of the surrounding countryside.
To start, I ordered the Carter Notch which was a very tasty blend of apple jack brandy, apple cider, bitters and orange. My Distracted Sidekick had a Blackberry Lemonade Fizz which was made with blackberry puree, lemonade and sparking soda. Unfortunately I didn't take a photo of it but it was quite pretty!
After our starters of a cup of New England Clam Chowder for me and a salad for them, my Distracted Sidekick ordered the Gulf of Maine Salmon which featured a New Hampshire maple walnut crust, citrus beurre blanc, ginger basmati pilaf and haricot verts (i.e., green beans). It was pronounced to be very, very good.
I opted for the Saturday Night Special which was a very nice slice of prime rib served with whipped potatoes and haricot verts. It, too, was pronounced to be very, very good!
As dessert was part of the package, I opted for Maple Bread Pudding served with a side of Gifford's Maple Walnut ice cream. Yum! The DS had an ice cream sandwich made with fresh-baked cookies and a choice of Giffords ice cream. Pretty sure there wasn't any left over!
Breakfast the next morning was also very good and very filling. I enjoyed an omelette with bacon, tomato and cheddar cheese served with a side of home fries along with a fruit bowl, cranberry juice and coffee while the DS had what was said to be a very, very good breakfast sandwich filled with a fried egg, bacon and Cabot cheddar cheese also with home fries, juice and coffee.
A view out of one of the dining room windows above and an old sign on the wall in the dining room below.
Before we packed up the car and left, I took a bit of a walk around the property to get some outside views.
Carter Notch in the distance.
Even though almost all of the famed New Hampshire foliage had gone by, it was still very pretty.
A last look at the back of Eagle Mountain House from the parking lot.
All in all, though it was short, we had a wonderful stay and I wouldn't hesitate to go back up again someday for another visit in spite of the fact that I've been able to tick it off in my Bucket Book! My Dad always said that he didn't like to chew his cabbage twice but I have no trouble chewing it multiple times if I find it to be particularly pleasing cabbage and such would be the case with Eagle Mountain House & Golf Club - a historically wonderful destination in New Hampshire's beautiful White Mountains!