Monadnock Moments No. 18: The Half Way House on Mt. Monadnock
The era of the grand hotel in Cheshire County truly began with the Mountain House on Mt. Monadnock, later to be called the Half Way House.
Mountain resorts were coming into vogue in the late 1850s when the “Keene Sentinel” suggested that such a hotel was needed on Monadnock. Three years later Moses Cudworth took this advice and built a house on the mountain where he cared for the horses of day-trippers and took in occasional overnight guests.
Shortly thereafter the land was sold and George D. Rice, the new proprietor, went about building a grand new hotel. His 3½ story Mountain House was opened for business during the season of 1866.
That first season was a bright and active one. Rice advertised accommodations for 100 guests at $8 to $14 weekly, children at half rate. A refreshment stand was built on the summit, brass bands gave concerts on the summit, and on October 2nd, Luther Richardson of Stoddard and Rachel Tarbox of Sullivan were married on the summit.
Tragedy struck at the end of the first season, however. The staff closed the hotel on October 11 and headed down the mountain. As they reached the bottom, they looked back to see the building in flames.
The property was sold and the new owners built a new hotel during 1868. During the next ten years the popularity of the Mountain House grew. The hotel itself also grew as new additions more than tripled the size of the structure. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s visit was typical of that of other guests. He arrived by train from Boston at the Troy depot and traveled by coach to the hotel. Guests at the grand hotels generally traveled by train and often stayed several weeks or the entire summer.
The name was changed to the Half Way House in 1916 as the hotel continued on longer than many of its counterparts. It was still used as a summer resort when it burned on the night of April 14, 1954, bringing to a close the era of the grand hotel in Cheshire County.