Monadnock Moments No. 44: The Resort Hotel Without Any Guests
The Mount Huggins Hotel in the town of Swanzey was the dream of Miss Emma Knapp of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Miss Knapp hired two Keene contractors to build the hotel in 1883. It was located on a 75-acre lot on top of the 1,021 foot Mount Huggins in the northeast corner of Swanzey.
The hotel was an impressive building, similar to the White Mountain grand hotels of the same period. The structure was 96 x 142 feet in size and four stories high. The hotel was built of wood with a French mansard roof. The dining room, located on the second floor, seated 100 persons. There was also a ballroom on the fourth floor. The building was equipped with a steam operated passenger elevator. Tennis courts and other recreation facilities were planned for the hotel grounds.
The owner experienced financial difficulties before the building could be completed, however, and the courts gave possession of the property to the contractors in 1885. Morgan Sherman, the proprietor of Keene’s famous Cheshire House, purchased the Mount Huggins Hotel. Sherman planned to operate the hotel and began to furnish the building. Before the hotel could be opened, however, on January 11, 1888, the engineer of the late train from Boston reported that he had seen a fire in the building as the train passed through Swanzey. Sherman rushed to the scene, but it was too late. When the flames died away, the five-year-old Mount Huggins Hotel was completely destroyed, without having sheltered one guest within its elegant walls.