In 1852, when Richard Taft and his company, the Flume and Franconia Hotel Company, bought the Lafayette House at the north end of the Notch, construction began on the first Profile House and it opened in 1853, a simple three and a half story building. It was expanded several times, by the addition of first one wing and then another. A large dining room was added, outbuildings were added and starting in 1868, a number of “cottages” were constructed. There would eventually be about twenty of these cottages, which were connected to one another and the main building by covered walkways. Cottages were initially rented but were later owned by well-to-do guests who would spend the entire summer at the hotel but wanted more privacy than the hotel itself offered. A stable accommodated 350 horses and carriage sheds housed the wide variety of wagons and coaches needed.
From 1875 Snow's Travel Guide
(Bryant Tolles Collection)
In 1872, the owners of the hotel built a narrow-gauge railroad from
The hotel was practically a self-sufficient community. They operated a large farm with a herd of dairy cows and a large greenhouse. There was a power plant, a boathouse with a steam launch on
The Trout House Was One Mile North of the Hotel
(Dick Hamilton Collection)
The hotel provided employment for hundreds of local residents and a market for fresh farm products. In 1896, the hotel printed a brochure, listing by name, all the employees and their job titles. It provides a fascinating insight into the management of a Grand Hotel. There were two stage drivers, a blacksmith, an attendant for the Spring House, two engineers, a fireman, a conductor and a baggage master for the railroad, eight hostlers, two carriage washers, eighteen women worked in the laundry, there were seven dish girls, sixty-five waitresses (no waiters), and a wide variety of kitchen help. You can read the entire brochure here, through the courtesy of Bryant Tolles.
Another interesting document, this one undated but on the letterhead of the New Profile House (1906-1923) is in the collections of the
The Profile House produced numerous pieces of promotional literature describing the facilities and the advantages that their geographical location provided. One (from the Dick Hamilton Collection) from the late 1870s includes a map of the area and the stage and rail connections to the hotel. An eight page brochure for the New Profile House has several photos of the interior of the hotel and describes the attractions of the area and the hotel itself.
The “New” Profile House opened in 1906. The owners of the Profile House decided, in 1905, that the fifty-year-old hotel was showing its age. It was decided to demolish the existing structure and replace it with a new, luxurious structure. It’s likely that the opening of the Mt. Washington Hotel a few years earlier contributed to the decision to build a new hotel. Demolition of the old hotel began on Oct. 1, 1905 and the new hotel was open for the 1906 season. Only a small portion of the old hotel was retained. A part of the old dining room was converted to a large ballroom. The new hotel had 200 guest rooms, many, but not all, with private baths. By 1921, a 200 car garage had been added.
The existing “cottages” were not disturbed with the re-building. A guest annex was built, bringing the total capacity of the hotel to 600. The dining room was able to serve 400. (Details concerning the new hotel are taken from the July, 1906 issue of “Among the Clouds”.
Fully Developed First Profile House Complex, 1901
(Library of Congress)
In 1921, Colonel Greenleaf, owner of the hotel, decided it was time retire and the hotel and the surrounding 11,000 acres were sold to a syndicate headed by the 32 year old Karl Abbot. At the time, Abbott and his father owned the Uplands Hotel in
Also see “Open for The Season” by Karl Abbot, in which he discusses the Profile House and other hotels he owned or operated.
Various issues of Among The Clouds also contain information about the hotel and the improvements made year by year.