History Mountain View House - Grand Resort, Whitefield New Hampshire

The Mountain View House is located in Whitefield, in the heart of the northern White Mountains. It first opened in 1866 - due to an accident, according to Dodge family tradition. In 1865 a stage coach en route to Montreal overturned some three miles north of Whitefield's town center. The driver directed his two passengers to a nearby farmhouse owned by William Franklin Dodge (ca. 1827-1919) and Mary Eastman Dodge, who took them in. The visitors were so charmed by the view, they stayed a few extra days and then returned that summer for several weeks. The following year, in 1866, the Dodges built an annex to then" farmhouse to accommodate visitors and officially opened the hotel. They advertised in Boston papers that they welcomed summer boarders.

Guests were treated not only to a captivating view, but to home-cooked meals that relied heavily on produce, meat and dairy products from the Dodge's farm. The couple divided its work in traditional fashion: Mary Dodge cooked and served meals, while William Dodge ran the farm and drove guests around the countryside. As guests increased, the Dodges added onto their hotel, initially demolishing (or engulfing) their farmhouse, and later by adding another large wing every four to ten years. The first major addition, a mansard-roof structure built in 1872 to replace their farmhouse, increased guest capacity to fifty. Eight years later, the building was doubled in size. By 1884, the hotel could accommodate 100 guests, a number that soared to 140 with yet another addition in 1891- 92. The early 1900s brought more expansion with new guest room wings added in 1904- 05,1921-22 and 1927, and in 1921, a large dining room that could seat 450. At its peak, the hotel's capacity was 300 guests. Some of the wings were likely built by Eugene Gale (1871-post-1953), a noted local contractor who worked on many of the hotel buildings in the region.

Brochures published at various times called attention to the hotel's comfortable sitting and activity rooms, the immense oval dining room, telephone service (by 1899), steam heat (installed 1901), electric lighting (1905) and bell system, and country cuisine. When the east wing was added in 1904-05, it was designed so that it could be isolated from the rest of the hotel, allowing the Dodges to have a modest number of guests during the cold winter months.

Behind the hotel, the Dodges gradually erected dormitories for hotel staff, a separate dormitory for guest chauffeurs, barn, garages, and greenhouse. They even recycled obsolete buildings: when the 1904-05 wing replaced the 1866 annex, they moved the annex behind the hotel and converted it into another staff dormitory.

Recreational opportunities abounded at the Mountain View. In 1899, the hotel added a golf course, joining tennis courts, croquet lawn and baseball diamond. Indoor activities ranged from theatricals, movies, and dancing to billiards and bowling. In the late 1930s, the family erected a golf clubhouse and, the following decade, installed a swimming pool.

In 1884, nearly twenty years after the hotel first opened, Mary and William Dodge passed the management on to their son, Van Herbert (1859-1934), and his wife Alice (d. 1948). It was during their thirty-five year tenure that the facility took on grand resort hotel stature, as it grew from a single mansard-roofed block into a vast structure with three major wings. Three of the dormitories were erected under their direction. Their son and daughter-in-law, Frank Schuyler Dodge (1889-1948) and Mary Bowden Dodge, managed the hotel from 1919 until Frank's death in 1948. Under their guidance, four additional large wings and two guest cottages were constructed, as well as the golf clubhouse and swimming pool. In 1953, after five years of running the hotel on her own and adding another staff dormitory, Mary Dodge passed the operation on to her sons, fourth generation Frank Schuyler, Jr. (b. 1928) and John Bowden (b. 1930) Dodge. The brothers ran it together for fourteen years, adding Century Hall, a conference center, in 1965. Two years later, John left the business, and his brother ran it alone for another twelve years.

In 1979, with 3,000 acres, the hotel passed out of the Dodge family to Mountain View Associates, headed by Robert and Ann Diltz. The hotel proved unprofitable for the couple, and in 1986 it closed its doors. Three years later, its contents were sold at auction, and a substantial amount of the acreage sold off. After twelve years of sitting vacant, the hotel buildings and the remaining 360 acres were purchased by contractor/developer Kevin Craffey of Massachusetts. Following a certified historic rehabilitation that approached twenty million dollars and included constructing new kitchen and pool wings and enlarging many of the guest rooms, the hotel reopened in May, 2002.