Abandoned Hyde Manor in Vermont
Hyde Manor - Hyde's Hotel, Sudbury Vermont
Hyde Manor, dating from 1865, is an example of an increasingly rare type of building complex: the 19th century resort hotel, a large and essentially self-sufficient resort which catered to affluent summer guests. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, Hyde Manor was one of the more celebrated resorts in New England and attracted guests from the Eastern Seaboard and the South.
The site originally achieved renown in 1801 when Pitt W. Hyde (1776-1823) bought a tavern located here. Hyde, a native of Pomfret, Connecticut, owned and operated a major stage-coach route from Albany to Montreal and Hyde's Tavern, located on the route, soon became a popular roadhouse stop for those in transit. Several factors contributed to the tavern's gradual expansion into a hotel: 1) the location was convenient and accessible and noted for its panoramic scenery, 2) a spring provided mineral waters for guests, an important enticement considering the early 19th century vogue of "taking the waters," 3) the Hyde family were popular and successful managers.
Pitt Hyde's son, James Kilbourne Hyde (b. 1801), was responsible for the dramatic growth of Hyde's Hotel. When a fire destroyed the original tavern/hotel in 1861, a new and larger structure was built in 1865. This, the present main building, is an impressive and stylish structure with its five-story tower and italianate features, and remains the visual focal point of the complex.
After James Hyde's death in 1870, family management of the complex was continued by James' son, Arunan W. Hyde (b. 1842). The hotel continued to prosper and, whereas most resorts in Vermont began to wane towards the end of the 19th century, Arunan Hyde sought to continue attracting guests by expanding lodging and adding recreational facilities. An addition to the main building, a large annex, service buildings, and several recreational buildings were erected towards the end of the 19th century to serve a clientele more interested in extended leisurely vacations than brief transient stops. And the change of name from Hyde's Hotel to Hyde Manor reflected this change. Around 1885-90, a bowling alley and billiard hall, cabaret dancehall (Casino), and card game building (Round House) were constructed. Water sports such as swimming, boating, and canoeing centered around Hyde Manor's boathouse built on Lake Hortonia, about 1½ miles away. Also, it is believed that Hyde Manor has the distinction of having had the 2nd oldest golfcourse in the U.S.; it was originally located behind the complex in the southeast portion of the property. In 1909, a new nine-hole golfcourse was laid out on the land directly in front of Hyde Manor by the noted links designers, Horace Rawlings and George argent.
Although the resort was patronized by families from as far away as the South, its guests were mostly drawn from New York, chiefly Albany and New York City. Even though the hotel remained open for the winter, its busiest period was during the summer months. Most visitors stayed for the entire season and returned through the third and even fourth generations. Throughout the years, noted guests included Horace Greeley, Henry Ford, Calvin Coolidge, and Harry Truman.
With the advent of World War I, Hyde Manor's business began to taper as interest in the resort hotel vacation began to shift in favor of a mobile, varied vacation with transportation increasingly more dependent on the automobile rather than the train. The Depression and gas rationing during WWII further crippled Hyde Manor. Ownership finally transferred out of the Hyde family to Edward Dhlos in 1962 who managed to keep Hyde Manor (known as Top O' the Seasons under his ownership) operating until 1973. Dhlos presently bottles spring water on this site. Although no longer catering to guests, water from the springs which originally led to the site's development is being bottled and sold.
Vermont has long been (and continues to be) a destination for tourists from all over the country. The state's scenery, mountain air, and pure water have attracted visitors since the early 19th century. This tradition continued and expanded later in the century, greatly spurred by the development of reliable transportation from the large Eastern cities and some magnificent resort complexes resulted, such as the Equinox in Manchester. Not every resort could be an Equinox, although most operators hoped it would be so; while Hyde Manor never achieved the stature of an Equinox or Bretton Woods (New Hampshire), it did lead the way as one of New England's earliest (if not the earliest) resorts. As such, it exemplifies an earlier way of life and the recreation activities of that era. Furthermore, the continuous use of the site since 1801 or earlier documents the changes from tavern to hotel to major vacation complex.
The entire property of Hyde Manor consists of about 410 acres.