Not many of us are still around who remember when there were no automobiles or electricity, and people had to travel by train. In the mid-1800s when the railroad had arrived in Sunapee, so did the entrepreneurs, anxious to cash in on the hundreds of people who wanted to summer away from the heat of Boston and New York. Many rooming houses appeared, along with large hotels. Vacationers got off the train at Lake Station in Newbury, and steamboats took them to their hotels. Some of the boats towed barges filled with trunks and luggage for a summer-long stay.
The location of the Granliden Hotel, on the west end of Gardner Bay, was formerly known as the Scott Farm, and was purchased by sisters Carrie and Annie Covell, probably around the 1890s. According to an account dated September 9, 1821, by Mildred Bartlett, the site was famous for being in the path of a violent tornado that demolished the house and barns of Harvey Huntoon, located on the site.
Granliden was originally built as a small inn around 1890, along with several cottages. In 1905, the new Granliden Hotel, designed by Bassett Jones, a New York architect, was said to have built in one year. The announcement in the 1905 Argus newspaper extolled Granliden's virtues at its opening, noting it had "electricity". The 1906 brochure from the hotel enticed vacationers with the best cuisine on the Lake, concerts, and dance bands during the week, where, according to old-timers, many romances flourished.
The management of the Granliden Hotel even offered lower rates to young single men so that the young ladies would have dancing partners. A long list of activities included tennis, boating, swimming and golf. In those days the golf course had a tee house (now the Granliden Office), which was located at the end of the current Valli property. The first was in the area that is now to the right of Fairway Drive.
Granliden was noted as one of the finest hotels in New England. It attracted many prominent people, such as noted dance instructor Arthur Murray, and New York Governor Al Smith. Many fell in love with the lake, bought property , and built lovely cottages and boathouses. The Granliden Hotel accommodated 250 guests, had a Waring drainage system (apparently something to brag about), a post office, an infirmary, telephone, telegraph and even a darkroom for photographers.
The Hotel also Boasted a physician, Dr. J. R. Nielsen, a friend and advisor to Carrie and Annie. In 1932 the prices started at $6.00 a day and $35.00 a week!
The slow decline of the grand hotels started with the invention of the gasoline engine, which enabled people to drive to any destination they wished. In 1954, the Society of Jesus, a Jesuit order bought Granliden to use as a summer retreat. It was sold in 1966 and developed as the present condominium type resort. A large auction was held to dispose of most of the contents of the hotel. People came from all over New England to but the lovely windows, doors, light fixtures, furnishings, and even the maple flooring. The remaining items were taken to the Sunapee dump. The hotel and one cottage were razed, fortunately the developer decided to sell the remaining cottages to private owners. In November of 1976, the cottage where the blue Cape Cod house now sits was burned to the ground. The remaining cottages serve as a reminder of the great past of Granliden.
Today, Granliden is still beautiful and enjoyed by all who live here. But the ghosts of Granliden still linger. On a windless night you can occasionally hear the creak of a rocking chair…..or is it just our resident bats!!
Enjoy a video about The Granliden Hotel. Dedicated to the Granliden Community
past, present, and future. July 2015.