Mount Washington Hotel, Carroll, New Hampshire (2)

The Mount Washington Hotel, with Mount Washington behind it in the distance, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2020:

As discussed in more detail in the previous post, the Mount Washington Hotel was the finest of the many grand hotels that were built in the White Mountains during the Gilded Age of late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was completed in 1902, and could accommodate 600 guests who paid the princely sum of $20 per night to stay here. From here, guests enjoyed expansive views of the White Mountains, including the Presidential Range, which forms a dramatic backdrop here in this scene. The hotel’s namesake mountain, looms in the distance on the right side of the photos, and some of the summit buildings are barely visible, some seven miles away and 4,600 feet higher in elevation.

Today, nearly 120 years after it opened, the Mount Washington Hotel still stands as one of the few surviving grand hotels of its era in New England. It has entertained many prominent guests over the years, and in 1944 it was the site of the Bretton Woods Conference, which was a meeting of delegates of 44 Allied nations to establish postwar international monetary policies. The hotel is now known as the Omni Mount Washington Resort, and in 1986 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark, making it one of only 23 properties in the state to earn this recognition.

Mount Washington Hotel, Carroll, New Hampshire

The Mount Washington Hotel, with its namesake mountain behind it in the distance, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2020:

The White Mountains became a popular tourist destination during the second half of the 19th century, and the region featured a number of grand hotels. However, few could match the Mount Washington Hotel, which was built here in the Bretton Woods area of Carroll, New Hampshire between 1900 and 1902. It was owned by Joseph Stickney, a coal tycoon who had been involved in White Mountain hotels since 1881, when he purchased the Mount Pleasant House. Located approximately where these two photos were taken, the Mount Pleasant House started small, but it was subsequently expanded under Stickney’s ownership and became a prosperous hotel.

Around the turn of the century, Stickney decided to build an even larger hotel across the street from the Mount Pleasant House. He hired noted New York architect Charles Alling Gifford, who designed this Spanish Renaissance-style building, as shown in these two photos. It has a Y-shaped footprint, and its most distinctive exterior features are the two large octagonal towers. The hotel was completed in 1902 at a cost of about $2 million, and it formally opened on July 31, with a ball that was attended by dignitaries such as Chester B. Jordan, the governor of New Hampshire.

Upon completion, the hotel had 352 rooms and could accommodate around 600 guests. A night’s stay cost $20, which was a substantial amount of money at the time, and it included the room and three meals. Writing about a month before it opened, the Boston Herald declared it to be “one of the largest and most perfectly appointed resort hotels not only in New England, but in the summer resort world.” The article continued with the following description of the hotel:

It will contain, besides the ordinary accommodations for the comfort of guests, many novel and attractive features. The music room is 115 by 73 feet in size, with a spacious stage at one end to be used for amateur theatricals, and the rotunda, which is 135 by 103 feet, is the largest in any hotel in New England. The octagonal dining room in the northwest wing is 84 by 84 feet, and will seat 500 people. On two sides are spacious galleries, which can be utilized for the orchestra. Every suite has a private bath, and the chambers are all very large.

On the ground floor are the indoor amusements, including billiard rooms, ping-pong tables, golf club quarters, gun room, clubroom, bicycle room, shuffle boards, a large play room for children, and a mammoth swimming pool filled with water from the Ammonoosuc River, and tempered by steam jets to the right warmth. The floor of the pool is tiled, and adjoining are dressing and toilet rooms, with facilities for Turkish baths.

The first photo was taken only a few years after the Mount Washington Hotel opened. It shows the building and grounds from the main road, about a half mile away. In the foreground is the bridge over the Ammonoosuc River and the long driveway to the hotel. In the distance is the hotel’s namesake mountain, Mount Washington, which stands beyond and to the right of the hotel. The summit is about seven miles east of the hotel, and about 4,600 feet higher in elevation. Rising 6,288 feet above sea level, it is the highest mountain in the northeastern United States, and it is flanked by other peaks in the Presidential Range, including Mount Jefferson on the far left and Mount Monroe on the far right.

The Mount Washington Hotel was a popular resort destination throughout the early 20th century, drawing prominent guests such as Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Mary Pickford, and Babe Ruth. However, the most famous gathering here occurred in July 1944, in the midst of World War II, when 730 delegates from 44 Allied nations met at the Mount Washington Hotel. Known as the Bretton Woods Conference, this meeting was held in anticipation of the end of the war, in order to establish international monetary policies for the postwar world.

The Bretton Woods Conference delegates included many of the world’s leading economists, including Harry Dexter White, John Maynard Keynes, and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr., who presided over the conference. Among the agreements reached here were the establishment of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, along with policies for currency exchange rates. The conference led to what became known as the Bretton Woods system, which remained the predominant international economic system until the early 1970s.

In the meantime, the mid-20th century was a difficult time for the grand 19th century hotels in the White Mountains. Many succumbed to fire, while others faced a slow, steady decline as the buildings aged and tourist preferences shifted. However, the Mount Washington Hotel managed to avoid the fate of nearly all its contemporaries, and it still stands here nearly 120 years after it opened.

Today, there have been few significant exterior changes to the hotel, and the scene still looks much the same as it did at the turn of the 20th century, although the trees are now much taller and partially hide the building from this spot. Now known as the Omni Mount Washington Resort, it remains one of the premier hotels in the region, and it stands as a rare surviving Gilded Age resort hotel here in New England. Because of its historic significance, particularly with regards to the Bretton Woods Convention, the hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and it was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

New Hampshire State Library, Concord, New Hampshire

The New Hampshire State Library on Park Street in Concord, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The building in 2019:

The New Hampshire State Library dates back to 1717, making it the oldest state library in the country. It has been in Concord since 1808, and for most of the 19th century it was located in the State House. However, in 1895 the library moved into this building across Park Street from the State House. It was designed by New Hampshire-born architect Amos P. Cutting, and it features a Renaissance Revival exterior built of red Conway granite with contrasting light-colored Concord granite trim. In addition to the library, it also housed the New Hampshire Supreme Court upon its completion.

The building was dedicated on January 8, 1895, in a ceremony that was attended by a number of state dignitaries. Supreme Court justice Isaac W. Smith gave a speech, as George C. Gilmore, the chairman of the library’s board of trustees, and the keynote speaker was William Jewett Tucker, president of Dartmouth College. The closing speaker was Ainsworth Rand Spofford, a New Hampshire native who served as Librarian of Congress from 1864 to 1897.

For the next 75 years, this building continued to be used by both the Supreme Court and the State Library, but in 1970 the Supreme Court moved into its current building, located about a mile away on the other side of the Merrimack River. However, the library has remained here ever since, and the building has seen few exterior changes from this angle since the first photo was taken, aside from the removal of the tower around the 1960s.

Old Post Office, Albany, New York

Looking north on Broadway from the corner of State Street in Albany, with the post office building in the foreground on the right, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

Albany’s old post office building, which is shown here in the foreground of both photos, stands at the northeast corner of Broadway and State Street, only a few hundred yards west of the Hudson River. The building opened in 1883, and it housed the post office along with several other federal offices. It has changed use since then, but it survives as an important architectural landmark here in downtown Albany.

Prior to the construction of this building, there was no federal building in Albany, so the post office and other federal agencies operated out of rented spaces. Congress finally authorized the construction of a federal building in 1872, but work on the building did not actually begin for another seven years because of funding delays. The design also changed during this time. The original plans called for a High Victorian Gothic design, but James G. Hill, the Supervising Architect of the Treasury, subsequently redesigned it to feature Renaissance Revival architecture.

The building’s cornerstone was laid in 1879, and it was ready for occupancy by December 1883, when the internal revenue office moved in. The post office opened here on the ground floor of the building in January 1884, and the other federal agencies moved in later in the year. These included the United States Customs Service, the Steamboat Inspection Service, and the United States Signal Service. The latter agency, whose duties involved weather observations and forecasts, occupied the third floor and the large tower at the corner of the building. In addition, the building featured a courtroom that was used by both the United States Circuit Court and the District Court.

The first photo was taken just after the turn of the century, about 20 years after the building was completed. There are no automobiles in this photo, although within just a few years they would become ubiquitous here on the streets. In the meantime, though, all of the vehicles in this scene are horse-drawn wagons, with the exception of the electric trolley in the lower left corner. There are a number of pedestrians on the wide sidewalk in front of the post office, including a man using crutches, and above them the street is crisscrossed by a web of electrical, telephone, and trolley wires.

This building continued to serve its original purpose until 1934, when a new federal courthouse, post office, and custom house opened immediately to the north of here on Broadway. Visible on the left side of the present-day photo, this newer building features an Art Deco exterior that was designed by the local firm of Gander, Gander & Gander. The post office moved out of that building in 1995, but it continues to be used as a federal district courthouse for the Northern District of New York, in addition to housing offices for federal law enforcement agencies.

As for the older post office here in the foreground, it remained in use as a federal office building until 1972. Then, in 1977 it was sold to the State University of New York, which had recently acquired the adjacent Delaware & Hudson Railroad Company Building. The two buildings are now connected, and they now form the SUNY Plaza, which serves as the headquarters of the SUNY system. Both buildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and then in 2020 the newer federal courthouse—now named the James T. Foley Courthouse—was also added to the National Register. In addition, all three buildings are contributing properties in the extensive Downtown Albany Historic District, which was established in 1980.

Ten Eyck Hotel, Albany, New York

The Ten Eyck Hotel, seen from the corner of State and Chapel Streets in Albany, around 1901. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

The Ten Eyck Hotel was one of Albany’s leading hotels of the early 20th century. It was built in two different stages, but the oldest section of the building, which is shown here in the first photo, was completed in 1899 at the northeast corner of State and Chapel Streets. It was named for James Ten Eyck, a local businessman whose family traced back to the early years of the Dutch settlement in Albany. He was part of the ownership group that built the hotel, and he was also its first official guest, signing his name in the register as part of the hotel’s opening on May 8, 1899.

The Ten Eyck was built in order to meet the demand for a new hotel in Albany. The city’s famous Delavan House had burned in 1894, and 16 people died in the fire. Hiram J. and Frederick W. Rockwell, the father-and-son partnership that ran the Kenmore Hotel, recognized the need for a new hotel, and they helped to form the Albany Hotel Corporation, which was established in 1897 with James Ten Eyck as one of its directors. Work on the new building began in 1898, and upon completion the Rockwells signed a long term lease to operate the hotel.

At nine stories in height, the Ten Eyck towered above its neighbors here on the north side of State Street, as shown in the 1904 photo in a previous post. The eastern side of the hotel, which is visible in that photo, was unadorned brick, but it did feature a large painted advertisement that declared the Ten Eyck to be “positively fire proof.” This fact was touted in contemporary print advertisements as well, likely in order to assure customers that it would not suffer the same fate as the Delavan, whose fire was still in recent memory.

The first photo here was taken only about two years after the Ten Eyck opened. At the time, the hotel was flanked by two older, smaller commercial blocks. On the left side of the photo is the ornate Albany Savings Bank building, which was completed in 1875. However, by the time the photo was taken, the bank had moved to a new facility on North Pearl Street, and this building here on State Street was repurposed as county offices. Directly adjacent to the hotel, on the right side of the photo, is the Tweddle Building. It was built in the mid-1880s, replacing the earlier Tweddle Hall that had burned in 1883, and it featured a mix of commercial offices and retail space.

The Ten Eyck proved to be popular, and in the mid-1910s the owners embarked on a massive expansion project. They purchased the Tweddle Building, demolished it, and constructed a new 17-story hotel building, which opened in 1917. The older nine-story section became the Ten Eyck Hotel Annex, and together these two buildings were used by the hotel for many years.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the Ten Eyck remained one of the city’s most popular hotels. It changed ownership several times, eventually becoming a Sheraton, but by the 1960s it had begun to decline. This was the case in cities across the northeast, where once-fashionable downtown hotels were losing business to newer suburban hotels and motels. A major part of this was because of companies moving away from downtown locations, and also because of changes in transportation patterns. With most people now traveling by car instead of by train, it was much easier to stay at a modern hotel right off the highway rather than navigating downtown traffic to reach places like the aging Ten Eyck.

As a result, the Ten Eyck closed in 1968, and both buildings were demolished several years later. The old Albany Savings Bank on the left side of the photo appears to have been demolished around the same time, and the entire two-block section between North Pearl and Lodge Streets was redeveloped. Now completely unrecognizable from the first photo, this scene features several modern buildings, including an office building on the right and a Hilton hotel on the left.

New York State Capitol, Albany, New York (2)

The New York State Capitol, seen from the grounds on the east side of the building, around 1895-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The building in 2019:

As discussed in more detail in the previous post, the New York State Capitol was built over the course of 32 years in the late 19th century. Its construction involved many delays, four different architects, numerous design changes, and substantial cost overruns, but by the time it was completed in 1899 it was one of the grandest state capitol buildings in the country. The first photo was taken around this time, showing the main entrance on the eastern side of the building, with its massive exterior staircase leading up to the portico.

A little more than a decade after its completion, the capitol had a fire that caused extensive damage to the western side of the building. The governor’s Executive Chambers, which are located here on the eastern side, were unaffected by the fire, and the two legislative chambers only suffered water damage. However, the State Library, with hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable books and manuscripts, was lost in the fire, and the library’s night watchman also died in the disaster.

Overall, aside from the fire the only significant changes to the capitol have been interior renovations over the years. The building is now joined by the massive Empire State Plaza immediately to the south of it, but the exterior of the capitol itself still looks essentially the same as it did when the first photo was taken. Today, the only real difference in this scene—other than the trees—is the statue of General Philip Sheridan, a New York native who served with distinction during the Civil War. This statue was designed by prominent sculptors John Quincy Adams Ward and Daniel Chester French, and it was installed in 1916 in the center of the park here on the east side of the capitol.