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Guest Historian Series: Stanley Turkel, CMHS
Nobody Asked Me, But... No. 148;
Hotel History: The Middlebury Inn (1827), Middlebury, Vermont*
By Stanley Turkel, CMHS
The Middlebury Inn has been in continuous operation as a hotel for more than 180 years. Nathan Wood built a three-story brick building with 50 rooms in 1827, which he called the Vermont House. Since its opening, the inn has changed its name twice (Vermont House 1827-1852; Addison House 1852-1927; Middlebury Inn 1927-present). Once it had a cupola, later a wrap-around piazza, and later still was painted yellow. Perhaps the only bit of the original building, other than the basic masonry of the main block to survive all the changes, is the fan-lighted doorway with elliptical carved decorations looking out onto Pleasant Street and the Green. The basement and part of the first floor have housed at different times offices, stores, a barber shop, and the Middlebury Post Office. For all the changes, however, the building has a continuous history of service to the town as its principal inn and a favorite meeting spot since Nathan Wood's day.
The name Middlebury came from its location in the middle of Salisbury and New Haven. Middlebury College, one of the United States' elite liberal arts colleges, was founded in 1800. In the summer, the town plays host to the annual Middlebury College language schools, as well as the College's Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, the oldest continuous conference of its kind in the nation. The true history of the Middlebury Inn is in its remarkable and unique details: the hallways of the main building wander and dip, built wide enough to allow ladies outfitted in hoop skirts to maneuver with grace. The original front desk is still located in the grand lobby. Each of the guestrooms have been outfitted with restoration wall coverings, high ceilings, brass fixtures, and period moldings.
The last addition to the inn came in 1968, when 20 modern Annex units were added under the management of the Treadway Company. The adjacent Porter Mansion, part of the Middlebury Inn, is a stately brick home built in 1825 for local merchant Jonathan Wainwright and named for its eventual owner, the William Porter family. With its graceful curving staircase, fine leaded glass entrance, exquisite marble fireplaces and intricate moldings, the Porter Mansion adds nine Victorian-style guestrooms. Therefore, the Middlebury Inn offers the perfect blend of modern comfort and classic historic charm.
*excerpted from my book Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (AuthorHouse 2013)
About Stanley Turkel, CMHS
Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion, greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.
Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. Two of his hotel books have been promoted, distributed and sold by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry and Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi). A third hotel book (Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York) was called "passionate and informative" by The New York Times. His fourth hotel book was described by The New York Times: "Nostalgia for the City's caravansaries will be kindled by Stanley Turkel's...fact-filled...Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf."
Built to Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi is available for purchase from the publisher by visiting bookstore.authorhouse.com.