• Joe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #81: Mount Washington Hotel, Carroll


Ain't she grand, though?

Built in 1902, the Mount Washington Hotel is the granddaddy of the grand hotels that once dotted the New Hampshire in the 19th and early 20th centuries. New Hampshire was a destination for the idle wealthy then, and there were plush hotels throughout the state (like the Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle), but up north was the heart of things. Skiers and vacationers seeking to exchange the din of the city for the serenity of the mountains came by the trainful, from Boston and points beyond, and the White Mountains became an enclave for the nouveau-riche beneficiaries of the Industrial Revolution.


The era of the grand hotels petered out in the 1930s, as Prohibition, the Great Depression, and the automobile combined to erode the luxury hospitality trade. The Mount Washington, like others, struggled to keep its doors open, closing its doors in 1942 as World War II raged. This global conflict set the stage for the hotel's seminal moment in world history, as it hosted the 1944 Bretton Woods monetary conference. 730 delegates from the 44 Allied nations gathered in Northern New Hampshire to establish postwar financial systems, including the International Monetary Fund that later evolved into the World Bank.


A much less seismic event - though probably more fun - took place in December of 2007 when my then-boss at Citizens Bank, Peggy Jipson-Cloutier, was married at the Mount Washington. We gathered there over that frigid weekend: John Moynihan, Maria C. Bertolone, Heather Lang Couture, Sheryl Lowney-Rivera, and the rest. We ate, we danced, we drank, we got up in the middle of the night when the fire alarm was pulled. Poor Sarah Pace - she was very pregnant with Bobby (though somehow still not as rotund as her husband), but she was a trooper. We played cards in the vast, window-lined, sun-lit lounges of the grand old place, we drove around to the little shops nearby, and generally enjoyed our last outing before parenthood enveloped us. Sure, the entire global financial system was negotiated there. But did they party until the wee small hours in The Cave?


Probably.


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