THANKS to everyone for the birthday well wishes last Friday. All were MUCH appreciated. We celebrated, not with gifts, but a road trip. Our first stop was at the peach-colored restaurant, Peaches in Conway, N, which serves the best berry-berry pancakes (ask Grenville). After sharing that this was a birthday trip, I was treated to a complimentary chocolate chip muffin with a candle on top! (Yes, it was shared with Grenville.) Our destination was Stonehurst Manor in North Conway, NH. Grenville treated me us to a biurthday getaway celebration.
This (very) grand turn-of-the-century mansion is located in the White Mountains. It was originally built as the summer estate for American industrialist Erastus Bigelow. Considered among the foremost of U.S. inventors, Bigelow invented the power loom and, with his brother (Horatio), started the Bigelow Carpet Company, once the largest carpet manufacturing company in the world. In 1861, he was part of a 21-member committee that founded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Mountain views from Stonehurst Manor
Bigelow bought the land for Stonehurst in 1870. Construction began in 1871 and was completed by May 1872, when the Bigelows took up residence. The original house burned down in 1875, but was rebuilt in 1877 in the same design.
Stonehurst Manor lounge
In its heyday, the Bigelow estate was a working farm of nearly 500 acres which included a gatekeeper's cottage, stables, and a separate house for servants. The manor still provides physical evidence of upper-class summer architecture and life in late-Victorian America.
Lots of holiday decorations were still displayed
The current 23-room manor interior includes English oak woodwork largely thanks to Bigelow's daughter, who refurbished and enlarged the manor in 1895. Since 1946, Stonehurst Manor has been an upscale country inn. Today, it includes the manor house, a connected motel, privately owned condos, and recreational facilities. Manor guest rooms are on the second and third floors, in keeping with tradition, there's no elevator. The first two nights of our stay, we were complimentary upgraded to a 2nd floor room with Jacuzzi and fireplace. (Hint: always play the birthday card, you can only do it once a year!)
Website photo showing our room for first two nights
We relocated to a 3rd floor room on the last night of our stay as the previous room was already booked and the manor was full. While this room lacked the spaciousness and amenities of our former accommodations, it was cozy.
Third floor bedroom for our final night stay
That also means if was much smaller, but the view was MUCH better.
View from 3rd floor bedroom
There was enough snow cover on the trails so that we could go snow shoeing on Thursday and Friday mornings.
Groomed trails and the grooming unit
The trails are maintained by local inns in the area. Guests can obtain a daily pass to go hiking, snow shoeing or cross country skiing at no additional charge.
Since we left on our trip before my birthday, there were cards to open and read when we returned home. And, so, the celebration continued!