We're fast running out of New England castles to visit. Of course, there are several we hope to visit, including some normally open to the public. But these are not currently open because of you know what precautions. So, it may be a while until we have another castle adventure.
That's why we've switched architectural styles even downsized a bit to visit once grand estates. Some of these have been converted into lodgings, which means an overnight road trip as well.
power loom for carpet manufacture (as in Bigelow Carpets). The larger portion of more than 50 patents that Bigelow took out were directly or indirectly connected with textile arts. Today, Erastus Bigelow is widely credited with developing the textile arts and has been dubbed the father of the modern carpet industry.
Bigelow was born in West Boylston, MA, in 1814. His father was a cotton weaver. His parents wanted him to study medicine, when his father’s business struggled, he discontinued his studies to help in his father’s cotton mill.
At 14, he invented machinery to manufacture piping cord. Then, at 25, in 1839, Bigelow invented a power-loom capable of weaving two-ply ingrain carpets. These had previously had been woven by a handloom, which only produced eight yards a day. With this first carpet loom he succeeded in obtaining 10 to 12 yards daily, and increased that number by improvements until a product of 25 yards was regularly obtained.
This was significant and changed the way Americans furnished their homes. A carpet weaver could produce 2 yards a day of 2-ply ingrain carpet. Such skilled laborers commanded high wages which meant that woven pile carpets were beyond the reach of most 18th and early 19th-century families before the carpet power loom was invented. Later, as quantity increased, prices lowered, and no longer could only wealthy families afford a parlor carpet.
|Illustration of Bigelow Carpet Company, Clinton, MA|
These terms were unfamiliar to me and here's what I learned online: Brussels carpet is a type of machine-made floor covering with the loops of the pile uncut. This process is believed to have originated in or near Brussels and became fashionable in the first half of the 19th century. All colors run with the warp, concealed, and are brought above the foundation in loops, as needed, to produce the pattern. Wilton carpets follow a similar process, but are often cut or loop products and different yarn types can be used to produce different surface textures.
|Illustration of a carpet power loon: online source|
In 1859, the Bigelow's factory village near Lancaster was officially incorporated as a separate town and named Clinton after the DeWitt Clinton Hotel, a favorite NYC hotel of the Bigelow brothers. A year later, U.S. carpet production doubled. The Bigelow Carpet Company became a leading manufacturer of carpeting in the late 19th century. The company made carpets for use in the White House, the U.S. Senate and House, Massachusetts State House, and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC.
Carpets ads appeared in widely available and highly popular consumer magazines. Later, TV commercials touted Bigelow Carpets, like this one from the 1950s. (The laugh track wasn't in the original, but the dated ad seems funny today). The ads below appeared in 1930s and 1940s magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and the Ladies Home Journal.
|Bigelow carpet ads from the 1930s and 1940s appeared in consumer magazines|
The mill complex includes six brick buildings ranging in height from two to five stories. Shut down in the 1930s, the buildings were either left vacant or used for storage, then in the 1970s, began to see increased industrial use again. In 1983, the mill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In June 2020, a suspicious fire caused damage to the first floor and basement of the large factory.
Bigelow's NH summer mansion, Stonehurst, was started in 1871 and completed in May 1872. The property included a gatekeeper's cottage, stables, and servants house.Three years later, the original house burned, and was rebuilt in 1877 following the same design. Unfortunately, Bigelow didn't enjoy the residence for many years as he died in 1879, 2 years later.
A manor is defined as an estate belonging to someone from the upper classes or nobility, (think duke or lord) with a large amount of land. The estate house is the manor home. Bigelow wasn't upper class or royalty, so his summer home was more of an estate with a very large mansion.
|Vintage Stonehurst Manor photo and swimming pool, snow covered during our visit|
Since 1946, Stonehurst has been an upscale country inn which includes the manor house, a connected motel, privately owned condominiums, and recreational facilities set on 33 acres of secluded pine forest in the White Mountains of NH.
|Main stairway leading to the second and third floors|
|Drinks are served in the cocktail lounge which has varied seating|
The grand manor house has retained much of its historical character largely intact. It includes 19th-century touches like intricate English oak woodwork and traditional light fixtures. Its 26 guest rooms are furnished in period decor as well.
|Stonehurst Manor features an eclectic collection of lighting|
|Fireplace in the lounge area which was our favorite afternoon sitting spot|
|Our second floor bedroom had a jacuzzi and small balcony|
Admittedly, Stonehurst Manor can be considered dated with its dark brown wood furniture and floral prints. Overall it has a cozy bed-and-breakfast feel. For us, it's a unique and reasonably priced not-to-far getaway and offers full service breakfast and dinner included in the room rates.
Meals are served in the Wild Rose restaurant which is also open to non-hotel guests. Our dinner options included among other choices, freshly made pasta, lobster ravioli, roast duck, seared salmon, trout, scallops, and prime rib, and included a soup or salad; desserts are extra.
|There are several dining rooms in the Irish Rose restaurant|
Despite physical alterations over the years, the historic hotel conveys an elegant impression as it did a century ago. It provides a glimpse of upper-class summer architecture and life in late-Victorian America. This was a time when families would travel either to their summer estates or to a grand hotel for the entire season
A snow-covered Mount Washington was visible from the hotel parking lot, it's the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. As noted earlier, this was a repeat visit for us and this time we stayed on the second vs. the third floor. Befitting its time period, there's no elevator; assistance is provided if needed.