A Long History Indeed...
The "Saxtons River Hotel" was erected in 1817 by Captain Jonathan Barron, and completed by Colonel Carter Whitcomb.
During various years, a hall in this building was occupied by the Masonic Fraternity of the town, and it was here, on June 23, 1828, that the last meeting of the order was held previous to the suspension of meetings for 30 years, caused by the anti-masonic wave that swept across the country.
The hotel has seen many a lively social assembly, and it was the rendezvous of the Rockingham Company of the Twelfth Vermont Regiment in 1861.
It was written of the Hotel: "The traveling public are perfectly familiar with it. There is no fuss and feathers of extra style. Comfort and quiet are sought. It is the type of the old- fashioned, comfortable village hotel."
In 1903, a group in Saxtons River decided the town needed a larger hotel. They tore down the picturesque Inn and livery stable that had served the town so well since 1834 and built what is today the Saxtons River Inn. At the time the town was alive with a woolen mill, a lumber mill, and a variety of prosperous small industries.
The new Inn was the focal point of the town for many years, but times changed. Eventually the woolen mill was gone as well as many of the small businesses. The depression years were not kind to this small town and consequently the Inn struggled for years with a series of owners, each hoping they could make a go of it.
In the sixties the Inn was bought by Major L.L. Angus, an eccentric Englishman. The major had no intention of running an Inn but wanted a building with lots of space and the Inn was well suited as a place to live and work. Years before,The Major had left his English estate and his family to come to America to study and write about the economic system. He wrote and sold a monthly stock market newsletter, and became famous as "The Bear of Wall Street", having called the market correctly seventeen times. Eventually he decided that his Park Avenue apartment was too expensive and too small. By a twist of fate he landed in Saxtons River and proudly told of the tremendous savings that the move occasioned.
The Inn with its many rooms was perfect for him and he filled each from floor to ceiling with books and pamphlets. He claimed each room was used for a chapter in the major treatise on the economic system that he was writing. Care of the building was not his strong suit. When the major died, he left the building and its contents to his secretary. It took her six months to empty the building, sell the contents, and put it up for sale. Unfortunately by then the building was in bad shape. The side porches had fallen off, walls were cracking and coming apart, and some ceilings were falling down. The building hadn't been painted in fifteen years and the interior was dark and dirty.
At that time, Bob Campbell, a trustee of Vermont Academy, the well known preparatory school in Saxtons River, became concerned about the lack of lodging for the school and the town. At the same time his daughter, Averill, who had been working in Sugarbush, was looking for a place to start a restaurant. The Campbell family took the challenge and bought the Inn hoping it would solve both problems.
Restoration took nearly a year. The Inn's walls were repaired, and the building was painted inside and out. Averill's ten brothers and sisters all pitched in and helped, as did a number of townspeople. Beth Campbell, Averill's mother, scoured auctions to furnish and decorate the interior of the Inn. While this was going on a lucky break occurred. Nan Robertson, a feature writer of the New York Times, was looking for a family story. The sister of a local friend told her about a large family in Vermont that was fixing up the broken down Inn. She visited, took pictures, sampled Averill's cooking, and wrote a story that covered two thirds of a page in the New York Times. Later, in condensed form, the story was picked up by the New York Times Syndicate and appeared in over a hundred other newspapers across the country. The New York Times named it as one of the most attractive Inn's in Vermont at the time. Each room was decorated differently, a novelty then.
The Inn opened for business in the summer of 1973. For the next fifteen years the Campbell's successfully ran the Inn. Guests came from many states and foreign countries. While the publicity in the New York Times had been a Godsend, it was Averill's fabulous cooking and the warm welcoming atmosphere that kept guests coming. The famous copper bar became a gathering for locals and Inn guests alike. The Campbell's sold the Inn in 1988 to start other business ventures.
From then to the present, the Inn has had a number of owners, some of whom were successful and some who really didn't understand what a country Inn in a small Vermont town could be. A few years ago the Inn was bought at a foreclosure sale and the new owners, with much enthusiasm, reopened the Inn and started to rebuild the feeling of comfort and welcoming. Near the end of 2008 they decided that personal matters would keep them away from Vermont, and began looking for a buyer to take over.
Averill Larsen has again, become owner and manager of the Saxtons River Inn. With wide experience in the hospitality field, she has owned and run restaurants in Vermont and Antigua. Her most recent restaurant was “Averill’s Restaurant” in Saxtons River, and she has also been a partner at the Inn. She is current owner of the Saxtons River Village Market. Managing the Inn is not a new experience for Averill. Returning to full ownership and management this month, Averill has indicated that there will be some changes to the present Inn.
Recently an area resident commented that the Inn is the armchair of Saxtons River, as many groups meet there for special events. It is a place for organizations to hold parties and for smaller groups to engage in private luncheons. Averill hopes to expand such opportunities. Under new management the Inn is looking orward to accommodating tourists and community members alike in the coming seasons.