< UNITED STATES | NEW CASTLE: Wentworth By the Sea Hotel & Spa
Many states would be honored to have just one grand hotel. New Hampshire offers its visitor four remarkable grand hotels, each with a role in history all its own. New
Hampshire's White Mountains, with their endless scenery, first attracted tourists to take the Grand Tour of New Hampshire in the 19th century. The Presidential Range that envelopes Mount
Washington has 86 peaks, and dramatic notches are the only way to cross them. It was here in the notches that lodging houses to attract visitors were built in the early 1800s. When railroads
made getting to the mountains a simpler task, grand hotels were built offering luxury in the heart of the wilderness.
At one time, there were more than a dozen of these luxurious getaways in the state. New Hampshire's grand hotels once offered their own post offices, printing presses, newspapers, baseball leagues and dormitories for chauffeurs. Presidents, poets, statesmen and celebrities all signed the guest registers at one time or another.
Wentworth By the Sea attracted Boston and New York society seeking to escape the heat and crush of summer in the cities in the 19th century. Typically these guests arrived with luggage and servants sufficient to see them through a summer-long stay of several months.
The original 1874 hotel was a box-like structure. When beer baron Frank Jones took control he added Victorian architectural details, electric lights and elevators, as well as wings and outbuildings containing stables, dormitories for the staff, etc. In 1964 a fire destroyed the stables-turned-garage and dormitory. The hotel closed in 1982 when its then owners retired and would not reopen until 2003. When the current owners purchased the property and started renovation in 1997, they had to remove the guestroom wing. In the course of the subsequent $30 million reconstruction, they supplemented the historic core of three Victorian towers above the main lobby with a 10,000 sq. ft. conference center and 8.500 sq. ft. full-service spa, fitness center and indoor pool, with guestrooms above both wings.
In 1905, New Hampshire hosted the peace conference hoping to end the Russo-Japanese War ("World War Zero") of 1904-05, a modern, bloody conflict that had focused world attention on the shifting balance of power in Asia and that had nearly drained both Russian and Japan of their resources of capital and men. President Theodore Roosevelt invited both sides to meet, face to face, in a neutral setting. He chose the small seaport city of Portsmouth for its climate, the presence of the US Navy and its security and protocol at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the state of the art telecommunications afforded by the new transatlantic cable at nearby Rye Beach, the hospitality of the local people and the elegant accommodations of Wentworth By the Sea -- offered in service to the nation at no charge. The formal negotiations took place at the Shipyard. Informal negotiations and social events -- including the concluding banquet the Japanese hosted the night before the Treaty of Portsmouth was signed at the Shipyard -- took place at Wentworth By the Sea among other local Maine and NH seacoast locations. Thus, Wentworth By the Sea and the people of New Hampshire and Maine helped President Theodore Roosevelt earn his Nobel Peace Prize for orchestrating the Treaty diplomacy.
The Treaty negotiations were led by Sergius Witte, former Russian Finance Minister and railroad czar and Baron Jutaro Komura, former Japanese foreign minister to China. Theodore Roosevelt never came to Wentworth; but his cousin President Franklin Roosevelt did visit, docking his yacht at the Wentworth Marina. Other famous guests include Annie Oakley the sharpshooter (who gave shooting lessons to the hotel's female guests) and band leader Cab Calloway who performed on the Wentworth Grand ballroom stage. Today the hotel welcomes diplomats and media celebrities such as President and Mrs. Bill Clinton, Rudi Giuliani and others on the Presidential Primary campaign trail in New Hampshire.
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