Note: WordPress has stopped sending me notifications of updates to any of the blogs I follow. I am trying to find your recent posts, but it’s a slow process.
Last week, I featured buildings and doors from Mount Holyoke College. Today, I’m sharing some doors from the trip to the summit of Mount Holyoke, the college’s namesake. As with the hike to the summit of nearby Mt. Tom, the initial purpose of my drive – yes, there’s an “autoroad” – was to see if I could get an aerial view of the Holyoke canal system. And, as with the hike to the summit of Mt. Tom, I wasn’t able to, but the experience was wonderful. The added benefit of the Mount Holyoke summit trip was the presence of doors.
Doors are the subject of this post. Each week, Norm Frampton sends a call out to door lovers around the world. He invites us to bring our doors to his site so that we can share them. If you have doors to share, or simply want to see additional doors, please visit his site.
Mount Holyoke is not the highest peak in the Holyoke range. It is the western and southern most peak. At 935′ (285m) it is about 200’ lower than Mount Norwottuck. The mountain range ends at the Connecticut River which separates the Holyoke range from the Mount Tom range.
In the mid-to-late 1800s, it was popular to construct summit houses, lodges and hotels at the summit of peaks throughout New England. Both Mount Holyoke and Mount Tom had summit houses. The one on Mount Tom burned (a common fate). The one on Mount Holyoke survived, that is to say, it escaped being burned. The summit house was acquired and expanded by John French who lived there until his death in 1891. In order to make the summit house more accessible, and to make it possible to deliver supplies, including water, to the house, John French constructed a 600′ 0″(182.88m) incline railroad that ran from a camp near the halfway point up the mountain to the basement of the lodge.
Despite the improvements, mountain-top summit houses became less popular in the early part of the 20th century as travel options expanded. The summit house was eventually acquired in 1915, by wealthy Holyoke silk manufacturer Joseph Skinner. He improved the building, but interest in these facilities continued to wane. The Great Depression only made the problem worse. In 1938, a hurricane caused substantial damage to the building, resulting in the demolition of the most recent addition.
Skinner requested that the State of Massachusetts get involved and support the hotel and the area as a park, but the state was not interested. Skinner donated the hotel and its property to the state in 1939, with the land becoming the Joseph Allen Skinner State Park. The state had little interest in the buildings and facilities. The incline railroad last ran in the 1940s. It was demolished after being damaged in a heavy snowstorm. The railway was removed in 1965. The summit house was about to meet the same fate, but the state decided to restore it instead. It now serves as a museum.
The summit house has been closed this entire season due to the corona virus. Fortunately, the restrooms were open. I was able to walk around the outside of the building and take in the wonderful view. The gallery includes some of those sights, as well as a few historic images and, of course, some doors.