for my story to be told

Heading into this last leg of my incredible journey, it was extremely difficult to find out much information about the three hotels in Providence that my Grandfather stayed at during his travels in 1929.  I did call the Providence Public Library’s reference desk, but unfortunately for me, they were undergoing renovation, and anything that might be useful, was packed away.  The historical society website also did not offer any information on these three hotels.  My friend and personal librarian, Karen, also tried doing some research to not much avail.  So, the trip was going to be kind of a great unknown.

Pulling out of my garage at 6:15 a.m. this morning, I decided to take one of the “tours” that the Rhode Island Guide book suggested, Route 146 from Worcester to Providence.  Of course, when I entered it into Google Maps, it had me going Route 20, Route 146, Route 146A, Route 5 and Route 7 before entering Providence from the northern end.  And from what I have learned about using GPS on my phone, even though you transfer the map from the laptop to the phone, that doesn’t mean it will be the same route.  And once again, it wasn’t once I pulled off of Route 20.  Entering Millbury, I expected to get onto Route 146 South there.  But, the GPS had other ideas as I drove past the entrance to that highway.  Suddenly, I was on nice country roads, that went first through the little town of Sutton, where a very attractive golf course stood looking over the hills.  Then, into Douglas, where there was a small section that had mills all around.  It was really pretty and before I knew it, the GPS said I was entering Rhode Island and I was now on the Douglas Turnpike.  Again, no sign of any numbered routes, but it was a really peaceful ride with the minimum of traffic.  Finally, I got instructions to head onto Route 7, passing Bryant University, where my sister Jennifer had attended.  I never knew how close that was to Providence, as next up was a sign that I was entering North Providence.

My Grandfather stayed at three hotels in 1929:  the New Hotel Allen, the Mohican Hotel, and the Narragansett Hotel.  I was not going in the chronological order, but rather, what made more sense geographically.

The Mohican Hotel

At 8:26 a.m., after traveling 63.2 miles (on what seemed mostly backroads), I arrived at 344 Washington Street, which was once the home of the Mohican Hotel.

My Grandfather stayed at the Mohican on the following dates:  September 11 and September 16, 1929.

mohican front pic and letters

mohican pic sign2

Tena Dear:- Here I am back again in this old burg, called Providence and I am sorry to be back here now let me tell you.  I would rather be at a town called Saugus than here.

Tina dear, when I arrived in this town this morning, I had four large windows booked for me, which I had to complete and I sure am tired this evening why I can’t even keep my eyes open, so I hope you will forgive for making this one brief, if I don’t fall asleep.  With the greatest love, Joe

The Mohican still stands, although it is no longer a hotel, but rather a home for disabled people.  There appears to be an addition from a 1996 picture that Karen found online.




The cool thing is that there is a large painted sign on the back of the building, that is still there.  It appears that the paint has been freshened up from the 1996 picture and that the doors are bricked over and there is no longer any firescapes.  From the sign about the hotel, rooms were only $1.50 a night and there was dancing and floor shows.  I’m not sure that my Grandfather was a fan of this hotel as he said in a letter dated on 9/17/1929,from the Narragansett Hotel, that “Frank and I have decided to stop at this hotel in preference of the Mohican”.  Perhaps the dancing and floor shows were too much!

mohican 2019 sign

There was a construction crew paving the parking lot across the street from this sign, so some of my video is kind of loud.  I do have to note though, that one of the workers apologized for the noise, which was sweet.

Next, I traveled a block up to Westminster Street to find  White Electric Coffee at 711 Westminster.  I loved the atmosphere – it was what my sons would refer to as “very hipster” and had a great selection of drinks and tasty baked goods.  I decided to mix it up a bit and try a frozen green tea that had a little bit of whole milk and honey.  Outside the shop were several tables and I enjoyed sitting out there and surveying the surroundings.




I headed back to Sage, taking a few more pictures of the front and sides of the building.  At 9:00 a.m, I departed this location to find the next one.




New Hotel Allen

new allen pic

new allen adAfter a very quick three minute, 0.7 mile ride, I arrived at 11 Greene Street to see if there were any signs of the New Hotel Allen.  My Grandfather stayed here two times in 1929, on May 28th and on September 9th.  I don’t think that he was a fan of this hotel either as he wrote on September 9th that “Frank and I are going to check out of this hotel tomorrow, that is Tuesday, so beginning from Tuesday, please address your mail to the Mohican Hotel.”  His two letters did provide some insight into his job:


Tina Dear: – Well here I am in Providence, safe and sound and you are back in the dear old state of Mass.  

The only thing that will make it hard for me is that when I am in Boston, I can not use my car after business hours, for the rule of Larus and Co. is that if any salesman gets into an accident after business hours, he will be dismissed without notice and of course, as I told you, my dad won’t allow me to use his car, but don’t worry about that, I will find some way of reaching you.


Tena Dear: – Here it is just a little after nine P.M. I have just completed my supper after having worked until 8:20 P.M., quite late I’ll say, don’t you think so?

Well Tena dear, you see Frank and I were on a window that took us over four hours to complete, it was twenty-three feet long and about three feet wide, it is undoubtly the largest in length that I have ever struck. I put in a table display as you have seen in Lawrence, only this consisted of about one hundred and fifty tubes and eight panels, with four sets of streamers on the ends.  Tena dear, the proprietor of the store claimed that it was the most beautiful window that he had ever seen and he has been in business for over twenty years. Frank cut the paper and I put the display in if I had to do it alone, it probably would have taken me about six hours.  

It has rained all day in Rhode Island, just a perfect blue Monday, even with Frank around, I feel pretty lonely for that month I spent with you was just perfect bliss.

It was difficult to envision where this hotel once stood as most of the street either had new buildings or parking lots.  Cathedral Square was at one end of Greene Street.




After a very quick five- minute stop, I was onto my next Providence destination.

The Narragansett Hotel

narragansett ad2What was surprising was how close all these hotels were to one another.  The ride to the second stop was that long only because it criss-crossed over the highway, my guess is before that was put in, it would had been fairly direct.  Dealing with one-way streets also added distance.  So, I arrived at 96 Dorrance Street at 9:12 a.m., traveling 0.6 miles.  At this location, wasn’t the Narragansett Hotel, but instead, the Narragansett Hotel Garage.  So, why did the garage still exist and not the hotel?  To me, that is a million dollar question!

narragansett envelope

naragansett pic

The Narragansett Hotel, was referred to on the Narragansett Hotel Garage’s application to the National Register of Historic Places as  “the finest hotel in the city’s history” and that it was built in 1878.  From the above ad, it had 250 rooms and was called the “Largest and Leading” Hotel in Providence. I am not sure how, but somehow, this grand hotel was demolished in 1960 to make room for Johnson and Wales Campus Center.

narragansett old drawing

Before – from the Rhode Island Historical Society


narragansett campus center

After: What Was Built



My Grandfather wrote from the Narragansett four times -on 9/17/2019, 9/19/1929, 12/10/1929 and 12/11/1929.  These letters again revealed some of what happened in his free time.


Tena Dear: – Well I am just like the Wandering Jew for Frank and I have decided to stop at this hotel in preference of the Mohican.  It is situated right in the downtown section and it is more convenient than the other to get about. The whole crew and I went down to the State Theater to see Wm. Haines in Spudway.  Say, I never laughed so much in a picture as I did to-day. Why some of the foolish stunts that he pulls are wicked and to top that off, our gang comedy was darn good. If you probably saw it, the one where they have the boxing match.  Tina dear, even tho’ I have been with the boys this evening, I am terribly lonely. There was an organ solo entitled “The Rosary”. You know how beautiful that song is.  

Frank worked with me this day and we got in eight displays, you see that is just four out of my car and Frank puts in the same ot of his.

Next week, we leave for Springfield and Frank does not want to come home for the weekend, but much I care, for I know that if I had three hundred miles to drive to see you, I would gladly do it.


I suppose you are wondering why I did not write you last night, well I’ll tell you, Mr. Hall, his wife and daughter, Frank, Ed Hoffman and I went down to Cliff Mitchell’s home.  We all had a very pleasant evening, playing bridge, Frank at the piano while Cliff and I were endeavoring to sing later, we had a little lunch and then it was about 11:45 p.m., so we decided to get back to the hotel.

Cliff Mitchell has a beautiful home, a home which is my ideal and I hope that some day I’ll be able to have one like him.  WIth the proper encouragement and also with plenty of ambition, I do not see why I could not have one.  

I expect to go to the office Saturday and then load up for my trip to Springfield, then wash up, get dressed and hurry to you for a few hours of happiness.  I

I have as yet to make out my reports, that is to say yesterday’s and to-day’s.


Well honey dear, I have just completed a tour of the art gallery for the fourth time tonight and honest the drawings and paintings get e more lonely with that everlasting desire to have you with me.  Tena dear, when I look up at the paintings, I only wish that you were here to enjoy them with me.  

I was through today at seven and I feel kind of tired.  This you see dear, I have this darn cold and that takes a lot of pep right out of a person.

I have done some shopping today and I wish you would tell me what you want as for your initial, T or A. 


Tena Dear: – This morning when I awoke the ground was covered with snow and when I got outside, it was terribly cold.  This evening, I believe the temperature must be close to zero for my lsat window was all frozen with the inside of the store well heated.  

Tonight, I feel very blue for all the drug stores that I went into to-day had a radio going and I’ll be darned if they all did not have some dreamy melodies on them, and of course, I have told you the effect that type of music has on your little Joey

What I found interesting is that these two letters were the only two that were written after the Stock Market Crash.  I had often wondered if there was any impact on my Grandfather.  But in the letter dated 12/10/1929, he talks about buying sterling silver for my Grandmother:

“Cliff Mitchell’s brother said that they were worth about twelve dollars a set and the silver in them was compound, so of course, I paid a price for them and he said that he would give a guarantee on the set for a life time and also your children’s for it is pure sterling silver in the latest design by the silversmiths and I hope you like the set for I think it is very cleverly designed for the greatest little girl in the wide world and of course that means you dear. ” 

What was very curious to me was the large amount of older buildings that still exist in this neighborhood.  The Narragansett Parking Garage, was built in 1923 to accommodate guests who were now driving.  It is now the oldest parking garage in Providence and it was admitted to the National Register of Historic Places after some of the garage’s details were brought back to their original looks.




At 9:22 a.m., I once again got back into Sage to journey to our next stop.  While I didn’t find out a lot of information about these hotels, my Grandfather’s letters from these stays did provide a great glimpse into his working and leisure time while on the road. I am definitely going to dig deeper into why this hotel, which was rather significant, was allowed to be demolished.






Leaving Wilmington Vermont at 2:37 p.m., my ride took me through sleepy hamlets and through beautiful valleys, with fields of corn swaying in the slight breeze.  The mountains also continued to frame my ride and the rolling hills allowed me to see beautiful country vistas.  The signs on Massachusetts Route 112 proclaimed that this road was a “scenic byway” and indeed it was.

At 3:26 p.m., after driving 29.4 miles, I pulled into downtown Greenfield to see my last hotel of the day.  I wasn’t sure what to expect after being in beautiful Wilmington.  From my Grandfather’s letter, he surely did not have a good time in Greenfield.  But what would my 2019 experience be like compared to his 1929 experience?  I would soon find out.

I knew from my research that the Mansion House had burnt down in a huge fire in January 1959. This hotel was located on the north side of Main Street in Greenfield, just west of where the public library is currently located.  Prior to its burning down, this spot had always had some sort of inn/tavern/hotel on it, much like Pittsfield and North Adams. Originally, there was a tavern on the spot that was built around 1720.  Then, a brick building was built in 1828. This served as both a stagecoach stop and a hotel. When railroads became more popular, the stage coach stop ceased being used, but the hotel still remained popular.  The building was demolished after the fire. From pictures of the hotel, it was a large brick structure on a corner.  There appeared to be shops on the bottom floor and about three floors above the ground floor.  Initially, I wasn’t sure where the hotel was actually located until I found this wonderful brochure on a walking tour of downtown historic Greenfield (http://www.greenfieldsfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Greenfield-Historic-District-Walking-Tour.pdf)  By looking at IMG_0972this information, it was clear to me that Greenfield seemed to be a city that treasures its history.  While we often flock to cities and towns that are perceived to being important historically, it is equally important to note that every town and city has its own history and stories to tell.  So, judging by this historical information, Greenfield want the stories of its history told.  (and this sign was seen outside the Unitarian Universalist Church on Main Street in Greenfield). Using the information in this brochure about the Mansion House, I set east on Main Street to find the location of where the Mansion House had been located.IMG_0965

It was in the 90s as I walked up the road about a 1/4 from the public parking lot.  There were people out and about, eating ice cream at an outside shop and just strolling along leisurely on this hot afternoon.  Quickly, I was at the Greenfield Savings Bank, which now occupies where the Mansion House once was.  As I sat on the wall outside the bank, I could look across the street to a movie theater, named the Garden.  In my Grandfather’s letter, he wrote “This evening Frank suggested right after dinner that we go to the theater to see Thomas Michigan in the Argyle Case and that there would be a half-hour of organ music before the show. All that organist played was lonely and blue music, which made me feel worse and I somehow hoped that he would stop playing. The picture was very good, so that amused me for awhile, but after the show, I am worse than I have been all day long.”


What was great about Greenfield’s celebrating their history was that there was also a historical plaque on the sides of buildings.  To me, this shows pride in telling their story and for people to realize that each building or each spot does have a story to tell.

greenfield pic


And here’s a little more about the history of the Mansion House:

Before heading back on the road, I wanted to explore a little more of this town as well as, yes, get one more ice tea.  The town had a lot of interesting buildings, architectural wise.  What was also interesting was the town’s commitment to social justice as there were murals on sides of buildings and on other items throughout the town.

With just 20 minutes to spare before it closed, I found Greenfield Coffee.  This little cafe, located at the intersection of Route 2A and Routes 5/10.  As this was my 5th ice tea for the day, I was wondering what I might find at the end of their day.  And I ended up finding the best one of the day – a refreshing Hibiscus-Ginger ice tea.  I sat outside on one of the greenfield teasmall tables and took in the good vibes that Greenfield was giving off.  My eye was drawn to what looked to be a farmer’s market across the street, so after finishing my tea, I set off across the road.

I learned this was called Court Square and not only was there tents set up with many great vegetables, but there were a lot of folding tables set up, complete with pretty vases and flowers.  I was wondering what was going on there, so I went over to a small music events place, where there was a sign in the window to what was happening at this location very shortly.  There was a community dinner, called the Harvest Supper, where everyone would share local fresh farm food, and family entertainment.  The only thing you needed to bring was your own plate!  I loved the diversity of people who were showing up to enjoy community.  Even more impressive was this was the 15th annual event. And then, it really struck me that Greenfield was a place that treasured community, social justice, and history.

From looking at some of my Grandfather’s letters in other years, he traveled to mainly large cities.  I have also been to some larger cities during these sets of journeys, but I have really come to appreciate the small towns, that value community and their histories.



“I am in a place, which I never expected to be on this trip, mainly Wilmington Vermont. One day you hear from me in Pittsfield, the next in North Adams, and now from Vermont.”

After the unexpected finding of the cemetery that my Grandfather had written about in his letter, I got back into Sage and continued on our journey to Wilmington, Vermont.  After Route 8 ended, I turned east onto Route 9, which was an incredibly beautiful ride. There were steep uphills and equally steep downhills, complete with several runaway truck ramps.  Following alongside this road was a gorgeous river and several lakes. As I rounded a big bend in the road, I saw a beautiful bridge that spanned over the river that appeared to be for pedestrians.  Suddenly, the traffic was stopped which provided me a moment to take Wilmington in. The streets were full of beautiful old colorful buildings and people walking on the narrow sidewalks. Excitedly, after a 47 minute, 24.7 mile ride, I pulled into the public parking lot and set out to find what was called the Childs Tavern, when my Grandfather stayed there, but what was now known as the Crafts Inn.  I knew from my research that, first, the building was still standing, and second, it still functioned as a place where people could stay, which was the first hotel that I had seen in this journey that still served as a hotel. So, after the high of finding the cemetery, there was this high of actually stepping into a building where my Grandfather stayed, and where I could stay as well (at some other point).  

IMG_0885Quickly, I walked up the street and there it was – the Craftsman style inn, with three floors, a sweeping front porch and beautiful flowers adorning the front of the building.  To the right of the fire-engine red front door, was one placard that labeled the building a historical landmark, and underneath that was a bronze plaque saying it was on the National Register of Historic Places.  From my research, I found out that Wilmington Vermont has the distinction of having two buildings designed by the famous architectural team of McKim, Mead and White, who also designed the Boston Public Library, Symphony Hall in Boston, Parts of Columbia University, and also did a redesign of the White House’s interior.  These two buildings are what is now known as Craft’s Inn and Memorial Hall. Major F.W. Childs, a Civil War hero and Wilmington’s richest citizen decided that the town needed a place for tourists to stay and also needed a place for both tourists and town citizens to go for entertainment. Memorial Hall was opened in time for the holidays in December 1902, and Child’s Tavern was opened on February 10, 1903.  

As described on the Inn’s website, “The hotel was built more as a resort for visitors who would be staying for an extended period, as opposed to other accommodations in the area, designed largely for travelers passing through. A lot of people would come up from the city. The men would send their families up for a long-term stay, maybe for a month during the summer. It was a very popular place back then.”  This is interesting as my Grandfather was definitely only up there for a very short time, so that seems to go against the original intent of this Inn.

IMG_0895One of the founding families of Wilmington was the Craft family.  They were the owners of the Vermont House, which was across the street from the Child’s Tavern.  This area was becoming more popular with tourists and Major Childs and Floyd Crafts negotiated a deal where the Child’s Tavern was deeded over to the Craft family.  The Craft family expanded it several times, including adding baths so that every two rooms would share one bathroom, complete with hot and cold running water. The lobby was also enlarged during these renovations.

In the 1950s, the Inn’s ownership changed several times and they decided to change the name from Child’s Tavern to Craft’s Tavern.  It in now run as a time -share property, but it also looks like people who don’t own a share could also rent it out.  

The covered front porch was spectacular – there were many wicker chairs, benches and a swing.  An American and Vermont flag waved gently in the breeze. When looking at the building, the open porch was to the right of the front door and to the left was a room, that looked to be a game and reading room. After doing my filming, I entered through the front door to find a woman folding linens at the front desk.  I told her what I was doing and she was excited to hear that the Crafts Inn was the only still functioning hotel that I had found in my 1929 journey. She told me to look around. I am not sure if this was just part of the original lobby as the room was not that big. There were several interesting displays in the lobby.  The first was a several old postcards and a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Craft. The second one was a display of old plates, mugs, keys and other information to do with the Crafts Inn. After thanking the woman, I went back outside to explore. The huge porch wrapped around the other side for a little while and there was an open door, so I looked in to see what was there.  There was wood wainscotting, leading upstairs. To the right of this side was Memorial Hall. It is a smaller sized building that is adorned by beautiful flowers and benches. There are still shows at this location. On the other side of the inn, was a large statue of Molly Stark, the wife of a Revolutionary War hero. This statue was surrounded by a small brick patio, more lovely gardens, and a gazebo that sits near the banks of the Deerfield River.  It is a simply lovely location and I would love to come back and stay at this Inn sometime in the near future.

IMG_0907After a tasty Black Bean Burger and Ice Tea at the Village Roost, I did venture down to that beautiful footbridge.  Gorgeous containers of flowers adorned the green railings. On the other side of the bridge, were more walking paths that paralleled the river.  I walked back up past the Crafts Inn to find another beautiful adorned bridge. All of the buildings in this “downtown” area seemed to be older and were in great shape.  There were many restaurants, shops as well as the town building, churches, and a library all within walking distance of the Inn.


I spent a little over an hour in this magical little town before heading back to Sage.  I wondered how my Grandfather ended up here as it was clear from his letter that he thought he was originally going right from North Adams to Greenfield, but somehow ended up in Wilmington, at an inn, that supposedly didn’t cater to business travelers.  I am sure that many of the buildings that I saw today were in fact there when he stayed there. From my research, I learned that this area was originally a big lumber area before transitioning to a more tourist area. I am wondering if that transition had started to occur when he was there.  I look forward to coming back up here and stay in the same exact building that my Grandfather did sometime in the near future.

“Tomorrow I’ll write to you from Greenfield”.  I wonder if he was sad to leave behind this exquisite Vermont town?



Tina dear, again I am going to try to describe the wonderful scenery that confronted me on my way to Vermont. 

October 1929: Upon leaving North Adams, you drive towards the Green Mountains and say dear, you can not possibly imagine the sight that confronts one’s eyes – why it is beyond words. To start with, this morning it was quite snappy and also cloudy, it seemed that it were going to snow.

August 2019: On this humid but bright blue sky August day, I got back into my car, put my Grandfather and Grandmother back in the bag on the front seat and headed north on Route 8 towards Vermont. I quickly found myself on a curving road, where old brick mill buildings sat guard on the windy road, framed by full green trees and a bright blue sky.

October 1929: George Scronberg and I are together, for today so that makes it much more pleasant now to get back to the scenery.

August 2019:  I am alone in Sage, my Mini Cooper Countryman.  While it would be nice to share this scenery with someone else, I am also quite content by myself.

IMG_0882October 1929:  I had the leading car with George right behind me, as we left the town limits, a large mountain climb confronted us, while climbing this mountain, you look to either side and see a valley with the most gorgeous coloring imaginable and as one climbs to the top, you see another mountain, with the peak covered with snow and it seems directly below the peak, the coloring of the different trees are trying to appear more beautiful than the other.  It is just too beautiful of a sight to pass by! Farther along you strike a valley and all along side of the road are these overhanging trees with another set of colors and on your right there flows a stony brook, swift in some spots and slow in others, then again you begin to climb a mountain, approaching the top, you again look at either side and see colors with the sun coming out of the clouds for an instant and lighting up a certain spot which for an instant reminds you of a rainbow.  

August 2019:  My trip was a bit different as it occurred in August, where all the colors were still pretty uniform, and from afar, I spy a large peak not covered with snow, but with wind turbines.  There indeed is a stony brook, but this brook is not flowing swiftly, but rather, it seems to take its time, meandering along slowly, with reflections of the white puffy clouds interspersed with irregular shaped brown stones on this hot summer early afternoon.  The brilliant blue sky is simply gorgeous as I keep climbing to the top on this glorious late summer day.

IMG_0878October 1929: Further along it is a climb again, but this time when you reach the top, you see a beautiful sleepy hollow, and right in the center, it appears, there are small white slabs, with a clump of young evergreen trees surrounding it and as you get into the valley you notice that the mountains are surrounding it, with the same array of magnificent coloring, well I stopped near this cemetery for about ten minutes and thought what a quiet and dreamy, but lonely spot, if not for the brilliant colors, if would appear totally barren and would give you the shudders.  The name that I gave this place was “Sleepy Hollow” and it sure was a long sleep for those that had been buried there. All of the slabs were of the same height and that sort of was striking.


August 2019:  From reading my Grandfather’s letter from Wilmington, Vermont, I knew he spoke about finding a small cemetery.  With that in mind, I was wondering if I would find this cemetery. Could it be completely overgrown? Would it be obvious from the road?  It’s hard to both drive and look for a pretty obscure location at the same time. I knew that I would be on Route 8 for not that much longer and I hadn’t seen any cemetery yet.  And then, perched on a hill on the right side of Route 8/100 North, there it was. I quickly stopped the car, backed up into a little side road, grabbed my Grandparents, my phone, and the letter and sprinted up the steep hill to the cemetery.  I was beyond thrilled to be able to go to the same place that he found, and that I was able to find it through his wonderful description. While the mountains are still surrounding this burying ground, there were some changes. In addition to the white slabs that my Grandfather described, there were larger granite stones, and stones that had small flags, signifying that person was a veteran.  The mountains still surrounded the cemetery, but on top of those mountains were the wind turbines that I had seen from a distance. I too, spent about ten minutes there and thought about my Grandfather. This set of letters for this Western Massachusetts/Vermont trips contained vivid information about the scenery that I had not seen in other letters. It was sitting on top of that 830 foot hill in a light summer breeze, that I realized for my Grandfather, who lived in Cambridge, that this scenery was probably really foreign, and along with fall foliage, it must had been so stunningly beautiful that he needed to pen what he saw to my Grandmother.  

October 1929: All along it is just scenery that is a tonic for sore eyes and a burden for a lonely heart, that fills you with longing for the thing you hold, the greatest living thing on earth and that is namely you Tina dear.


August 2019:  As I headed back down the hill to the car, I felt that this experience was incredibly moving.  To sit in the same location and admire the same scenery as the Grandfather I never knew, filled me with a sense of connection with this man who loved my Grandmother so very much.  

Post note:  I really had no idea where this cemetery was actually located.  From the GPS on my photos, it said Searsfield, but I wasn’t able to find any information on cemeteries there.  I get sleuthing on Google and came up with a list of cemeteries. Finally, I found the name: Fairington Cemetery in Readsboro, Vermont.   And the name of the dirt road that I pulled off on:  Sleepy Hollow Road.  


As described in the Massachusetts book from the American Guide Series books (1937), “To the visitor arriving from points east, whether by automobile on the famous Mohawk Trail or by train through the equally famous Hoosac Tunnel, this little mill city bursts suddenly into view in a setting of striking mountainous beauty.  On the west is Mt. Greylock, 3503 feet high, and on the east is Hoosac Mountain” (p.459)

I didn’t come from the east (in fact, I was coming from the south, driving north on part of Tour 21, From Vermont Line (Stamford) to Connecticut Line (Winsted), 68.6 m, State 8.  The roads are described as Macdam road, frequently hilly and therefore slippery in winter.  The altitude also can reach 2000 feet.  This was a quick trip, taking 38 minutes to travel the 21.1 miles; passing through Lanesborough, Cheshire, and Adams before landing in North Adams.  But I had the same jaw-dropping feeling as described earlier when I entered town and saw these absolutely gorgeous mountains framing this little town.

The now-Holiday Inn, old Hotel Richmond was immediately on the intersection of Route 8 and Main Street.  There was metered parking (free on Sunday) right outside the the Richmond Grille.  There was a lovely porch outside the restaurant where I quickly decided it was the place to film and set up my Grandparents’ pictures. IMG_0849


When I began researching this hotel, I wasn’t finding much online except for an oral history site, done by Williams College students.  One of the participants mentioned the hotel but not a lot about its history at all.  I was surmising that the Richmond Grille was named after the Hotel Richmond.  I found the North Adams Museum of History and Science on Facebook and reached out to them.  Similar to the responses that I received when I reached out to the groups in Houlton, Presque Isle and Fort Kent, I had a pretty immediate response from this group.  This is what they said about the history of this hotel:

“ I don’t have the exact dates the hotel was built at the moment.  It was really built in stages, opening in the mid-1800’s as the Richmond House.  By 1895 a large addition was added. Sometime between 1895 and 1906, the old Richmond House was torn down and a larger brick structure was built.  I can’t remember if the Richmond was closed in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. At that point it became the Phoenix Hotel. Then in the early 1970’s the entire south side of Main Street was torn down, including that hotel.  Since then The Sheraton Inn built a hotel on that spot, The name has changed several times along with new owners. Now it’s the Holiday Inn. I’ve sent along photos of the Richmond House, the expanded Richmond Hotel, and finally the Richmond Hotel that most people remember.”

North Adams gave me the same feeling as I had in Houlton Maine.  There was something special about this spot, the people that I had spoken to had pride in their town and a willingness to share their knowledge.  I went into the lobby of the hotel and on one of the walls there was more information about the hotel, which was really interesting.  It also appears that the Museum of History and Science will be moving into the building shortly.

After leaving the lobby, I walked up Main Street.  Despite the humidity, it was a gorgeous day to be out walking.  There was a mixture of both older and new buildings on the Main Street.  I ended up at the Empire Cafe, which was next to a really large antique/collectible store.  I was hoping to find some type of relic of the Hotel Richmond but did not find anything.  The Empire Cafe was next to the shop and I decided to mix it up and get a Green Tea soft serve ice cream, which was really tasty.

My Grandfather’s letter revealed a bit about his ride up as well as his relationship with his colleagues and his boss.

Thursday evening

Tena Dear: – 

This evening I thought that I probably would feel better by going to a theater.  I saw a wonderful show named “The Gold Diggers of Broadway”. You remember seeing Broadway Babies, well I believe this show has it all over that one.  Beautiful settings, wonderful cast, and anything that you could think of to make it a perfect show. During the show, one of the scenes is of an artist and of course, you came into my mind, I wished that you were with me for it would make it much more pleasant.

Today, I went over the Mohawk Trail, as you probably know, it has been closed all year long, due to repairs and last Saturday, they opened it up, well now it is a cement road, cutting through the Berkshire Hills and today it sort of had one of these dreamy appearances, the clouds were low and as they approached the hills, they seemed to hesitate for awhile and then float on until the next row can along and they would repeat the previous act.  It sure made me think that nature turns to accord with human life.  

Today, I was so low in spirits and these clouds were, and as they floated along in a lazy manner, then hesitate along the hills, well that is the way I worked, I did things because they were essential, and then stopped to concentrate and think of you.

Dear, this weekend, it is impossible for me to get back and I guess that, is final as far as seeing you is concerned because I am about one hundred and eighty-five miles from you.  That is to say that not because it is to long of a drive, but for the simple fact that we got orders to stay in Greenfield over the weekend.  

I must tell you that Mr. Hall has found out that we were in Boston over this weekend and I believe that he is quite peeved about it and wants an explanation.  Of course we will tell him the truth about it, that Frank got a scare from a doctor in Springfield and hurried to his own doctor and that we thought we would try to keep it away from him if matters came to worse.  You can simply not put anything over on him. There is nothing to worry about that for it will be alright after we tell him our story.

The boys are in my room playing poker and I’m in Frank’s room writing you of course.  They seem to like my room, because it is quite large and they piled in with cards and are sill at it. You know that I do not play poker for I have a better way of spending my time than that.  As soon as I am through here I am going in to my room and tell them to scat, which I hope they will do. If they don’t, well I’ll just get in bed and fall off to sleep and let them put my lights out, but I do not think that I will do it on second thought, for they might get some foolish stunt in their heads and play a trick on me.  My address until next Tuesday morning will be Mansion House, Greenfield, Mass.  

Just Blue,


At 12:48 p.m,  Sage and I continued our journey northward towards Vermont. I would love to come back and further explore the striking mountainous beauty and what else this little mill town offers the 2019 visitor.

IMG_1032After being disappointed with my Springfield stop, I was looking forward to my next stop in Pittsfield to see where the Hotel Wendell had once been.  I was able to find ample information about this once grand hotel and I was excited to see the former location as well as explore Pittsfield.  I knew from my Grandfather’s letter that the scenery would be glorious, and I also knew from my research that Pittsfield is 1038 feet above sea level, so I was hoping that fog had burnt off!

“Oh Tina dear, how I wish you were with me this morning as I started for Pittsfield over the Berkshire Trail.  The scenery is beyond description, I believe that it is paradise and this morning it made me feel so darn blue, because you were so far away from me and not being able to enjoy it with me.”

“You see as you drive along a hill covered with the most beautiful arrangement of colors by nature and as you climb this hill and reach the top, you are overlooking a valley surrounded by hills and the colors are first too beautiful to describe.”


While the leaves during my drive were still mainly green, the scenery is really stunning.  I am finding out that it is hard to be both the driver, taking notes in my head about what I am seeing, and wanting to write down some notes in my actual notebook.  Once I got off Route 20, my GPS had me taking some beautiful roads where there were steep climbs, stunning vistas of both mountains and valleys.  I was relieved to be leaving the urban feeling of Springfield and literally heading for the hills.  Passing through little towns, such as Blandford, Chester, Washington Becket, and Dalton, made me realize how many towns there are in our state that I had never heard of before starting these journeys.  At 10:34 a.m., after traveling 52.8 miles from Springfield, I found a public parking lot in Pittsfield and jumped out of Sage to start exploring this town, called Power Source and Playground by the guide book

Pittsfield has a lot of old buildings up and down two intersecting “main streets”.  I was curious if the Beacon Cinema was an older movie theater, as my Grandfather talked a lot about going to see a movie in many of the locations where he stayed.  It was a quiet Sunday morning in Pittsfield, but there were people heading to church as well as people sitting both inside and outside the The Marketplace Cafe.  I kept continuing down South Street towards the intersection of West Street, where the hotel was once located.

Through my research, I had found out the following information about the Hotel Wendell. What is interesting about this location is that there has been some sort of hotel on it since the 1820s. The Renaissance-revival styled hotel opened up in 1898.  At this time, Pittsfield was a thriving urban setting, as well as a place where New York City residents would come to vacation. At this time, the hotel had 110 guest rooms and a 250-seat dining room.  The hotel put on two large additions, that were just about finished when my Grandfather stayed there, which made the hotel the largest in Pittsfield as it now had 323 rooms.  

However, the Great Depression, World War II and then the building of the Mass Turnpike, started the decline of the Hotel Wendell as people were no longer visiting Pittsfield as much.  The hotel was closed in 1965 and demolished. Currently, there is a 14 story Crowne Plaza hotel, set back a little from where the original hotel was located and a three story commercial building in front of that.

On both the letterhead and on the envelope is the name of the President/Managing Director – N.A. Campbell.  His full name was Napoleon Campbell and he was responsible for doing the additions as well as making the era when he managed, 1924 – 1944, the most successful ones for the hotel.  He sold it to Sheraton in 1944, and it became the chain’s 18th hotel.  

old locationSo, with this history in mind, I kept heading north towards the intersection of where this grand hotel once sat.  And across a pretty big thoroughfare, there it was – now a pretty nondescript, three-story office type building.   There were benches outside with pretty flower pots.  Across the street, was a small park, surrounded by more brick buildings.  There was no historical marker on the building that told once sat here.  Behind the building, you could see the quite tall Holiday Inn and Suites of the Berkshires.  Even though the Grand Ole Wendell was no longer there, this block still remained a hotel where people could stay when they visited the area.  What was interesting about Pittsfield is that while the population is actually 5000 people less than it was in 1930, it did not give the appearance of being like a Fitchburg.  I liked sitting on that bench and observing the Pittsfield of 2019.


After observing for a bit, I went into the Marketplace Cafe.  While you could either get a breakfast or lunch there, I elected for, yes, an iced tea and an oat and strawberry bar and sat outside at tables outside the cafe.  My ice tea was served in a glass, with a paper straw – both nice touches.   I wrote up some notes about my ride from Springfield to Pittsfield and at 11:27 a.m., set off to Route 8 for the trip to North Adams.  I enjoyed my time in this little city, envisioning what it once was like as a playground for the rich New Yorkers.

Excerpts from letters in Pittsfield reveal more about the life of traveling salesman as well as more information about my Grandfather’s job

Monday evening

Tina Dear:-

Arrived safely last night at quarter of eleven.  The going was pretty had as it rained quite hard and the “knoeps” were just crawling.  We could not pass them as there were cars coming the other way.

All the boys are stopping over at this hotel, this was the last minute arrangement, and it won’t be so bad after all.  Frank, Bill Madden, Joe Barrie and I went down to see “The Street Girl” and it sure was a fine show! Have you seen it?

A crew of salesmen are down the hall and they sure are raising merry hell for the bellhop tells me that they have two cases of gin!  They are now singing at the top of their lungs. There must be at least ten of them, so you can imagine the racket they are making, but let them be happy, we only live once.

I am quite tired this evening as I have driven seventy-six miles besides doing a days work. I still have my reports to make out beside writing a few lines home.  



Tuesday evening, 12 M

Tena Dear: –

This evening, I thought I would drop down to see Mary, as she has written me and asked me down.  But when I started I thought I got on the Albany Road, but drove for miles and pretty soon I began to recognise the hated New York City, well, you could have knocked me over with a feather as I was just the opposite direction from where I wanted to be, well let me tell you, I started back for Pittsfield and got here at quarter to twelve, I covered one hundred and thirty-six miles.  Now I will have to postpone the trip to Mary as we are checking out of this hotel Thursday morning and are going to No. Adams for the rest of the week.

Lots of love,


Wensday evening

Tina Dear:-

Today has been an awful day.  You know, one that is quite cold, very dark, with showers every ten minutes, goodness, but it is dreary.  

All the boys are out this evening on dates, I believe they told me, and I am here alone.  

Today, anything irritated me, even Frank got me angry without meaning to.  Why this morning, we went down in my car to the Railway Station, in order to get some supplies that were sent from the office and when we got there, there was to much material for my car to take down and as Frank’s car was in for repairs, it seemed that I would have to try to take care of it somehow.

Frank opened up a case containing dummies and began tossing them to me, some he threw wild and that burned me up. I finally got all the material on but there was hardly room for a hair pin to spring in anywhere.

Frank worked with me today and it was after lunch before we even got started as we were ready to start, Ed Hoffman came along and gave me six windows that had to be done today.  I got peeved and asked him how we were going to complete them, when we only had one car.  

Anyway we finally had the six displays in and Frank began thinking of that girl in Greenwooed, the one who gave him a rotten deal, and he got blue as the devil, so we were a great pair.

Tomorrow, I will write to you from No. Adams and I hope that you are feeling well and are thinking of me the same as I of you.

Just blue,



letterhead and envelopeAs you can see on the letterhead, the only initial clue I had about this hotel was that it was located opposite the “New Union Station” in Springfield.  The New Union Station, was opened up in 1926 and still is open as a train station.  I thought that would be easier enough to track it down as it seemed to have a prime location for travelers.  However, after googling information, reaching out to a Springfield Historical Group to have the email bounce back, going through the Lost New England blog and reaching out to another group on Facebook (and hearing nothing), I was heading to Springfield with this one and only clue.

I followed Tour 4 – From Boston to the New York State Line, 144.3 miles on US 20.  In the Massachusetts Guide Book, the description of Route 20 is as follows: “the road is hard-surfaced throughout, but narrow and in poor condition in some of the rural sections, open at all seasons.” Sage and I pulled out of the garage at 6:11 a.m. on a muggy Sunday morning. I picked up Route 20 in Northborough, which is mile 31.7 miles of section A of this tour, which goes to the intersection with State 9.  After intersecting with State 9, this is section B of Tour 4.  From this junction to Springfield is 57.3 miles. This route goes on the outside of Worcester, through Charlton, Sturbridge, Brimfield, Palmer, North Wilbraham, before heading into Springfield.  US 20 will go into downtown Springfield.  The road through Worcester, Milbury and Charlton was rough in spots.  It was a two-lane each direction road until I hit Brimfield, where it narrowed down into one land each direction.  There were foggy sections on my Sunday ride, on the higher elevation areas, and I hoped it would burn off for when I entered the higher parts of the journey later on.  In Brimfield, I could see evidence of where the tornado hit several years back.  Palmer had a cute little downtown area, and around 8:00 a.m., my GPS instructed me to leave Route 20 to head for the Union Station area.  I passed through a lot of industrial areas during this ride and soon, the station was right in front of me.  Across from it sat parking lots and more industrial buildings, but not one sign of an old hotel.

I parked the car in an empty lot at and went to the front of the station.  The mileage was 75.5 and I parked at 8:27 a.m.  The area felt a little dicey to me, so I went really quickly to take a quick peek around, do my pictures, and take a video.


This was probably the shortest of trips as I got back into Sage at 8:36 a.m. and headed a quick 0.3 miles to the Mocha Emporium at 1623 Main Street.  This was a really cute little shop on a pretty deserted Main Street.  I ordered a Black Currant Ice Tea, which was refreshing and sat and did some trip notes, before leaving Springfield at 8:56 a.m. for my next destination.  To date, this was probably my most disappointing stop since I knew nothing about the hotel and its history.  But, I was at least able to at least pinpoint somewhat where it was located.  I was hoping this would be the down point for the rest of the day’s journey.

While my Grandfather was in Springfield, he received an interesting business proposition that you can read about below.  This letter also provided a glimpse into some of what he did during a day.

Tuesday evening

Tina Dear: – I have just got back from the Clinton Hotel, where the boys are staying.  We have been singing and talking, kidding Leo Gatreau alive and what not. Leo thinks he is quite a musician, so we kid him along and I believe he thinks that we are serious about it when we tell him that he is good, but actually is terrible.  This morning, I got my car out of the Ford shop and it is running along like a lilly, so I have no kick coming my way. I have worked Holyoke today and was through with my work quite early, so I went along with Bill Madden and helped him with his sales.  I sold six cartons of ciggarettes, four dozen luxury and three and a half dozens Edgeworth. About four p.m. we met a fellow that represents the American Tissue Mills and he invited me down to the mills to see the crepe manufactured. It is quite interesting the way they make it, he also showed the way they stretch paper by machine.

He asked me whether I had trimmed the Edgeworth windows in town and I said that I was the one, well what do you know, he offered me a job with his concern and all I had to do was travel all over the country  advertising their crepe, by putting in displays. The salary was to be thirty five for a start with a good drawing account, of course you know what that meant, being away from you for a period of six months or so and of course that is out of the question, so far as I am concerned for being away from you for that length of tie, why I would not even give it a second thought, of course if I had never met you, it would be different.

To top things off, I could get you a position with them also, drawing designs for their advertising crepe and tissues, but I thought that if you were in Springfield and I am in Boston, how would that feel, so I thought that it would not be the best thing for the both of us, being separated for that length of time.  You would probably be in Springfield for a few months before you got back for a weekend and then I sure would be lonesome.

You must thing that I am selfish, but Tina dear, would you want to stay away for that length of time.  I know that I would not for any amount of money.  

There is no kidding about your position, or mine either.  I could hop right to work for them tomorrow, but nothing doing.  I am content to stay with Larus, for in the long run, I’ll probably be ahead that much more.  I am always thinking of you dear, With love, Joe