Leffingwell Hotel

Courtesy of the Historical Society of Cheshire County

The Leffingwell Hotel in Dublin was a popular resort for the rich and famous around the turn of the 20th century.

Dublin’s famous Leffingwell Hotel was recognized as one of New Hampshire’s outstanding summer resort hotels in its day. For more than 30 years the hotel prospered. It was recognized for the quality of its rooms and the excellence of its dining room offerings. The Leffingwell was a centerpiece for Dublin, overlooking the town center from its vantage point just above the village.

The hotel was owned by Dr. Charles Leffingwell and managed by his son Henry. It was an imposing four-story tall structure, with an additional two-story annex, and could accommodate 150 guests. In the 1890s the cost to stay at the hotel ranged from $14 to $21 per week. The Leffingwell played host to well-known authors, artists, politicians and the very wealthy. A few of the guests during the season of 1907-1908 were W.D. Vanderbilt, Ambassador Charles MacVeagh, Boston Mayor Josiah Quincy and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead.

After serving a generation of tourists, the Leffingwell met a sad end in a disastrous fire that the town has never forgotten. In November of 1908, the hotel was closed for the season and under the care of a lone caretaker. On the evening of Nov. 22 the caretaker went out for supper. While he was away, fire broke out in the Leffingwell’s attic. Townspeople rushed to the scene. Unfortunately Dublin had no formal fire protection at that time, and the hotel was soon fully engulfed in flames.

The residents began to fear for the village and many people began to wet down their own homes. The hotel annex soon caught on fire and the Leffingwell complex burned out of control. Fearful residents plastered the church roof with snow. The Unitarian parsonage, standing a few feet from the annex, burned next.

The new town library was the next structure in the fire’s path. The library, however, was constructed of stone and had a slate roof. This stone building checked the spread of the fire and the village was saved, but the huge hotel crashed to the ground and Dublin’s famous Leffingwell Hotel became only a memory.

Alan F. Rumrill is executive director of the Historical Society of Cheshire County, which has been collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the region since 1927. It’s on Main Street. To learn more about its public programs and collections, visit hsccnh.org.