A Walk Through History | The Balsams Resort

PAST OWNERS
OF THE BALSAMS

TAKE A WALK THROUGH HISTORY

The first guests were welcomed to Dixville 150 years ago. Although much has changed since the days of a 25-room inn, the legacy of this elegant resort and its sprawling wilderness remain constant. The Balsams is being reborn as an all-season, luxury resort for the 21st century – and beyond. We are thrilled to introduce you to the past owners who shaped this legendary resort.

We also welcome you to be a part of The Balsams Rebirth; join us in writing the next chapter in this rich tradition. Call 603.255.2500 or visit our Ownership Inquiries page to learn more and for your invitation to tour the model residences.

THE ROOTS OF DIXVILLE

The legend of the land began in 1805. The area now known as Dixville was granted by the New Hampshire legislature to Colonel Timothy Dix Jr. The grant consisted of more than 29,000 acres. A patriot of the American Revolution, Col Dix lost his life in battle in 1812.

Col Dix’s attorney, Daniel Webster (pictured left), a fellow patriot and business partner, began managing Dixville and its seemingly endless wilderness.

Although he did not take ownership of the hotel, Col Dix’s son – John A. Dix – became a U.S. Senator from New York and later achieved fame as a Major General for Union forces during the Civil War. Shortly after the outbreak of the war, President Buchanan appointed him Secretary of the Treasury.

AN INN FOR WEARY TRAVELERS

George Parsons welcomed Dixville’s first guests in 1866 to enjoy the immense beauty, solace, and wonder of the White Mountains. Parsons named the 25-room inn the Dix House, honoring the town’s founding father and first landowner.

After Parsons’ death in the 1890s, his wife Clara sold the property to Henry S. Hale (pictured right).

Hale was a visionary who modernized this increasingly popular destination. Between 1895 and 1922 he created multiple lakes, an elaborate canal system to provide fresh drinking water, and the famed Panorama golf course, for which Hale contracted legendary golf course architect Donald J. Ross in 1912. Hale also renamed the property The Balsams.

All of the previous owners of The Balsams had unique connections to the storied grounds, rare architecture, and pristine wilderness. Explore interesting historical facts by scrolling through our photo gallery:
This image is an artist’s exaggeration of Webster’s profile on the cliffs of Dixville Notch, NH. Webster sponsored the town's first settlers, the Whittemore family.
Donald James Ross was born in Scotland and immigrated to the United States. He designed and redesigned about 300 courses, laying the foundation for America’s golf industry.
This is Dolly Winter, long time companion of Captain Frank Doudera. She is pictured with one of their Great Danes.
John A Dix was the famous general and son of the first known owner, Timothy Dix.
Whittemore Graves are of the oldest graves in Dixville Notch.
Captain Frank Doudera was an avid sportsman and owner of the Balsams from 1927-1944.

 

ANOTHER CHANGE IN OWNERSHIP

By the time an addition to the hotel – the Hampshire House – was completed in 1918, Henry Hale’s association with The Balsams was nearly over. Unsound pre-World War One investments forced him to sell the property at auction in 1922 to J.J. Lannin, the first Canadian-born owner of the Boston Red Sox and a businessman from New York City (pictured left).

Lannin kept Hale’s son, Warren, on as resident manager, but held the property for only five years. During his short tenure, Lannin added an innovative and greatly touted service: early-morning delivery of New York newspapers, mail, and packages via daily airplane shuttle.

THE OUTDOORSMAN’S PARADISE

Frank Doudera (pictured right) owned the Balsams from 1927 to 1942. He was a seasoned outdoor sportsman who loved hunting, fishing – and, especially, polo. He was also a successful interior designer and former New York City police officer.

In 1929, the region suffered a natural disaster. Heavy spring rains broke the dam at the foot of Lake Gloriette. The floodwaters washed out the main road, and seventy-two buildings in downtown Colebrook, eleven miles away. Fortunately, no lives were lost.

After 1941, the property passed through two owners, both of whom unsuccessfully tried to keep it afloat during World War Two and a period of major decline for destination resorts.

FRESH MOUNTAIN AIR OF INVENTIVENESS

In 1954, Neil Tillotson (pictured left) purchased what was renamed The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel. Tillotson made his fortune thanks to a patent for a manufacturing process that used latex rubber for products such as toy balloons and surgical gloves. He converted an adjacent barn into a small factory on site at The Balsams where these products were manufactured.

To improve The Balsams profitability, Tillotson first extended the resort’s season into the winter in 1965 through a phased period of winterizing the rooms, creating an alpine ski area across the street, and adapting the hiking trails for cross-country skiing. “Mr. T,” as he was known, was the first voter in the nation during every American presidential primary and election from the time he took residence in Dixville until his death in 2001 – at 102 years of age.

TODAY: THE BALSAMS REBORN

The Balsams is being reopened by famed developer Les Otten. Otten shares Lannin’s love for baseball as a past Red Sox owner, and shares Doudera’s passion for exploring the resort’s expansive wilderness. Otten has assembled a trailblazing development team to reimagine The Balsams as a luxury all-season resort for the 21st century that will transport you back to the grandeur of a bygone era.

The Balsams has long been an industry leader, with a passion and dedication to exemplary service and all things refined. 150 years later, our vision is to preserve the natural wonders that originally drew families to The Balsams every summer: resplendent mountains, breathtaking lakes, expansive views, sparkling clean air, and the freshest of drinking water. With more than 50% of the sprawling 11,000 acres of wilderness in permanent conservation, we plan to preserve this legendary property as a tradition for generations to come.

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