In the early 1840’s Henry L. Thayer was a successful Littleton, New Hampshire merchant with a dream to build a hotel more modern in equipment and character that others of its kind. Despite warnings of failure, the dream started taking shape in 1843 when he purchased the lot just east of his store. Although the exact year construction began is unknown, sources indicate January 14, 1850 as opening day for “THAYER’S WHITE MOUNTAIN HOTEL.” Success was soon established due in part to the coming of the railroads to Littleton in 1852.
“Dad” Thayer, as he came to be known, built his success on the quality of service he offered “drummers” (salesmen) and other travelers to the area. Lackeys would deliver firewood for the fireplace or Franklin stove in order to heat the room, a candle to provide light, a pitcher of water for washing as well as the guest’s own personal “thunder-jug”. Bed sheets were turned down just before the guest retired for the evening and heated stones were placed between the covers to warm the bed. These were all regular services of the hotel. If further service was desired a buzzer could be used to summon a boy by ringing once, twice for a maid, and three times for water.
With its Greek revival architecture and commanding position on Main Street Littleton, the hotel maintains a long history of hosting Presidents, leading politicians, celebrities and other notable dignitaries.
A brief listing includes visiting Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. Also stopping by were presidential aspirants General George B. McClellan, Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Governor Estes Ketauver, Governor George Romney, Senator Barry Goldwater, Senator Harold Stassen, Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, author and political commentator Patrick Buchanan, and Senator Bill Bradley. New Hampshire Governors Sherman Adams and Hugh Gallen frequented Thayers Inn, as well.
Stagecoaches were owned and operated by “Dad” Thayer to transport guests between the hotel and the train depot as well as on tours of Franconia and Crawford Notches. On the tours travelers could choose between a first, second or third class fair. All classes occupied the same seats until the stage came to a steep hill, whereupon first class passengers remained in their seats, second class passengers were asked to get out and walk, while third class passengers were required to get out and push.
Henry L. “Dad” Thayer and his son Frank operated the hotel into the late 1800’s. Originally named “THAYER’S WHITE MOUNTAIN HOTEL,” regular guests called it simply “THAYERS.” Through the years the hotel retained that label, dropping the apostrophe and the “WHITE MOUNTAIN” and finally in 1984 changing “Hotel” to “Inn.”
Littleton native Robert C. Hill who served as the United States ambassador to five different countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Spain and Argentina). Other guests include P.T. Barnum accompanied by “General” Tom Thumb, Publisher Horace Greely, Henry Ford, the notorious millionaire playboy Harry K. Thaw, arctic explorer Commander Robert E. Peary, WWII General Tomoyuki Yamashita – “The Tiger of Manila” (who lived at Thayers for the three months in 1940 while on a spy mission in the White Mountains on behalf of Japanese Intelligence), movie star Bette Davis, song writer Ed Bruce (Mama. Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys) and author Michael Blake (Dances with Wolves). Come stay at Thayers Inn and make more history!