Holyoke, Massachusetts

In its glorious heyday the Eyrie House, perched majestically atop Mount Nonotuck, was a place to be seen and revered. Today, it stands as haunting ruins.

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Tom Riley (GoXplr Account)

About This Location

In its glorious heyday the Eyrie House, perched majestically atop Mount Nonotuck, was a place to be seen and revered. Today, it stands as haunting ruins, silently narrating tales of grandeur and a dramatic fall from grace.

During the mid to late 1800s, the allure of summit houses in New England was irresistible. Seeking respite from the summer heat, travelers flocked to mountaintops to unwind and bask in breathtaking vistas. The awe-inspiring beauty of Mount Nonotuck drew visitors from far and wide, all eager to soak in its panoramic views.

Enterprising Holyoke entrepreneur William Street, recognizing the potential of this scenic marvel, embarked on a venture in 1861. Teaming up with a partner, they undertook the construction of a three-story, 12-room hotel that featured five guestrooms. Named the Eyrie House, it earned its moniker from the likeness to an “eyrie,” a high, remote eagle’s nest. This was the dawn of fierce competition with The Prospect House, located across the Connecticut River on Mount Holyoke.

Street was not one to rest on his laurels. He acquired more land to expand the resort and introduced various entertainments to lure more visitors. The hotel’s grounds boasted a picnic grove, a croquet court, a pavilion for grand festivities, concerts, and even roller skating. A captivating collection of live and taxidermy animals enchanted visitors along the main path, while “promenades,” long elevated wooden walkways, offered enhanced views of the valley below. By 1882, the Eyrie House had grown into a sprawling establishment with 30 guestrooms, dining areas, and separate parlors for men and women.

A decade later, Street embarked on ambitious projects to stay ahead of the competition. He initiated the construction of a larger stone hotel to replace the aging Eyrie House and an inclined railway to facilitate easier access for visitors. However, economic challenges, competition from other attractions like Mount Holyoke’s Prospect House and the Mountain Park amusement park, and the grand Mount Tom summit pavilion, complete with a new inclined railway, hampered Street’s ventures.

For nearly four decades, the Eyrie House enjoyed prosperity, but it all came crashing down on a fateful spring day in 1901. Street discovered that several of his horses had perished. Unable to dig graves in the rocky summit, he resorted to cremation. As he retired for the evening, the fire appeared extinguished. However, fate had other plans. A sudden roar jolted Street awake, as the wind had reignited the flames. In no time, the blaze devoured the pavilion and soon engulfed the entire hotel. The magnificent Eyrie House was reduced to ashes, a heart-wrenching loss.

Tragically, Street was severely underinsured. Of the $10,000 in losses, he managed to collect a mere $2,000, insufficient to rebuild the Eyrie House or realize his dreams of the new hotel and inclined railway. The once-thriving entrepreneur retained ownership of the mountain site but relinquished any dreams of revitalization.

In 1903, the Mount Tom State Reservation was established. The Reservation Commissioners expressed interest in acquiring Street’s land, offering him $5,000 for the property. Street, embittered by the loss of his beloved establishment, initially demanded $25,000, but eventually, the Commissioners exercised eminent domain, depositing the $5,000 into a bank account in Street’s name. Stubborn until his death in 1918, Street never accepted the state’s money, holding onto his pride to the end.

Today, the Eyrie House Ruins stand as a poignant reminder of an era marked by splendor and eventual decline. These shattered remnants on Mount Nonotuck’s summit serve as a testament to ambition, rivalry, and the impermanence of even the grandest aspirations.

Eyrie House Ruins Trail

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  • Trail Length: 1.12 miles (one way)
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 614 feet
  • Route Type: Out-and-back
  • Dog Policy: Dogs are allowed, but should be kept on leash. Remember to bring waste bags.

Location Features

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Holyoke, Massachusetts

GPS Coordinates:
42.280306, -72.620536
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
There are a few different parking areas for Mount Tom State Reservation. To reach the ruins quickest, visitors can park in the lot located just off East Street in Easthampton, Massachusetts. There are about a dozen parking spots here and parking is free.


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