The Balsams

Description

The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel is a grand hotel and ski resort in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. It is nestled within the cinematic splendor of the northern White Mountains. The tourism history of The Balsams Grand Resort likely dates back to the 1860s when George Parsons opened the Dix House to guests. Henry S. Hale, a frequent Dix House visitor, bought the property and renamed it The Balsams in 1895. In 1918, Hale finished the Hampshire House, a soaring wing that increased the resort’s capacity to 400 guests. Over the next few decades, the Balsams grew in popularity.

The resort filed for bankruptcy in 1954, and a man named Neil Tillotson reportedly purchased the 15,000-acre Balsams property at a liquidation auction for $185,000. While the Balsams was a well-known summer vacation destination, its winter potential remained largely untapped as alpine skiing became more popular. As the 1960s approached, the hotel’s managers recognized the need for a ski area to compete with the numerous ski resorts popping up throughout Northern New England. Eventually, the development of a ski area near Table Rock began, and the Wilderness ski area opened on December 26, 1966. It had a 3,210-foot-long double chairlift and a 750-foot-long novice T-Bar. The mountain grew in size, and more lifts were installed.

The Balsams closed to the public in December 2011 after being purchased by new owners for $2.3 million, and it remains closed as of January 2021. The new owners seek financing for their redevelopment and expansion efforts. Former American Skiing Company CEO Les Otten joined the Balsams redevelopment effort in 2014. Otten’s current plans include a huge expansion of the previous ski area to around 1,000 acres, which would quadruple its current size and make it one of the largest in the Northeast. Blueprints also call for the renovation of the current hotel buildings, a new hotel wing addition, and renovations to the golf course clubhouse.

According to Otten, the project to redevelop the hotel and resort will cost approximately $170 million. After years of hard work by the property’s owners, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed the “Balsams Bill” into law in May 2019. This law allows the Coös County Commissioners to establish a tax increment financing district around the Balsams. Otten intends to sell $28 million in bonds through the municipal finance structure in order to start the redevelopment. As of January 2021, no buyer for the bonds had been found.

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Historic Specs

  • Opened: 1875
  • Original function: 25-room summer inn established by George Parsons
  • Architect(s): Chase R. Witcher
  • Year added to NRHP: 2002
  • NRHP number: 2000166
  • Status: Private
  • Admission cost: N/A (privately owned)

Location

  • Address: 1000 Cold Spring Rd
  • Town: Colebrook
  • State: New Hampshire
  • GPS: Lat 44.87139 Lng -71.30826
  • Parking notes: The Balsams can be viewed from Route 26. There is a small parking area along Cold Spring Rd (across Lake Gloriette) which offers the best and easiest viewpoint. You can also see The Balsams from the iconic Table Rock hike nearby.
  • Parking directions: HERE
  • Location directions: HERE

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