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THE BELLEVUE - A H Keith

During 1865 to 1870 Sheldon Vermont became famous as a resort with some 11 hotels built shortly after 1865 to accommodate the masses of people seeking healing from the famous “Waters of Sheldon”.  Both the Congress and the Missisquoi boasted springs with healing properties, luxury beyond local standards, and bath houses.  Not to be completely outdone and seeing an opportunity to make a profit from the influx of tourists A. H. Keith undertook the construction of the Bellevue House.  Using local tradesmen, included a nearby neighbor Robert Crowe, and using land he owned at the intersection of the current Crowe Hill Road and the East Sheldon Road, Mr. Keith began construction.in 1867.  The House renovations in 1869 also resulted in a name change to The Bellevue Hotel.

   

This 1871 map of the village clearly shows the Keith property holdings along with the Bellevue in the intersection of the two roads mentioned.  Mr. Crowe’s home is also noted a short distance up the hill. 

 

 

Click on Any Image to Enlarge

 
 

From the St Albans Messenger August 27, 1869 P3

 

 “The Bellevue House is situated near the Vermont, but a trifle higher. It is being built by Col A. H. Keith and will be open early next spring.  The main part is 36 by 84, and the L, which runs back from the center, is 30 by 60.  The main is four stories, including the basement and a French roof, and all the rooms command a lovely view.  In the basement there will be a barber shop, billiards room, laundry, and gent’s closets.  The kitchen is to be entirely in the rear of the house, and connected with only a covered passage.  This house and the Missisquoi are the only hotels in Sheldon that make pretentions to architectural beauty, and may well claim it.  The architect of this was Mr. L. J. Swett of St. Albans, and throughout the entire building is credible to his taste and good judgement.  When finished, this will be in all respects a first class house and with the “Col” as “mine host” it cannot fail to draw. “

 
   

In this view of Sheldon from Crowe Hill you can see the Bellevue to the right side of the photo. 

Click go enlarge

 
   

This elegant hotel represents the efforts of the local Keith enterprise based on profits from the original forge built in 1799 by the Keith brothers to smelt iron ore with over 100 men employed. 

 
 
   

Advertising to tourists ran through out the northeast pointing toward this beautiful accommodation.

 
   

St Albans Daily Messenger July 17 1871


“Mr. D B Flint of Boston, Samuel Munn of N. Y. Judge Chapman and wife of Massachusetts, General Ledwith and family of Florida, Daniel March DD of Philadelphia, and the family of Gen. Carter of Annapolis are at the Bellevue House in Sheldon.  There are now about 40 guests at this house.” 

Burlington Democrat  Aug 17, 1872


“The Bellevue House at Sheldon has sixty guests.”

 
   

Mr. Keith,

a bit of a celebrity himself,

endeavored to entertain guest as this notation of

a “Hop” indicates

Please Click To Enlarge

 
   

Guests typically would spend time at the Hotel or at the other Springs in the area before evening entertainment. 

The attire of the day shows in the early stereoscope.

 
   

The St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad, with a spur in Sheldon, desired to locate a luxury hotel on Lake Champlain near the Maquam dock.  The first negotiation took place between the railroad and the Portland House.  Seizing an opportunity for a profit or perhaps just the beneficiary of change of mind by the railroad, Mr. Keith enabled the sale of his Bellevue Hotel to be moved to Lake Champlain.

 
   

Swanton Courier Oct 12, 1878


“The plan to move the Portland House, Sheldon, to the dock has been abandoned, parties have leased the house where it stands, we are informed, for a term of years.  It is now said the Bellevue House of Sheldon is to be moved down, and contract for the work having been closed.” 

Swanton Courier Nov. 9, 1878


Sheldon – “The Bellevue Hotel is fast coming down. “

 
   

With the move finally completed and the hotel rebuilt it open for business in Swanton.

History of Franklin and Grand Isle Counties P 417 (date)
“There is a summer hotel on the lake shore, near Maquam dock and the terminus of the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad, owned by the railroad company, erected a few years ago by the Maquam Land Company. It was first built at Sheldon, Vt., taken down and brought here by railroad and put up, and finished and furnished in first-class manner, intended for summer travel and city boarders, and is open in the summer season only. It is quite an imposing building and nicely located. It is about two miles west from Swanton village, and is now under a lease to C. F. Smith, who opens it in summer for city patronage mainly.”

 

Those of you who have followed the resort history of Sheldon undoubtedly recognize the name of C.F Smith who followed the resort trend to the lake.