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The Missisquoi Hotel
Of the 11 hotels and boarding houses in Sheldon during the mineral water boom, The Missisquoi Hotel presented itself as the most elegant, refined, and luxurious of all.

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” The Missisquoi Spring held top fame due primarily to wide spread and passionate advertising by its owner Mr. Smith.


According to the St. Albans Daily Messenger of Jan 2, 1867 “C. Bainbridge Smith, Esq., proprietor of the Missisquoi Springs, Sheldon, has purchased twenty-five acres of land of L. Adams, in the vincinity of the Springs, and proposes to put up a hotel there the coming summer. ‘

Note: On this map filed with the town of Sheldon the designated red markings are for the location of the Spring House and for the Hotel.

The spring asset proved to be valueable enough for Mr Smith to shore it up with native rock and cover it with this pagoda.

Preceding the hotel, Mr. Smith erected a bottling house a short distance from the spring in a small ravine allowing the water to flow downward with some force where workers bottled and sealed it for shipment.  The apparent location of the bottling house can still be validated by the large number of glass shards and bottle necks found at the location. 

Along with the profits from this activity and his own means of investment Mr. Smith soon undertook the construction of the elegant Missisquoi Springs Hotel.  This business card designed for Mr Sublett , the proprietor, reveals a very large and elegant structure whereas the photos of the time document a lesser structure.  Mr. Smith’s design included a front facing the Missisquoi River joining together two wings.  Photos are of the easterly wing and half of the middle.

A news reporter of the day helped to validate other reports on this first and most widely known Sheldon resort. The ST Albans Weekly Messenger Aug 27, 1869

About two miles down the river from Sheldon Village on a broad and smoothly rounded bluff of the right bank,  just above the Missisquoi Spring, stands the elegant Missisquoi hotel.  ... the work of its erection was commenced last October, and on the 15th of June the house was open for guests.  It is 50 x 200 feet, five stories highand has an L for the culinary department which is 36 x 50. The house has a capacity of about 200 guests, and has about 100...The original plan of this house was for a long front and wings and the present house is only the northernly wing. ...When we say the house isfirst  class, our readers will excuse the details.  Its spacious corridors, its high walls, and lofty doors, its broad winding staircases, its oiled pine and black walnut finish, in some places elaborately carved and richly wrought in together, ...,its gas fixtures,...its steam warming apparatus, its moden laundry with machinery for washing and ironing, its nice bathrooms and water closets on every floor......It has had about 400 guests this summer up to this time, and probably this year the season has hardly passed its median.  They pay $4 a day of $12 a week, and all accounts agree that they get their money’s worth, for the house is kept by Mr W H Burroughs of New York, a veteran of the business, and he never suffers its appointments of table d’hote to fall below the proper metropolitan standards.


The fame of Missisquoi Springs Water grew exceedingly as its availability increased worldwide and as doctors, dentists, druggists and famous persons attested to its value.  Numerous pamphlets and publications attested to the validity of the healing powers of the water. 

Publications (Click on link to see PDF)

The Burlington Weekly Sentinel Nov 1 1867
The St Albans Weekly Messenger Aug 12, 1870
The Manchester Journal (Manchester, NH) Apr 6 1871


Advertising at the time of the boom attracted attention to Sheldon with ads appearing in all of the city newspaper including Boston, NYC, Washington DC, Philadelphia and as far aware as St. Louis Missouri. Spring water was shipped worldwide and guests arrived to the tune of 3,000 during the BOOM

For reasons we are not certain of, two Vermont newspapers published stories about Sheldon and the Missisquoi Spring during 1940

The demand for Missisquoi Spring water immediately grew to such tremendous proportions that before the end of the second year Mr. Smith was obliged to build a new and larger bottling house.  The need was so urgent that he began its erection in the dead of winter 1867. In that same year he built the palatial Missisquoi Springs hotel.  This was followed by 11 large hotels maintained in Sheldon.  All these hotels were crowded to their utmost capacity for fully five years. There were fully three thousand visitors in Sheldon during each of the five seasons when the Missisquoi water was in such great demand.”
The Burlington Free Press May 17, 1940

“Since 1870, owing to the litigation which dragged through many weary years, Missisquoi Water has never been used or put on market in any noteworthy quantity.  The last conspicuous use of this famous spring was made by President Grant during his last years at Mt. McGregor.  It was commonly known that Missisquoi water was the kind of water which General Grant drank during the closing weeks of his life. For some time, a 12-gallon carboy was sent each week to Sheldon Junction, the nearest  point of shipment, to be filled with Missisquoi water for the dying president.”
The Brattleboro Reformer June 17, 1940

The Fire - Beginning of the End

August 1870, a brief 5 years after construction The Missisquoi Hotel lay in ashes after a delibertly set fire. All but one of the 11 hotels met an end mostly to fires with only the former Portland still standing in 2020 but The Missisquoi Hotel proved to be the most famous of them all. Kate Smith, unrelated to the owner set fire to the kitchen upon leaving after she was fired from her position as a cook. The all wooden structure provided more than sufficient timber for the entire building to go up in flames. Thankfully the guests number around 120 were able to save their personal belongs and helped in the removal of the furniture and other items. Although the spring remained, the hotel would never be rebuilt.

Missisquo House Burned

This large and elegant house caught fire about noon Saturday and is now in ruins.  The fire broke out in the kitchen.  The furniture was mostly saved.  There were about 120 boarders stopping here, who succeeded in saving their effects.  The burning of the Missisquoi House, Sheldon Springs, proves to be an act of incendiarism, and the ex-pastry cook, Kate Smith, has been arrested and held .....

Vermont Christain Messenger Montpelier VT August 4 1870

After the Fire - Attempts to reopen
Salvaged and Auction after the Fire

Spring Water Used at the Welden in St. Albans after the fire.
St Albans Messenger Aug 16, 1870

President Grant had water deliver to him after the fire,
The Brattleboro Reformer

The Carlisle's Purchase of The Spring
Bratt;ebprp Reformer &
Swanton Courier August 2, 1917
Rutland News

Furniture saved in fire at Missisquoi Hotel sold at auction
St Albans Daily Messenger Oct 10, 1870

Maynard Hogan in November 1900 undertook the writing of “Sheldon and Its Famous Missisquoi Spring Water, a history. Written at a time when Sheldon was ebbing from the BOOM it clearly shows the significance of the Missisquoi Hotel on the history of Sheldon. Thre are 8 total pages displayed for you here

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