The Dowager’s Diary – Week One Hundred and Seventy-Seven

July 19-26, 1918

The jolly month of July, 1918 was just that for Kate Shippen Roosevelt. She was doing some sightseeing and hotel hopping. Her morning excursion entailed visiting the Mohawk Trail. She wrote in her diary, “Tremendous climb, perfectly magnificent views.” I must admit I was a bit surprised to think of the sedate socialite used to being chauffeured around town in her own private touring car while in New York City and traveling the rural roads around her farm, Merdlemouth in Hightstown, New Jersey in the carriage drawn by her horse named Dobbin.

Mohawk Trail’s Hairpin Turn

But apparently, she enjoyed the adventure. The Mohawk Trail is on the route from the Berkshires, where Kate had a less-than enjoyable evening the night before at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge to Boston. It is an historic American Indian footpath, officially opened on October, 14, 1914, just four years before Kate Roosevelt’s visit.

The famous Hairpin Turn that overlooks the soaring cliffs was where the trail begins and who knows, due to its scary elevation, it might have been where Kate’s hike ended. She never said, but she must have worked up an appetite.

Weldon Hotel Sun Room

“Lunched at Weldon Hotel in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Excellent!” So far, she was having an exemplary time. Built in 1905 as an apartment house, it is one of the first poured concrete structures in the United States. Its name Weldon is a merging of the words, “Well Done,” spoken by the owner, F.O. Wells, when construction was complete. It was converted into a hotel in 1907 and in 1914 a section was added as a dining room. It was a spot for tourists and famous for its Sunday luncheons. An old advertisement concurred, “A delightful Sunday dinner awaits you and your friends after a pleasant drive. The famous Sunday special, $2.00 for a full course dinner served from 12 noon to 3:00 p.m. Tarry awhile in our beautiful colonial living room and the spacious palm gardens.” It was signed by J. Tennyson Sellers, manager.

Hotel Touraine Dining Room

After lunch Kate and her entourage resumed their trip down to Boston and spent the night at the Tog Town Tavern in Winchester. She wrote, “Simple, but very good and not expensive.” When she arrived in Boston she wrote, “Lunched at Touraine in Boston. Good, but very expensive.” The hotel she referred to was located on the corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets near the Boston Common.

Hotel Touraine Library, 1910

The brick and limestone, 11 story building, from the outside looked like it might have been a pricey place. It was built in 1897 to look like a baronial estate and patterned after the 16th Century chateau owned by the Dukes of Touraine in France. It was a residential hotel that offered tenants and visitors several dining rooms to choose from and a circulating library. In 1966 it became an apartment building.

Sharon Hazard’s Dowager’s Diary appears on Thursday.

On WAT-CAST, listen to Sharon talk about the series.

Photo One:
Weldon Hotel, Greenfield, Mass.
Library of Congress

Photo Two:
Mohawk Trail’s Hairpin Turn
Library of Congress

Photo Three:
Weldon Hotel Sun Room
postcard, public domain

Photo Four:
Hotel Touraine Dining Room
Postcard, public domain

Photo Five:
Hotel Touraine Library, 1910
public domain