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Eastern Slope Inn
The stately Eastern Slope Inn occupies a pivotal, commanding location near the center of North Conway village, on the site of two former hostelries, the first and second Hotel Randalls, both destroyed by fire. Initially referred to as the third Hotel Randall, it was constructed at the instigation of owner Henry H. (Harry) Randall from plans by H. E. Mason, an obscure Leominster, Massachusetts, architect. The hotel was actually raised in just six months under the direction of local contractor Nelson Thompson. Upon its opening, the ninety-guestroom structure received immediate praise in the regional press, which erroneously characterized it “of Southern Colonial style.” Upon inspection today, it is abundantly clear that the building’s flat Doric pilasters, thick eaves entablature, dormers with open, corniced triangular pediments, and projecting tall front central portico exhibiting a modillioned cornice and closed gable above strongly convey its Colonial Revival stylistic origins, drawing from the rich tradition of New England Adamesque Federal and Greek Revival architecture.
The Eastern Slope Inn is T-shaped in floor plan, three stories in height, and capped by a hipped roof with balustraded observation deck, and is of woodframe construction. It measures 190 feet across its main front elevation, with the ell extending 125 feet to the rear. At the time it was erected, it boasted the latest in fireproofing technology such as fire breaks and ceiling sprinkler systems. The original first-floor interior contained a spacious lobby (now partitioned) with handsome classical columns, a brick fireplace, reservation/information desk, and staircase leading to the upper two bedroom floors; side corridors connecting to shops, writing rooms, a billiard and pool room, music and ballroom, and meeting rooms; and the ell, accommodating a 175-seat dining room and kitchen.
Within ten years of its opening, the hotel became the primary center in the development of the new Alpine ski industry in the White Mountains. In 1937, the Randall family interests sold out to the New York–based Manufacturers Trust Company of which North Conway native Harvey Dow Gibson was president. He spearheaded the origins and growth of his home town as a nationally recognized ski center, adopted and modernized the hotel for year-round use, and renamed it “The Eastern Slope Inn.” Simultaneously, Gibson augmented the hotel’s summer social and recreational programming, underscoring its role as the hub of North Conway’s burgeoning tourism business. A thriving enterprise for the next two decades, the inn passed to a succession of owners starting in 1955, temporarily ceased operations in 1976, but was reopened to the public in 1980 by the owning partnership, Eastern Slope Inn Associates. Since that time, the building has been systematically and sensitively restored to resemble closely its original appearance, continuing to serve as a hotel and merchandising center.
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