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Grand Isle Lake House (Island Villa Hotel)
Of the dozen or so multistory, wood-frame lakefront hotels dotting the Lake Champlain shoreline of Grand Isle County by 1905, this hotel is the outstanding survivor. Overlooking Pearl Bay on the east shore of Grand Isle, it was built as a luxury hotel with room for 100 guests billing ten to twenty dollars per person per week including board. It faces the lake, a long rectangle in plan with a mansard third story and a porch that wraps three sides and can accommodate 150 people for outdoor dining. Stained moldings, bead-board wainscoting, and some decorative metal trim the front sitting room with its large fireplace, the large dining hall, and the front desk, as well as the second-and third-floor rooms located along a central corridor with stairs at each end.
The hotel was the brainchild of Frank A. Briggs, who had served as head steward of the Burlington Hotel before moving to Grand Isle in 1901 to build the Island Villa Hotel. The following year he married Mattie G. Adams of Grand Isle and the year after, the hotel opened for the summer season. Despite the highest rates on the lake, it was a great success. The Briggs's son Malcolm Briggs continued the business into the 1930s and eventually sold it to the Sisters of Mercy of Burlington, who opened the state's first Catholic summer camp for girls here in 1957. The Sisters donated the property in 1997 to the Preservation Trust of Vermont, which maintains the historic hotel as an event and retreat center open from May to October.
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