Although Stowe achieved fame in the twentieth century as one of the East Coast's premier winter resorts, in the nineteenth century it was known as a warmer-weather recreational destination. William Henry Harrison Bingham—lawyer, lumberman, and organizer of the Mount Mansfield Hotel Company—convinced the town to build a carriage road to the summit of Vermont's highest peak that would carry visitors to Halfway House and Summit House (1858; demolished 1969). At the base of the mountain in the southwest portion of town, he assembled some three thousand acres, where local businessmen would eventually develop a private trout club. Several dozen such clubs, of varying exclusivity, were formed c. 1900 including Lake Lakota Trout Club in Barnard and Lake Mitchell Trout Club in Sharon.
The Lake Mansfield Trout Club incorporated in 1899 with 200 shareholders and in 1900 built a dam across Miller Brook to form a forty-acre artificial lake on their leased land. An Italianate farmhouse on the site was expanded in two building campaigns (1904, 1911) into a large Adirondack Rustic lodge with accommodations for 100 guests. The massive two-and-a-half-story, wood-shingled structure overlooking Lake Mansfield announces its era with exposed rafter tails on eaves, wraparound porch, massive cobblestone fireplace and chimney, and intact knotty pine and matchboard interiors. In its scenic rusticity the club typifies what would become an enduring image for Stowe's seasonal retreats. A large recent addition has nearly doubled the size of the historic clubhouse.