The Winnecoette House
Opened in 1879, the Winnecoette House was the first large hotel in Weirs Beach. However, it was only another year before its major competitors, the Hotel Weirs and the Lakeside House, came onto the scene. Click here for a view from the Lake showing the Winnecoette high up on the hill above the Hotel Weirs.
The following two cabinet card photos, taken by early Weirs photographer F.J. Moulton, shows in detail the sign over the front steps that named the Hotel.
The engraved illustration below is from the 1885, first edition of the Boston & Lowell railroad’s Summer Saunterings. In addition to descriptions of places to go and the train schedules to get there, the guidebook had extensive listings of accommodations along the routes served by the railroad. This illustration of the Winnecoette was inaccurate in several regards. The Winnecoette never featured a cupola; its flagpole was firmly planted on its front lawn, not on its roof; and its front entrance was skewed to the right, and was not in the center of the building.
The illustration may have been drawn by J. Warren Thyng. Thyng was the Principal of the Salem, MA art school, and a frequent visitor to the Weirs. In 1882, he organized a four week summer art school at the Weirs. The illustration appeared in an advertisement in the art school brochure. According to the advertisement, the name Winnecoette meant “Beautiful Pine Place”. The ad continued, “The Winnecoette is delightfully located upon the western slope, near the Weirs. Its situation commands one of the most extensive lake and mountain views in New Hampshire; and for healthfulness, beauty of prospect, and attractiveness, it is unsurpassed.” The hotel was operated that summer by a Mr. Irving W. Doolittle, who may have been the original owner.
Below, an advertising brochure, circa 1920’s vintage, locates the property at “Weirs Heights”. The postcard below the brochure locates the property at “Weirs Highlands”. The webmaster has not seen any other reference to Weirs Heights, but there are other references to Weirs Highlands – a gas station and cottage colony once claimed the name.
The Winnecoette became the Shangri-La in 1952, when it was renamed by George and Mary Spanos, who purchased the property on May 2, 1952. At first, there was little to distinguish it from its previous incarnation. Only the name seemed to have changed. Eventually, however, the hotel was greatly expanded and modernized.
While the view of Winnipesaukee from the Winnecoette was superb, the hotel also had a nice view of Paugus Bay. Below are nearly identical postcards, colored quite differently.
Real photo postcards (the first postmarked in 1917) show more views of Paugus Bay from the Winnecoette.