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Image by: Patrick O’Leary
Image by: Jesse James
About the Eyrie House Ruins
The Eyrie House, a fascinating piece of Holyoke, Massachusetts history, stands as a testament to the region’s past and a popular site for urban explorers and adventurers today. This blog post will delve into the intriguing history of the Eyrie House, exploring its origins, evolution, and eventual abandonment.
The Birth of the Eyrie House
The story of the Eyrie House began on February 20, 1861, when Holyoke entrepreneurs William Street and Hiram Farnum signed a twenty-year lease for ten acres of property owned by Lysander W. Parsons and Meriel & Gilbert Clark of Easthampton. The initial terms were quite favorable, offering two years of free rent followed by an annual rent of fifty dollars. This arrangement lasted until 1875, when William Street bought the property outright.
In March 1861, Street and Farnum initiated the construction of the hotel. The original structure was modest, measuring 22×26 feet and including five guest rooms, a dining room, and a parlor. An office and an observation room atop the building provided stunning panoramic views. Remarkably, water for the hotel was sourced from a natural spring on the mountain’s lower east side, transported via buckets carried by a mule.
Expansion and Glory Days
The 1870s marked the beginning of significant expansions for the Eyrie House. The first addition included five more guest rooms and a veranda equipped with a telescope. To finance these improvements, Street raised the hotel’s weekly rate from six to seven dollars. Subsequent expansions in the late 1870s and early 1880s added twenty more guest rooms, a billiard room, separate parlors for men and women, and several outdoor amenities like promenades, a children’s swing, a Look-Out Tower, and a Pavilion. A steam-powered water pump and a windmill were also installed to enhance the hotel’s utilities.
The 1880s were the golden era of the Eyrie House. It was a time when the hotel attracted several hundred visitors daily. The hotel’s dining room was particularly famous, offering an array of exquisite meals. Besides the luxurious indoor amenities, the grounds included a variety of outdoor attractions like a menagerie of animals, birds, reptiles, a shooting range, and a bike path, making it a complete recreational destination.
Decline and Destruction
The 1890s saw a gradual decline in the popularity of the Eyrie House. Faced with increasing overhead costs and a wooden structure that was difficult to insure, William Street embarked on a new project in 1893: constructing a new hotel and an incline railroad. This new hotel was envisioned as a massive, more durable structure with stone and steel, accessible only via the incline railroad. However, financial difficulties and a lack of patrons, many of whom shifted their preference to Mountain Park, hindered the completion of this project.
The downfall of the Eyrie House was dramatic and sudden. On April 13, 1901, a fire broke out while William Street was attempting to cremate several dead horses near the hotel’s stable. The fire quickly spread, engulfing the entire hotel and leaving behind only the walls of the foundation and the rubble of a toppled chimney. The loss was estimated at $10,000, but the insurance coverage was only $2,000. Eventually, the state took over the land by eminent domain, marking the end of Street’s forty-year reign on Mt. Nonotuck.
Historical Context and Current Status
Initially located in Northampton, Massachusetts, atop Mt. Nonotuck, the northernmost peak of the Mt. Tom Range, the Eyrie House was part of Northampton’s Ward Four district. It was not until 1909 that Holyoke annexed most of Ward Four, which included the Eyrie House site.
Today, the Eyrie House is part of a hiking trail, specifically the beginning of the M M Trail that takes visitors along the Mt. Tom Range south to the Mt. Tom summit. The trail is accessible off Underwood Ave. in Easthampton. The original cart path leading up to the Eyrie House, now buried beneath a present-day parking lot at the end of Nonotuck Road, serves as a reminder of the past.
The Eyrie House, though now in ruins, continues to captivate urban explorers and adventurers who visit the site to connect with a piece of lost history. Its remnants on the trail provide an eerie yet fascinating glimpse into the past, offering a unique experience for hikers and history enthusiasts alike.
If you liked this post, you might like the Port Blakely Mill Company Generator Building in Washington, an abandoned Assisted Living Facility in Florida or the Mines of Mazarrón in Spain. You can also check out other abandoned locations in Massachusetts with our top abandoned places in Massachusetts page.
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