Part 2 of the History of the Birth and Death of the Homestead Inn in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

Set 2 of My Tribute to Barbara Serafini
Barbara succumbed to cancer on August 27, 2018
Barbara's grandparents on the Elm Farm were among the earliest pioneers of Sugar Hill
Part 1 of the History of the Homestead Inn Torn Down in 2015

A link to her obituary is at 


Part 1 of the Homestead Inn History (featuring the exterior)


Part 2 of the Homestead Inn History (featuring the interior) ---
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Part 2 of the Homestead Inn History (featuring the interior and menus)

Village of Sugar Hill, New Hampshire ---,_New_Hampshire

I especially thank my very good friend and neighbor Barbara Serafini for providing the material for this History of the Homestead Inn. Barbara is the owner of the Sugar Hill Sampler gift shop and museum. She and her three children still own much, but not all, of the historic and extensive Elm Farm land along Highway 117 on the outskirts of Sugar Hill, New Hampshire. Barbara's grandparents Simon and and his wife Marsha Grove Bowles acquired the Elm Farm sometime in the 1800s.

Being strapped for cash on the farm Simon and Marcia Bowles commenced to take in "boarders" into their farmhouse in 1881. In 1889 Simon, who had studied engineering at Dartmouth College, commenced a major expansion of the farm house that henceforth became the Homestead Inn at the corner of what is now Highway 117 and  Sunset Hill Road. Barbara's grandparents both farmed and operated the Homestead Inn until the start of World War II. I think they eventually grew more hay than wheat.

Simon and his wife had a daughter named Essie who married an Italian immigrant called Serry Serafini. They are the parents of my friend Barbara Serafini. About 1940 Barbara's parents took over the operation of the Homestead Inn --- which is why Barbara grew up with the Homestead Inn as her shelter. Eventually she inherited both the Homestead Inn and surrounding Elm Farm land. Later on in life she divided up some of the property, including the Homestead Inn, with her three children but retained much of the land and the big barn now known as the Sugar Hill Sampler gift shop and museum.

At the north end of Sunset Hill Road where it begins at Highway 117 was the smallest of the three hotels called the Homestead Inn.

In the late 1700s this part of a virgin-forest was partly cleared and in 1802 became the Elm Farm ---  so called because of the elm trees that grew beside the farmhouse for many years. This edition of the my online photograph album is about the Homestead Inn that was built in 1889 on The Elm Farm. A smaller farm house commenced to have "boarders" as guests  in 1881 several decades before automobiles climbed up Sunset Hill. Guests of the three hotels on Sunset Hill Road typically arrived by train to the Lisbon Depot or Littleton Depot and were brought up to the hotels in horse-drawn carriages. There was no refrigeration in those days and the three hotels had their own farms for vegetables, chickens, milk cows, horses, etc.


The stone fireplace located on the lawn west of the Homestead's main building is all that remains to remind us of the Homestead Inn


The Homestead did not begin as the 14-room Inn and its annex across the road that were torn down in October 2015.
The Homestead Inn commenced as an 1889 expansion of an 1802 farmhouse of The Elm Farm.

This is an oil painting on the wall of Barbara's current home (The Cabin)
It shows the Elm Farm's original farmhouse and original small barn separated by a granary in the early 1800s
Especially note the elm trees close to the buildings.



What were termed "boarders" were first welcomed into the small farm house in 1881 then owned by Simon and Marcia Bowles.
Many of the "boarders" were workers a half mile up the road at the Sunset Hill House Resort.
In 1889 the much larger Homestead Inn was commenced as a major expansion to the Elm Farm farmhouse.

This is the finished Homestead Inn in 1890


As late as 1965 the Homestead's rates were quite reasonable considering they also covered a hearty breakfast and dinner
The annex was called the "Family Cottage" and had several rooms with full baths




A specialty of the house was the boiled dinner of corn beef and cabbage
I took this picture from an opened book in the museum of the Sugary Hill Sampler
Other pictures below were taken by me inside the museum


Many items of memorabilia hung on walls inside the Homestead Inn
This is a popular tapestry with the New Hampshire motto:  Live Free or Die


Each room had running water but the toilets and bathtubs were in shared bathrooms.
Guests wanting private bathrooms had to rent rooms across the road in the annex.
This is the diagram of the First Sleeping Floor (Level 2)


This is the Second Sleeping Floor (Level 3)









Barbara's mother (Essie) spent hours making aprons


In October 2015 two big excavating machines arrived to take down the two buildings of the Homestead Inn.
The Homestead had been closed for several years and about two years ago it was auctioned off by the Village for back taxes
A big red barn (now called The Sugar Hill Sampler) was a farm barn for Homestead and remains as a very successful gift store and museum.
It's bright red on three sides and weathered-original on the entrance side


As I mentioned above the Sugar Hill Sampler owned and operated by Barbara Serafini
remains a thriving business beside what used to be the Homestead Inn
It's full of good things new and old. The museum has a lot of memorabilia going back
to when the first permanent settlers (Moses and Sarah Aldrich) arrived in Sugar Hill and cleared the site of the historic Elm Farm
Don't forget to go down in the basement that's part of the museum to see antique tools and other memories of a bygone era in Sugar Hill.



In the museum of the Sampler there's a table devoted to books about Bette Davis
Down the road from the Homestead Inn the famous film actress bought and lived in a farm.


The most famous resident of our Sugar Hill-Franconia community for over two decades was film star (with two Academy Awards) Bette Davis (1908-1989). She bought the Butternut Farm near the Peckett's-On-Sugar Hill Resort. Her mother Ruthie moved into the farm house. Soon afterward Bette bought a dairy barn in Vermont and had it carted in pieces across the mountains to her farm. She then reconstructed the barn into a magnificent home called Butternut Lodge. The second picture above shows Bette Davis as a young woman in 1940 when she lived on Butternut Farm. This is when she married her Sugar Hill neighbor Arthur Farnsworth in 1940. In 1943 she was investigated and suspected but never charged with his mysterious death.

After he died, she purportedly placed a bronze memorial plaque on the rock at the bottom of a mountain brook where Farnsworth rescued her in 1939 before they were married. This plaque still exists and is shown in the top photograph above.

Butternut Lodge looks like an old dairy barn. It's now a private residence and is not visible from a public road or walking trail..

 I'm told that recently that Butternut Lodge can now be rented


I wrote about Bette Davis in a previous edition of Tidbits
Also see


I don't know if Bette Davis danced with Arthur Farnsworth in the Pioneer Club operated by the Homestead Inn, but she married him about the same time as the Pioneer Club for men opened up for listening to big band music and dancing with wives and girl friends.

Beginning in 1940 there was a men's Pioneer Club owned and operated by the Homestead Inn that was not a "gentlemen's club" in the same context as today when such a gentlemen's club usually means strippers and pole dancers. On Sunset Hill Road after 1940 the Pioneer Club was a nightclub for gentlemanly drinking and big band music when members could bring their wives and girl friends for dancing. Barbara tells me her father wore a tuxedo to greet club members.


The clipping below describes the The Pioneer Club as it existed in 1965


Barbara Serafini wrote the following:

Bette Dvais did indeed go to the Pioneer....I was too small to see it for myself, but she had a regular table and had a caricature made for my parents which hung over the table. It is signed & now in ,my museum as part of the Bette davis exhibit.

The Pioneer was originally a bottle club, but grew into a very nice private club (necessary to obtain a liquor license in those days).

Yes, my dad wore a Tux...and men had to wear jackets...& early on ladies could not wear slacks! No stags allowed!

If a guy took off his jacket to dance my father went and tapped him on the shoulder...put it back on.

They served dinners....dinner dancing on Saturday. cocktail lounge open for Homestead guests nightly.

We have a nice scrapbook of that too which I'd like you to see.

It was not snobby, but it had a fine reputation that people Still remember and comment about.

Members drove from far and wide to spend evenings there... Lincoln, Plymouth...Danville, Vt...Berlin, NH...I recall

Somewhere there is a letter to members from my Dad saying if people could not enjoy a nice evening without being obnoxious(thats my word) they were not wanted...

There were variations in the evenings for special a pianist, or vocalist and My father walked around being sure people were quiet during that event...

there are pictures of me accompanying a violinist who later became 1st chair of the Denver Symphony

I'll get that scrapbook from Holly so you can see it...


In the 2015 the defunct Pioneer Club was restored at considerable expense by Barbara's daughter and
became a new business called The Pioneer Wedding Barn.
I wish Holly well in her new new venture


End of Part 2 of the History of the Homestead Inn

Part 1 of the Homestead Inn History (featuring the exterior)


More of Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories
History of the White Mountains and Their Notches/Parks/Trails --- See Mountains



Set 01 of my cottage pictures ---
Set 02 inside the cottage ---
Set 03 inside the cottage
Set 04 inside the cottage ---\Inside/Set04/Set04InteriorCottage.htm  
Photographs of Putting a New Rubber Roof Under Our Widow's Walk

Indoor  Plants ---
Amaryllis ---   

The Inn on Sunset Hill (just down from our cottage) ---


Cottage History

Sunset Hill House Resort History Set 01 ---   

Historic Photographs (Set 01) of the Sunset Hill House Resort Shared by Gunsmith Ron Resden from Vermont

Historic Photographs (Set 02) of the Sunset Hill House Resort Shared by Gunsmith Ron Resden from Vermont

Historic Photographs (Set 03) of the Sunset Hill House Resort Shared by Gunsmith Ron Resden from Vermont

After the Sunset Hill House Resort was nearly all demolished in 1973, our cottage (before it was ours)
was moved in 1977 from the golf course across a tennis court and up to where the former hotel site.
I show pictures of the preparation work prior to the moving the cottage and its four fireplaces

Next I show pictures of the move to the new site 

Next I show the pictures of a 1890 spectacular fire on one of the remaining three cottages

Iron Ore ---

Sunset Hill House Hotel:  The American Dream ---

Part 1 of the History of the Homestead Inn Torn Down in 2015

Part 2 of the History of the Homestead Inn 


Bob Jensen's home page