A Hanover, New Hampshire area hotel, built by Colonel Jasper Murdock in 1797, the historic Norwich Inn served as a stagecoach tavern and hostelry for generations of New England travelers. Known variously as the Norwich Hotel, Curtis Hotel, The Union House, and the Newton Inn, the little tavern gained quite a reputation over the years, particularly among tourists and coaching parties destined for the White Mountains.
The Norwich Inn was the first tavern in Vermont to entertain a Chief Executive of the United States. On July 22, 1817, President James Monroe visited the hotel, and while here, he addressed the townspeople of Norwich and "partook of a dinner, prepared...in handsome style."
A devastating fire in December 1889 destroyed the hotel, the Union Hall and several neighboring structures. The Innkeeper, Dr. W.S. Bowles, rebuilt in 1890 on the foundation of the original structure. The new hotel, renamed the Newton Inn, was a handsome Victorian structure with a wraparound porch and central turret.
In 1920, Dr. Bowles sold the Inn to Charles and Mary Walker, who again named it the Norwich Inn. Though Prohibition had just begun, townsfolk fondly recount that Mary, known as "Ma" Walker, quietly carried on the Norwich Inn's tradition as a tavern by selling bootleg from the basement. The hotel register from the period, on display in the parlor, has several cartoon drawings of Dartmouth students with frothy mugs held high. Theodor Seuss Geisel, "Dr. Seuss," Dartmouth '25, was a frequent patron of the Inn.
Since the turn of the century, several owners have made their own architectural changes to reflect the tastes and trends of their time. Porches were enclosed, towers were removed, architectural details were "modernized" and additions were built. In 1991, Innkeepers and owners Sally and Tim Wilson began to painstakingly restore the Inn to its earlier splendor as a Victorian landmark in the center of a lovely Vermont Village. Today, the grand building again sports a Victorian color scheme, a lofty turret and elegantly refurbished guestrooms and dining areas.
In one regard, little has changed: throughout its long history, the Inn has maintained a tradition of warm hospitality, fine food and a well stocked cellar.