Dating back to 1797…
Life then and now at our historic Vermont Inn
A Bit of History
A historic Vermont Inn and hotel built by Colonel Jasper Murdock in 1797, the 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 Vermont hotel, renamed the Newton Inn, was a handsome Victorian structure with a wraparound porch and central turret.
In 1920, Dr. Bowles sold this historic Vermont 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 architectural changes to our historic Vermont Inn 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.
The Inn was purchased in 2006 by Joe and Jill Lavin, who have continued in the tradition of ongoing improvement of the Inn as it evolves through the 21st Century. Major enhancements include adding the Walker House and Ivy Lodge buildings, the creation of the Wine Cellar, and significant renovations to all public areas.
In one regard, little has changed: throughout its long history, this Norwich hotel & historical Vermont Inn has maintained a tradition of warm hospitality, fine food and a well stocked cellar.