Water-powered press and print shop in jeopardy of demolition

A vintage print shop is in danger of being demolished if no viable alternative is proposed. The building includes a once-upon-a-time living quarters, and a fully equipped print shop that includes some Golding job presses. One of the presses is powered by a unique water system.

Here are some photos of the Mount Washington Print Shop.

This topic was introduced two days before this new upgrade of the Discussion forum. In the two days that the topic was on the old site it logged over 700 views and some very compelling replies. Your input now is needed to convince the owners not to demolish this historic treasure. To express your interest on the subject, we urge you to post your comments below.

Log in to reply   46 replies so far

Hi Elizabeth:

I would like to receive more information regarding the location of the building (city, town, state). Does the building have good bones possibly for retro-fitting?

Vance Studley

Elizabeth, Thanks for posting this information about this important historical shop — it looks just as it did 30 years ago when I visited it (though I think the building’s sag has increased!) I hope it can be preserved on site, with its important association with the old hotel. It needs a proprietor who both wants to preserve it and understands the technology well enough to keep it going. I was astounded that the little Pelton wheel was enough to power the press — but it is geared down a lot.

I look forward to using the new website — congratulations on getting it up and running!

I’m also hopeful that soon I’ll be able to announce a new project.

Best regards, Bob

Welcome Vance and Bob and thanks for getting the ball rolling in this topic on the new site. We are communicating with someone who apparently represents the new owner(s). She says that she has read this thread and has been trying to document and research the significance of this print shop and building. I have also been able to point her to statistics and information on the revival of letterpress printing. Two days ago she told me that she would be meeting that day with the project managers and “Trust Executive” to present her findings.

I have asked if I might post more information here regarding the location of the shop and hope to hear back soon as I believe more details will promote additional interest. However, right now I think it is best not to do anything that might discourage the good will that has been generated on all sides.

Regarding the structure of the building, from what I understand it has been “stabilized for the winter,” so it sounds as if it is in need of some structural work as well as cosmetic renovation but I do not have specific information on this subject. So far this is strictly a dollar and cents conversation with the owner’s reps. The first priority is to convince the investors that the shop will be a financial benefit to the hotel.

One question that was asked is was what kind of funding might be available for this kind of project. If anyone knows of any specific organization that might be interested, please let us know.

Your comments and support are greatly appreciated.

Updated. This abbreviated potential funding list has the advantage of identifying likely donors and the disadvantage of being time-consuming, among many other positive and negative attributes:

National Endowment for the Humanities
Each state has districts which administer and process grant requests

National Endowment for the Arts
Ditto above

Well-known and not so well-known private and public foundations
The Foundation Center

State councils for the arts / humanities
[Let’s say this place is located in New Hampshire, but any state can be used.]
The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts

New Hampshire Humanities Council

Surely there must be some level of affection and interest at a level local to this location (as yet undisclosed). It has been a proven successful method that sympathy and involvement can be turned into money.

There are a ga-zillion ways to raise money, stir interest, educate young generations about investing in their future (this building and its contents)…all these wheels have been invented.

Knowing location and contacts would be the next step. Hopefully, that can be accomplished soon.

I would be most interested in working on this.

—-Peter Christian Pehrson

Hi Elizabeth.

Kudos to you for highlighting this delightful opportunity. OK so its a lot of work and a possible risk. Just think (and I mean anyone remotely interested) what a beautiful lifestyle and nice small business you could have.

There must be enough letterpress tourists to give this place their custom, me included, and I live in England.

Too many places such as this have been lost for posterity because the parties involved are not forward thinking.

We have lost several opportunities like this in the UK.

Please don’t pass this one up.

And finally, good luck to anyone who tries!
Jeremy Winkworth

Updated. Thanks everyone, for your continuing interest. In ten days time there has been over 1500 visitors viewing this topic on the old site and here in the new one, and we have received some significant interest.

I understand now that the presentation that was supposed to take place last week was postponed. My contact says she decided to take time to make a stronger presentation to a larger group of people. She will be using material from this discussion as a starting point in her presentation as “the people and the quantity and quality of their posts left on your website are enough to catch anyone’s eye…The people we will be presenting to are not blind to preservation and great historical landmarks like the presses and their habitat and that is why we are very excited about the presentation and your assistance…I want to meet these people and say YES to all of them!! “

So - take heart! Your contributions to this discussion are being noticed. Please send along any ideas, statistics, websites, and blogs that might be persuasive in the upcoming presentation.

Updated. Elizabeth deserves our heartfelt thanks for the effort and brains she has put behind this chore. Altruistic endeavors can be depleting and this one no less so. I suspect she’s spent dozens of hours (and not a little of her own money) emailing, co-ordinating, organizing, and just plain sweating bullets to see this thing through. Yes, it’s a group effort, but it’s she who’s running point.

As for Elizabeth’s contact, perhaps if we put ourselves more into her shoes, we might come up with some concrete evidence for integrating history into destination locations. I know next to nothing about the hotel business, but I know plenty about how I felt at Eastfield Village, Nassau, NY (http://www.greatamericancraftsmen.org/eastfield/eastfield.htm) and at Cooperstown, NY (http://www.cooperstownchamber.org) which labels itself as the ‘village of museums.’

Cooperstown uses education as the drawing card to get ‘em there and keep ‘em. Have you ever been to Cooperstown? It’s in the middle of nowhere and not so easy to get to, but once you’re there, you have tons of things to do…not the least of which is the Farmers’ Museum which has, incidentally, an historic, working printing shop.

[Added Nov. 28]
Another destination tourist attraction is Bowne & Co, (http://www.southstseaport.org/places/bowne.shtm ) the 19th-century letterpress working print shop at Manhattan’s South Street Seaport Museum, which has about a 20-year run of interpreting printing history, and would be a good template for the water-powered Golding.

My point is: history sells, educates, and remains inside a person after the hotel stay itself dissipates. You can reminisce all you want about the food and the scenery, but if you come away from your stay with history in your head, you’re bound to return to repeat that pleasant experience because it’s enriching, personal, and unique.

Elizabeth: I am responding to your posting about the water-powered press and print shop that you say is “in jeopardy of demolition.” I work for the new owners and am, in fact, the “trust executive” you refer to in your posting on November 22. There has apparently been a serious misunderstanding of our intent regarding this wonderful historical equipment. There was early conversation about relocating the equipment to a more accessible location and possibly taking down the building, and we gave a contracted person the task of researching the history and value of the print shop and equipment before taking any action. Her research led to Briar Press. I’ve read all the postings to date regarding the press and print shop, and while I am thrilled that so many people are interested in helping us preserve the shop, I am also alarmed to read comments that make us sound rather careless and ignorant. Please be assured that we are aware that we’re in possession of something rare and special, and that we will take great care in restoring and preserving it.

Thanks for helping us understand the reasons to renovate the shop and keep the equipment where it is. We’ve secured the building for the winter and will have an assessment done soon. If you all would like to help (and I truly hope you do), I am working on a presentation for owners and investors and need to include estimated cost to repair equipment, ideas for revenue-producing projects, estimated value of the equipment, sources of funding for building renovation, and demographic information about letterpress enthusiasts. We will set up a 501(c)3 foundation here within the next year and I would guess that the foundation will take the print shop on as a project and continuing program, so we’ll be able to accept donations and agency funding.

I look forward to continued communication with you.

Updated. Hello Sally J,

I think I can speak for all the viewers and people who have responded to this thread, and welcome your participation in this discussion. I am very sorry if I misinterpreted your intentions. When I became aware of the fact that your group was considering relocation of the equipment, I jumped to the conclusion that others have expressed: here goes another period print shop, and perhaps the last example of a working shop with a water-powered press.

Unless you or someone in your group has an historical background or knowledge of letterpress printing, it is certainly understandable that you might have thought that relocating the equipment would be adequate to protect it. Please understand our concern. The presses and equipment relocated to another building, are simply presses and equipment. There would not be much difference between your presses and other Golding presses that exist in a variety of locations. Moving this equipment to any other location would diminish its interest and undermine its value to the hotel.

My colleague, author and historian Steve Saxe (see his book American Iron Hand Presses), summarizes the uniqueness of the situation in a post that you have read, but is worth repeating:

“Looking at the photos of the print shop and the office, I was struck by a feeling of time standing still - it’s really a wonderful glimpse of a country printing office of the 1870s or 1880s. The banks of upper and lower cases, hanging lamps with green shades, the Golding Jobber and paper cutter — everything looks like it’s been in that spot for 125 years - and I’ll bet it has. There are a lot of photographs of print shops of that period in ‘Newspapering in the Old West’, but I never thought there was still a shop like that surviving today! It is well worth saving and preserving.”

The approach and preparation that you describe for your presentation does indeed confirm the fact that you do perceive this as a “rare and special” situation. Your participation here will let people know that taking time to reply has been productive, and hopefully will be so in the future.

I am delighted to make your acquaintance in this forum, and look forward to continued good news and combined efforts to preserve this historical print shop and building.

That sound you hear is a collective sigh of relief from everyone involved. Sally J saves the day!
Or at least is poised to help save it. In her I am convinced we have an advocate, and I’m satisfied she will do the best possible.

May we please know the location?

Money-making Ideas

[I can assist in making these ideas concrete.]

Conference organized around the press, its history, its future and, by extension, the greater subject matter of which it is part: interpreting history.

Produce a series of broadsides (easy to print, involve local schools and students, involve local artists)

Fund-raising gala (probably in the Spring) in and around press building introducing the idea, presses, and locale to the press and potential funding sources (such as local arts council).

This path has been well-trodden and many have gone before us. It shouldn’t be daunting to discover what they found worked and what didn’t. We already have contacts within the letterpress community. Also, my guess would be that the hotel has a marketing/PR person. I’d throw this subject their way.

—-Peter Christian Pehrson

Thanks for your great ideas - you all are amazing! I have to confess that I’m a little blown away by the interest - I knew nothing about letterpress and am getting quite an education.
Here’s what I’m doing right now:
Fast-tracking the establishment of a non-profit foundation so we can receive state and federal humanities and historic preservation grants.
Contacting funding organizations to determine their interest in the project.
Continuing to work on a “pitch” to owners, which will include the bare bones of a plan to restore the building and equipment and establish a working print shop. FYI, I spoke yesterday with the principal executive here and shared your discussions and he’s on board. He’s definitely committed to doing the right thing.

Peter - I like the idea of a fund-raising gala (hadn’t thought of that one), and I agree that it shouldn’t be difficult to get funding once we get our non-profit up and running. I’ll certainly work with marketing staff as soon as we get the go-ahead from owners. Sweet of you to give me credit for saving the day, but you know better. Credit goes first to our researcher (thank you Emily!), then to all of you, and certainly to the property owners who understand the value of legacies and history. I’m a facilitator and organizer and now, a student of letterpress.

Elizabeth, thanks for your comments. Your support means a lot.

This is all very exciting. I hope Sally J. will let us know if there is anything any of us can do to help out if and when plans are made…. even if it means driving half way across the country to attend a gala. ;)

I have gotten into this discussion a bit late, & Peter
Christian Pehrson has waxed gibbously on the matter
to great effect. I would suggest that, because this is
affiliated with the hotel, you might also consider this
an opportunity to involve guests, particularly those who
are celebrating important events. A small keepsake
done under supervision would be fun for all & might be
included in the “reservation package” for the event.

All of this is rather far down the road at present, & the
major task is to inventory the contents (a regional letter-
press printer would be helpful here), assess the con-
dition of equipment & tools, determine what if anything
would be needed to augment the holdings to eventual
successful use.

The other major task is more easily understood, i.e.
the safe electrical wiring, restoration of plumbing, dry-
rot issues, roofing, etc. Some of these things will have
to be done “professionally” & some of them can be done
with volunteers. Before using volunteers I would consider
insurance & site safety issues, & also their knowledge
of what they would be volunteering to do.

In looking at the pictures one can easily imagine how
charming this little shop could be once restored. I re-
call viewing a similar, complete shop in the remote
Owens Valley area of Eastern California. It is part of the
old Southern Pacific narrow gauge railway complex, all
buildings intact & original. The area was so remote no
changes were ever economically required. The shop is
fascinating to just look at, but, alas, it is behind glass
& unattended, although still fully viewable.

The great advantage of the shop here in question is that
it will be associated with a viable concern which will also
bring in people to not only see it, but to also perhaps
use it! Sally J is to be commended for her sincere efforts
to learn how to best preserve & use this precious little
discovery. Some of the posters to this topic are in the
area of the shop, & I hope they might arrange a visit to
help Sally assess the holdings.

Norman McKnight
Philoxenia Press
Berkeley CA

Somewhere in my “files” I have an article from one of the major printing magazines of about 25 years ago which dhows and tells about the water powered press at the Mt. Washington Hotel. I’ll try and find it and post it for others to read.

In the meantime, the late Peyton Reavis from Tucson visited the place several times and in his La Prensa Antigua dated January 20, 1984 wrote the following:
“In September-October we were in Bretton Woods, N.H. for anothervisit with a daughter and familyu at Mt. Washington Hotel. Went on the old cog railway up Mt. Washington in beautiful weather…Was at the old hand-set printing shop at the hotel before the young printer drove in for the day’s printing when the convention office sent a rush message about registration cards. They had no been run, so I found the standing form, located the type in one of a half-dozen cabinets, changed the heading and in a few minutes the century-old Golding was going. Power was from an equally ancient water turbine. I hadn’t run the press before, but had seen it in years past and knew the power hook-up via belts from an overhead shaft. For more speed, just turn on more water.”

In another issue, undated, Peyton says: “Most of my type, the cases and type stand have been rescued from salvage in Los Angeles. I did get four cases of good old type from the Mt. Washington Hotel shop in New Hampshire” So who knows what else has been appropriated from the shop over the years.

Peyton has been gone for many years. He was a retired educator.

Updated. I now have located the article mentioned earlier and have scanned it into a word file. I can’t seem to get Pagemaker to handle it for a pdf. Anyway, it is readable as a word or may be printed out and read. It is from the February 1979 Graphic Arts Monthly. ( see http://users.bestweb.net/~bpress/misc/mwp.jpg )

George - Great story about Peyton. Thanks also for the article which I added to your post. It should be framed and put on the wall of the print shop.

Norman - Your practical suggestions are appreciated. I love the idea of involving guests in printing a keepsake. It might be a very unique draw for the hotel.

Peter - Your creative and resourceful comments are much appreciated. I think this is the kind of information Sally J. will need for her presentation.

Sally J. - Here are a few more facts that might be of interest:
Graphic Arts Monthly - 11/06 “High-end letterpress stationery regains cache. Classy clothier Cartier adds foil stamped embossed stationery to its boutique offerings. Seattle-based offset pressman Jack LeNoir runs a letterpress shop in his spare time, using computer software to help generate the design of some of the illustration ink blocks run on flat-bed presses.”

Graphic Arts Monthly 5/05 - Letterpress Returns:
“Letterpress is making a comeback in the printed stationery market. At last week’s National Stationery Show in New York, 55 vendors were listed in the letterpress greeting card category, a designation that didn’t exist three years ago…” - http://www.gammag.com/NewsBriefs/newsb.php?id=05_25_2005_723 .

Letterpress paper is becoming more available - “Presenting Lettra, a brand-new paper developed especially for the oldest printing process, letterpress. When Crane & Co. was founded, back in 1801, all of our papers were printed letterpress. So, in a sense, the debut of Lettra brings us full circle.” - http://paper.com/crane.html

Not only is Cranes offering a line of paper suitable for letterpress printing, they are offering their own line of letterpress-printed note cards and stationery. http://www.crane.com/navSearchResults.aspx?Search=letterpress

Hope this is of use to all and especially to the decision-makers.

I think that this is really a shame!!!!!!


The press operation at the Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods is a rarity of considerable interest not only because of its location, but also because of the unique building and method of water-powered operation. It is a classic survivor that shouldn’t be here except that until not too many years ago it still served a useful economic purpose in support of the hotel. Remote locations, seasonal use, and lack of funding to modernize often means that things of truly significant importance make it unnoticed through the general upheavals of ownership changes, real estate development, lean economic times, changing values, etc.

The historic nature of a property is often that which the general public seeks out. They have seen enough strip malls, Wal-Marts, and the like that make the entire country one nameless and faceless sameness and only those things that have something both authentic and unique to stand out from the common add to the value of a visit to a property that has the stature of the Mt. Washington Hotel in its unique location both in scenic and recreation values, but also in its place in history.

As an example of a supporting facility for a major hotel and resort complex, the print shop is a fascinating glimpse at how this entire facility functioned without the readily available resources now available. While probably every other aspect of the property has been updated and modernized to meet today’s operational needs, the print shop remained in the background in its original state, relatively untouched for so many years. The structure needs maintanance and care, and the print shop needs the touch of a letterpress printer to bring it back to life, but my opinion is that it deserves to be saved, not only for what it is and represents, but that it can add value to the hotel’s operation as part of a visitor’s experience.

My background is over 50 years in printing and letterpress with a degree in Printing Management from Carnegie Mellon University and as owner of a nationally recognized printing supply business, NA Graphics. And as importantly, I have a parallel career in historic preservation of significant structures that has included one National Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. As a personal reference, I would refer you to Dick Moe, president of the National Trust. My historic preservation firm of Klinke & Lew has been awarded more contracts for historic preservation in the state of Colorado through the Colorado Historical Society than any other like company in the state. We have a vital concern that our clients, the structures, and secondarily their owners, receive the best work and care that is possible to insure the structure’s survival for many years to come. That is why I see the print shop at the Mt. Washington Hotel to be both unique and eminentally saveable.

Fritz Klinke
NA Graphics/Klinke & Lew Contractors
P.O. Box 467, Silverton, Colorado 81433
[email protected]

I fully agree with Fritz Klinke’s comments, and with my experience both over 40 years in letterpress and 35 years in the historical museum field, I have examined the situation from those perspectives.

The very historic Mount Washington Hotel and its associated Print Shop in its separate building on the hotel grounds were built at about the same time in 1902. The Print Shop is an integral part of the story of the historical Mount Washington Hotel, and if at all possible the Print Shop building and associated equipment should be preserved in situ as an historic site in order to present it in its historical context as part of the hotel complex, a museum interpreting the use of printing to support the operation of an historic resort hotel.

It appears from the photos that the building is somewhat compromised structurally, though the sag has, I believe, been present for many years (I have not been able to locate my photos from a visit about 35 years ago for comparison). It should be possible to stabilize the structure, shore up the foundation, and reinforce it so that it can continue to serve as a print shop in its present location.

The water power mechanism, a small Pelton wheel and overhead shaft and belts, was undoubtedly initially installed because of the lack of electricity at that time for powering the press with other than human treadle power. Because it is still functional and is an important part of the uniqueness of the shop it should be used for the routine operation of the press whenever sufficient water flow is available.

The Print Shop was used for many years for the production of printed matter for use by the hotel, such as restaurant menus, guest literature, forms, point-of-sale materials, stationery, etc. This traditional printing function should be continued using the traditional, and still operational, equipment. The design of the printed materials should be tailored to the capabilities of the equipment and the letterpress process. The pricing of this service to the hotel should be included in the calculation of the operating budget for the print shop.

In addition, special printing services could be made available to the hotel’s guests. This could include custom stationery for use during their stay, special greeting cards, custom menus for special celebration banquets, etc. The pricing of this guest service should be set at a level that provides a portion of the operating budget of the print shop.

Special publications could be undertaken that would present the distinguished history of the hotel and the print shop, including some of the prominent events that occurred there. The sale of these works would also provide a portion of the operating budget of the shop.

Based on the recent interior photos I have seen, I believe minimal additions, such as type and possibly some bindery equipment, to the present contents of the shop would enable production of the sort of work outlined above.

Because the print shop is, and I believe should remain, on the hotel grounds in its present location, ownership of the building and its contents should be retained by the owners of the Mount Washington Hotel. Staffing of the print shop could be either by contract or by hiring a person who would be considered a hotel staff member. This person should be both a skilled letterpress operator and a good designer, with experience developing and executing the materials suggested. Knowledge of the mechanical system used to drive the press and the mechanical ability to properly maintain and operate it will also be important.

Robert Oldham, Ad Lib Press, Doswell, Virginia

Dear Elizabeth Nevin,

On December 26, I had a visit from Fritz Klinke and told him that I admired his letter and was in accord with his position on the water-powered press preservation. He told me more about this unusual and fascinating printing operation. I hope those concerned will be successful in keeping it going. You can count me among those in support of the effort.


Andrew Hoyem
Arion Press
1802 Hays Street, The Presidio
San Francisco, California 94129
[email protected]

Hello Everyone -

I have good news about the Print Shop at the Mt. Washington Hotel and I think you will all be able to breathe a (long-awaited) sigh of relief. All the owners of the Mt. Washington Hotel/Bretton Woods Resort project were at the site this week and we were able to present to them a White Paper about the Print Shop and make our case for restoring it in its current location. I have heard from two of the three principals, and they are completely and enthusiastically in agreement with our plan to renovate the building and resume print shop operations. The third owner has not had a chance to review the document, but I feel certain that he will agree with his colleagues.

We will need time to set up a foundation, secure funding and plan programs, and there are many huge projects going on at the resort right now, so please be patient with us! It may be slow, but it will happen.

Thank you once more for your support and expertise. I will keep you posted as things develop.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions or ideas.
Sally Johnson

Sally Johnson, if you and the group you’re working with would like direct input from me regarding the planning for restoration and use of the print shop, please contact me directly. I would be glad to send a resume detailing my printing and historical museum experience, and could help develop a working plan for making this wonderful historic site not only an attractive working museum of letterpress printing at a great resort hotel, but a regional tourist attraction that would enhance the draw of the hotel.

Bob Oldham
Ad Lib Press
[email protected]

Congratulations are due to everyone who engaged in this, particularly our fearless leader, Elizabeth Nevin (copious rounds of applause!) whose hours of concern and ready eloquence rallied us in the first place, with sincere and deep thanks to Sally J. and to Emily for their persuasiveness.

It restores my faith in human nature, frankly.


Updated. Sally Johnson,
Thank you for your hard work with the Mt. Washington print shop. I am familiar with the shop from a number of years ago when I worked in the letterpress department at the Stinhour Press in Lunenberg VT. My friend/co-worker Tom Arseault worked for the hotel in the print shop. I would sometimes go with him on the weekend and help print the menus. The shop is truly a national treasure. I now own and operate a letterpress shop in Portland Maine. If I can be of any assistance in the restoration of this shop please contact me. I have 27 years experience in letterpress printing and teaching and I live only 2.5 hours away. I am over your way several times a year both winter and summer. I’d like to meet with you to see if I could help.

Thank you,

David Wolfe, Wolfe Editions

Hello, All:

It’s almost spring (trust me). What is the status of our project at Mount Washington Hotel?

What do plans look like for breaking out of hibernation all that equipment…how did things fare over the winter…have any of the offers of help amounted to real action? Any word from Sally J?

Inquiring minds want to know…


On July 14 I made an aborted attempt to visit the print shop and see if anything has happened, good or bad. Unfortunately, the “gate keeper” was not sympathetic to my attempt, although he thought he knew what building I was seeking and advised there was no way to get there.
The hotel was booked for the next two days and although I was allowed to drive to the valet parking lot, turn around and exit, any stopping/parking was not available. They are doing extensive restoration work on the face of the main building and clearly were not interested in visitors.
We drove up the road to the Cog Railway and I noticed a road running back toward the hotel which was a vendor/help access road I think. It was late in the day so I did not attempt to sneak in that way.
So—this report is no report, although it was nice to be in my home state of New Hampshire, seeking the print shop not being the primary reason I was there.

Dunno, but I’d think if you were restoring a place wouldn’t you KEEP the presses that were there?

ebay auction.

I doubt if that proof press is from the hotel — the hotel is at the base of the mountain, not at the summit. There is a visitor center at the top and the Mount Washington Observatory, a weather monitoring station — the press may have been used there.

is/was there a hotel or restaurant at the summit?

Reading through it again though it sounds like someone working at the weather station may have checked around in the printshop at the abandon hotel and taken it.


This has gotten a long way off topic. The hotel is hardly abandoned and the geography of the area works against your theory, although I suppose it is possible.

Oh I am by NO means an authority. Just making assumptions and guesses at best. But if one doesn’t voice them one never gets answers.

Is there any update as to the restoration of the printshop?

It would be nice to know if anything has happened. As I posted a few months ago, my attempts to visit the shop in July were thwarted.

I wanted to introduce myself to the group and provide an update on the print shop and water powered print press at the Mount Washington Resort. I was hired in April with the development company at the resort. I will be working, amongst other things, on the non-profit foundation that will be established next year. I have been in contact with Sally, who has posted updates here, and who led the effort to do research on the history of the print shop and the water powered press.

Nothing has happened to the print shop or the water powered press. Everything still remains in the same location, untouched. Our team was doing extensive restoration work on the hotel this summer as it suffered millions of dollars of damage during a Nor’Easter storm this past April. We were also working on a new alignment of the entry drive. As a result, we limited traffic entering the resort area for safety concerns and unless you were an overnight guest of the resort, you were asked to return via a shuttle from the ski area across the street. It was a way of controlling traffic during this important construction period.

We are working on plans to develop the resort area. Our team is well aware of the history of the print shop and the water powered press and as the coordinator for the foundation, I have read through the folders of information prepared by Sally and others on the significance of the print shop and grants available to restore and protect the building and machinery. It is not our intention to destroy or get rid of this important piece of the Mount Washington Resort hisotry. As we move forward with the development of our foundation and begin to outline projects, such as the restoration of the print shop, I will give updates to this discussion group.

Thank you for your time - have a great holiday season.

Stacey - Thanks for your thorough update and sorry to hear about the damage to the hotel. Hopefully after repairs are made to the hotel, more attention can be given to the print shop. This project has been on my mind for awhile. Certainly, the holiday season will be brighter with your news. It is very exciting to hear that a non-profit foundation is being considered to protect this shop. I am being cautiously optimistic that it will become a reality.

All too often, projects such as this come to light, and then quietly disappear. It looks as if this project may be on the way to a more a positive outcome. When the foundation is established and you have a 501(C)3 number, please let us know. Many members have already expressed interest in making a contribution to this cause. Look forward to your updates.

Just read an article from the New Hampshire Business Review about the Mt. Washington Resort. They are planning a $1.1b project over the next 11 years. Aside from the renovations that are currently underway at the Mount Washington Hotel, the president of the project states the following: “We look to develop unique assets with historical value and authenticity…..Plans call for a White Mountains history museum, a new country club, an art school, an artists’ colony, meeting centers, an expanded ski touring center, tennis courts, a retail district and a 36-hole golf course capable of hosting a national event.”

It certainly sounds as if the future of the Mt. Washington Print Shop would be a natural part of this plan. Hopefully we will hear more from Stacey about the non-profit foundation she mentioned in her above post.

My first job as a printer was to run the print shop at the Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1952. It was the top job offered to a graduate of the Printing Department of Boston Trade School at that time.
I spent the summer at the hotel, printed breakfast menus, dinner menus and all sorts of other small printing jobs. It was a 7 day a week job, my meals were included as well as laundry. I ate in the “side hall” and was treated like a king. For all this I received the whopping salary of $50.00 a week, which at that time was good money.
It was my first job, now I am 75 and have been retired for over 10 years. My memories of the water powered printing press and all the hand type are fresh in my memory.
My wife Lillian and I were guests of the hotel back in 2003, around the time of the hotel’s 100th Anniversary. We spent a weekend as guests of the hotel and I talked with the “powers that be” at that time about making a historical museum out of the hotel.
Everything in the print shop was exactly as it was in 1952 when I worked there. I spent many of my free hours fishing for trout in the Amonoosack River which was behind the hotel.
Ralph W. Staples, Printer

I am excited to hear that once again the new owners of the Mt. Washington Hotel are considering the possibility of making the original print shop into a museum. I have been a letterpress printer for 57 years. Just sold a complete letterpress shop with Ludlow hot metal equipment. I also donated a “foot operated press” to the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts. They have promised me that someday it will be on display.
I believe that the Mt. Washington Hotel is the only print shop in the country with a “water operated” press and I also know that it would make a very interesting museum. When I went back to the hotel in 2003 with my wife, we met with directors of the hotel and at that time talked about turning the print shop into a museum. I feel that the original building should be kept, even though it needs much repair.
Here are some photos I took on the visit in 2003: http://picasaweb.google.com/bpress/Bp2?authkey=0CGLp1UMQ6c

I would gladly go back to the hotel, if asked, to help the new owners by describing how the equipment was used and give them my ideas on setting up the museum.
My job as printer was to print the morning menus, broadsides, tickets etc. The fronts of the fancy evening menus were printed by an outside firm, usually in color, I imprinted the inside dinner menu and delivered them to the chef in the dining hall in the late afternoon.
I will never forget being “called on the carpet” shortly after starting the job when I printed Roast Lion as the main course, rather than Roast Loin. From that time on, I had to show a menu to the chef, for his approval, before printing them.
The Mount Washington was a showplace in 1952 and it was also beautiful when I returned to visit the print shop in 2003.
I would love to return for another visit as guest of the hotel. I am sure I could enlighten them about the lost art of being a “hand compositor” in one of the most beautiful hotels in the country.
Ralph W. Staples, Printer

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us. I love hearing these stories.

Hi all,
I have seen the pictures and heard the story. I wasn’t born in the United States, and for that I would never have imagined such a shop! It seems like something out a movie. The water mechanism is absolutely fantastic; a tribute to printer’s ingenuity.

I hope the hotel keeps everything, it would be a loss if not.



wow Ralph what a story. Thanks for sharing. You should consider writing down your experience and time there. The account would make a great piece for a museum.

I wasn’t aware of all this while it was happening and just found the discussion while searching for something else. Is there any update on the status of the print shop? I’m fascinated (and hopeful).


Interesting story and lovely to see bits of history that have not been upgraded multiple times.

I saw a web page that mentioned another historical water powered press.

Not sure exactly where, but seems like a town called El Dorado in Kansas.

In the middle stood the cylinder press on which the Gazette was printed: a Cottrell equipped with a water motor …

The link to this is http://www.kshs.org/cool2/coolwhit.htm

Update 2009 December:

I made a quick search and see that the hotel is huge and rather spectacular, it even has a Wikipedia page and some impressive promotional sites but none of them mention the water powered press and they could well do that. At least part of the year the print shop could pay its own way with a 200 room hotel and two golf courses. Especially if it also had a photo copier and a digital photo printer for the more modern guests hidden behind the counter to make them come in the door.

Some links below, with pictures, a bit far for me to visit but I certainly would make a detour if I was nearby and the press was operating. If one of the people who posted picture links is happy to have one of the pictures in the Wiki commons I will edit the page to link to it, people who see the photo may start to encourage the management to revive the print shop program.

The corporate site http://www.mtwashington.com/

A historical wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Washington_Hotel

A positive hotel review http://www.historic-hotels-lodges.com/new-hampshire/mount-washington-hot...

Does anyone know where on this aerial photo the print shop is located?



Kalle Pihlajasaari - Idyllic Press
Johannesburg - South Africa

I know this was years ago, but was anything done to save it?

I came across this info on WhiteMountainHistory.org and wanted to pass it along.

“Twenty years of disuse has taken its toll and the building is in a state of disrepair. WhiteMountainHistory.org nominated the Print Shop for inclusion on the 2010 New Hampshire Preservation Alliance “Seven To Save” list and the nomination was accepted. We will be working with the Omni Mt. Washington Hotel to preserve and restore the building and equipment with the hope that it will be accessible to guests of the hotel and others interested in a unique example of American technology. Joining in this effort will be the Preservation Alliance, the Printing Museum, the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, and others.”

Mary Patton - I have been wondering the same, and now there is a new thread and exciting update.