Thousand Island House History

Liam averted her attention, pointing to the hotel. “Let’s start here with a brief history. The Thousand Island House was finished in 1873, the year after President Grant visited the islands with George Pullman and thus began the Golden Age of the Thousand Islands. Col. Orin G. Staples built the establishment in less than a year, and it’s been a popular destination ever since.”

Miss Bell put a thin finger to her chin. “I’ve heard of him. Didn’t Col. Staples start a medicine business in Watertown, sell it to someone in Albany, and build dozens of houses in the city with the profits?”

“Fifty-seven fine homes, to be exact. You have a keen memory. And just two years ago, he built the elegant Willard’s Hotel in Washington, D.C.”

“You don’t say?” She studied the four-story hotel. “He certainly is a talented businessman, and this hotel is mighty grand.”

He nodded. “Three-hundred-ninety-five rooms accommodate up to seven hundred guests, complete with family suites, a huge hundred-foot by forty-foot dining room, and a glorious six-hundred-and-twenty-four-foot grand promenade verandah.”

“My, there must be an army of staff to serve so many guests.” She put her hand to her chest.

He chuckled. “One-hundred-and-fifty. Most are locals.”

“But why is it named Thousand Island House without an ‘s’ on Islands. Aren’t there over eighteen hundred islands?”

He thought a moment. “I don’t rightly know. Maybe to be different? You ask some crackin’ good questions, miss. No wonder you’re a teacher.”

“Thank you, kind sir. I appreciate the complement.” Miss Bell grinned, her dark eyes sparkling like garnet gemstones.

They entered the hotel servants’ area and passed through an enormous and modern kitchen. Liam warmly greeted everyone he met, whether servant or guest. They deserved no less.

He led the pretty lass up the staff stairs and stopped before entering the first-floor corridor, keeping his words barely above a whisper so as not to disturb any guests. “I’ll take you floor by floor, but we must be discreet.”

“Of course, sir.” She nodded, her dark eyes twinkling with excitement.

Opening the door to a wide hallway, he began his tour. “On the first floor is the office, parlor, reception, reading rooms, bar, billiard room, telegraph office, barber shop, dining room, bathrooms and twenty-one guestrooms. You’ll rarely, if ever, need to come here, but follow me, please, while I drop off this envelope.”

On the way, Miss Bell’s curiosity reminded him of a wee lassie in a sweets shop. She peeked into the luxurious common areas, gawked at the elaborate artwork, and discretely glanced at the elegantly dressed patrons. No wonder she wanted to share that enthusiasm with the children.

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