In Episode 266, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger explore the haunted Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Built in the White Mountains in 1900 by Joseph Stickney, he didn’t live long enough to get much use out of the hotel. His widow, Princess Carolyn inherited the hotel and made a reputation for throwing lavish parties and always being the best dressed. In 1944, the hotel was home to a huge international conference that would give rise to the IMF, the World Bank, and conspiracy theories that suggest maybe darker forces infiltrated those meetings.
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[DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES]
RAY: The Mt. Washington Hotel is beautiful, Jeff!
JEFF: It is. It’s a grand hotel from another era. When we walked in it felt almost like we’re stepping back in time to a century ago.
RAY: That’s kind of what we do no matter where we go.
JEFF: Good point.
RAY: Still, I know what you mean. There aren’t many big hotels like this anymore. And the views are incredible!
JEFF: They are. Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, is nestled right here at the base of Mt. Washington, New England’s highest peak. So you’ve got the White Mountains, these open fields, the fall foliage. It’s picture-perfect New England.
RAY: I can only imagine the famous people who have come and gone here over the years.
JEFF: You don’t know the half of it, Ray. The World Bank was born in this building, along with tails of connections to international espionage and maybe even secret societies. And if that isn’t enough for you… they say the Mount Washington Hotel is one of New England’s most haunted.
JEFF: I’m Jeff Belanger, and welcome to Episode 266 of the New England Legends podcast.
RAY: And I’m Ray Auger. Thank you for joining us on our mission to chronicle every legend in New England one story at a time. We’re glad to have you in our community of legend seekers who are always on the hunt for ghosts, monsters, aliens, and other odd history that makes New England the place that it is today.
JEFF: If you’ve got a story you think we should check out, please contact us through our Web site where you can also hear our entire backlog of episodes, there’s video clips to the New England Legends television series that you can watch right now on Amazon Prime, and upcoming dates for my story tour, and Ray’s band the Pub Kings.
RAY: Before we go searching for the ghosts of the Mt. Washington Hotel, AND for the World Bank, we want to take just a minute to tell you about our sponsor, Nuwati Herbals!
JEFF: Ray, the Mt. Washington Hotel has a big spa attached to it.
RAY: Yeah, I saw that.
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RAY: Okay, Jeff. The Mt. Washington Hotel is impressive.
JEFF: It is. If we head over here by the front desk, you can see a large painting mounted over the hallway just to our right.
RAY: There’s a painting of a striking woman with dark hair and piercing eyes. She’s wearing a fancy white dress. And the painting is mounted behind a railing so it looks like she’s looking out over a balcony.
JEFF: That would be Carolyn Foster Stickney. She’s better known as the princess, and she’s also the most prominent ghost here.
RAY: Here’s a little more background on the Mt. Washington Hotel. In the year 1900, Joseph Stickney dropped $1.7 million dollars of his own money to build this giant hotel. He hired 250 Italian artisans for the construction project. He spared no expense to make sure this hotel offered the lap of luxury.
JEFF: Those Italian artisans were a superstitious group, too.
RAY: How so?
JEFF: You see that grand staircase behind us here at the front desk?
RAY: Yup. It’s hard to miss.
JEFF: There are 33 steps to the second floor.
JEFF: If we head over toward the south side of the building. This staircase has only 31 steps up to the second floor.
RAY: Why would they be different?
JEFF: They vary the steps to confuse the ghosts and spirits and keep them from haunting the building.
RAY: That’s weird. I’ve never heard of that!
JEFF: And by many accounts, varying the steps didn’t work anyway, because this building is still haunted.
RAY: The Mt. Washington Hotel opened on July 28, 1902. At the grand opening, Joseph Stickney said, and I quote, “Look at me, gentlemen. For I am the poor fool who built all of this.”
JEFF: Ha! He did spend most of his fortune getting this place open. Maybe he was having second thoughts… a little buyer’s remorse… about building such a big hotel so far from everywhere.
RAY: His didn’t have that long to second-guess his finances, because Stickney died suddenly about a year-and-a-half after the hotel opened. He was 63 years old. The hotel was left to Stickney’s young widow, Carolyn.
JEFF: Let’s head back to 1914, and see the Mt. Washington Hotel in its early days.
[FANCY ORCHESTRA MUSIC]
[PEOPLE AT A COCKTAIL PARTY]
RAY: It’s July of 1914 here at the Mt. Washington Hotel. There’s a swanky party going on. All of the guests are impeccably dressed with tuxedos and ball gowns. Carolyn Stickney remarried last year, and now she’s returned to her hotel as royalty.
JEFF: That’s right! Last year she married the Prince of Lucinges, France, making her a princess. Every princess needs a castle, and the Mt. Washington Hotel is Carolyn’s.
RAY: Speaking of Carolyn, I don’t see her anywhere among the guests.
JEFF: I don’t either. Wait… look up there at the balcony, Ray.
RAY: I just saw a woman peaking over the banister. But she quickly ducked away.
JEFF: I THINK that was Carolyn, but I’m not sure.
RAY: No matter what, the Mt. Washington Hotel is bustling with guests. There’s champagne, caviar, I’m not sure how well two regular schmoes like us can blend in here, Jeff.
JEFF: We’ll try our best. Cheers!
RAY: Cheers. (BEAT) Oh, here comes Carolyn down the main staircase now.
JEFF: Wow! What a gown! She stands out, doesn’t she?
RAY: She does!
JEFF: Ha! I just overheard one of the guests say that this is how Carolyn always makes her entrance.
RAY: What do you mean?
JEFF: She’ll peak over the banister to check out how all of the women are dressed, and then she’ll choose her outfit to make sure she’s the best dressed out of everyone.
RAY: That’s how the summers go here at the Mt. Washington Hotel. By the autumn, the hotel closes up for the winter because this whole region can get snowed in, so there’s no point in staying open. Then spring comes again. The parties start up, and people come here to see and be seen.
JEFF: The Mt. Washington is a favorite of Carolyn. It’s here she can hold court with the upper crust. She takes pride in her hotel and being the best-dressed in the room every time.
RAY: Even through the Great Depression, the Mt. Washington Hotel survives because not everyone is broke, and people still love to get away to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
JEFF: That’s very true. These mountains are only becoming a bigger draw for tourists. Carolyn’s second husband passes away in 1922, but the twice widowed Carolyn continues visiting her hotel each summer and throwing her lavish parties.
RAY: Prohibition doesn’t seem to slow this place down, either.
JEFF: No, it doesn’t. We’re just about 60 miles from the Canadian border as the ghost flies. So getting illegal booze isn’t too difficult.
RAY: That makes sense. There are plenty of rum runners around to make the journey to Canada. And the Mt. Washington Hotel has underground places that are perfect for a speakeasy.
JEFF: More years come and go, and Carolyn, as usual, peaks over the banister before getting dressed for her famous summer parties. Parties that continue no matter how bad times get for the nation.
RAY: It’s 1936, and the Mt. Washington Hotel has closed for another season. Sadly, Carolyn won’t live to see the next summer party. She passes away on November 2nd. She was 67 years old.
JEFF: Though she’s gone, she’s NOT forgotten at the Mt. Washington. Not only that, as the staff were finishing the 1936 closure for the winter, they noticed lights on in Carolyn’s old room.
RAY: I’m sure that’s a simple mistake.
JEFF: Sure, it could be…. I’m sure you’re right.
RAY: It’s 1937, and America is still clawing its way out of the Great Depression. Another summer means another season of swanky parties.
[ORCHESTRA MUSIC AGAIN]
RAY: It’s strange, though.
JEFF: What’s that?
RAY: People keep seeing someone peak over the railing. It looks like Carolyn.
JEFF: I guess. But couldn’t it be another hotel guest?
[MUSIC FADES OUT]
JEFF: Sometimes, late at night when the hotel is quiet. Staff and guests also report seeing a woman dressed in a fancy ball gown, descending the main staircase before she vanishes. Everyone immediately thinks of Princess Carolyn. And that brings us back to today.
JEFF: Today, Room 314 is better known as the Princess Room because that’s the suite where Carolyn used to stay with her husband. Guests staying in that room have reported doors opening and closing, and waking up to find a woman sitting on the edge of the bed and meticulously brushing her hair. Varying the number of steps in the two staircases has done NOTHING to detract the ghost of Princess Carolyn.
RAY: Plus, there’s that piercing painting of her in the lobby. It doesn’t take much imagination to think those eyes are following you. (BEAT) Okay, but what about the World Bank, spies, and the secret societies? I’m ready for some wild conspiracies, Jeff!
JEFF: Right. That. On July 1st, 1944, 730 delegates from 44 nations converged on the Mt. Washington Hotel for a 22-day conference. World War II was ending, and there’s a need to rebuild a global economy. Because these 44 nations realized, a big way to maintain peace, is through money. If a nation is financially desperate, then war suddenly becomes a really good idea.
RAY: This was a hectic time for the Mt. Washington Hotel. It had been closed for two years, and the ownership had to be persuaded to open up again for this unique global event. The remote location made it the perfect venue. The staff had only one month to prepare.
JEFF: The aim of the conference was to establish an International Monetary Fund or the IMF, and establish the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which was later part of the World Bank. The conference aim was to give governments more control over financial markets and hopefully develop the financial tools needed to keep a dictator like Hitler from ever rising to power again.
RAY: As you can imagine, there’s a lot riding on this conference. Billions of dollars are at stake, plus, whichever country holds more of the purse-strings will ultimately wield more power and influence. Everyone at the conference is jockeying to get their country the most they can get.
JEFF: Harry Dexter White, was the U.S. negotiator at the conference and worked for the U.S. Treasury. It would later be shown that he was a spy, and handing documents over to the Soviet Union.
RAY: Still, the conference did launch those giant organizations that are still around today, namely the IMF and World Bank.
JEFF: And that’s led to speculation by conspiracy theorists that not only were their traitors and spies in that group, but maybe higher forces looking to infiltrate and control these global funds. After all, if you control the money and you control the world.
RAY: And we can’t help but wonder if at that conference maybe some of the attendees were spooked by forces bigger than global financial reforms. Maybe the ghost of Princess Carolyn also made an appearance.
JEFF: So much history and haunts at the Mt. Washington Hotel.
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If you go to our Web site you can see pictures of Princess Carolyn, plus some great shots of the Mt. Washington Hotel by the great Frank Grace.
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We’d like to thank our sponsor, Nuwati Herbals, thank you to our patreon patrons, and our theme music is by John Judd.
Until next time remember… the bizarre is closer than you think.