How The Hotchkiss School Saved the Interlaken Inn

Today is St. Patrick's Day so we are embracing the luck by telling the story of how we got pretty lucky when The Hotchkiss School came to save The Interlaken Inn on April 27th, 1925.

On that day, the owners, John & Elizabeth Percy were ready to open the brand new Interlaken Inn. They had recently bought the property from Mrs. Shaw, who had owned it since 1891. The couple moved from New York City where John had been a well-known engineer. They were excited by the opportunity to own a country inn and make their money in a fun way. After months of hard work adding running water, electricity, telephones, and new furniture, the construction crew was cleaning up the excess materials. They did so by setting a fire in the large double-sided fireplace in the middle of the main building. As they tossed things in, the flames got extremely high and the sparks were hitting the wood roof. Those sparks eventually set the roof ablaze in an engulfing fire.

As the building burned from the roof down and the Lakeville Hose Company ran buckets back and forth from the lake, John knew they needed more help. So, he called up to The Hotchkiss School, which still stands less right next door to us. At the time, the infamous boarding school was a boys' school opened by Maria Hotchkiss with the purpose of preparing young men to apply to Yale University.

Since its' opening in 1892, about 50 boys would attend the school per year. On April 27th, 1925, when Maria got the called from John Percy, she shut down her school and sent all 50 boys and all of the faculty running down the hill to help The Interlaken Inn. The boys helped pull whatever they could out of the burning building including sinks, bathtubs, furniture, etc. When the fire fighters finally got the fire under control, there was enough salvaged to reopen the inn just a few months later on July 4th, 1925.

We think it is pretty lucky that our neighbors at Hotchkiss came to help the Percys on that day! Without them, there is a chance they never would have recovered and we wouldn't be the beloved resort, conference center, and wedding venue that we are today. A special thanks to The Salisbury Association for providing us with interviews, photos, and more to recount this special story. As this blog post is being published, Jean McMillan, Salisbury's Town History is visiting us at The Interlaken Inn with the only copy of Elizabeth Percy's book, A Romance of The Interlaken Inn. It was printed in 1954 and recounts the story of this fire from her perspective. We can't wait to see it and continue to create history that will make The Percy's proud of The Interlaken Inn as it stands today!


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