A drive through the small town of Sudbury, VT, along Rte 30, (one of those “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” Vermont towns) is pleasant enough and the bucolic scenery relaxing. I’ve made the drive many times myself on the way to work but one thing always seemed to pique my curiosity along the way…just for a second or two. As you’re driving south on Rte 30, you’ll see this magnificent, though decrepit building to your left, mostly hidden by trees. Yet, it still peeks out just enough to intrigue you and majestic enough to make you wonder just why such a building sits decaying in the middle of nowhere. For months, I wondered about this building and finally I stumbled across the answers.
The rapidly decaying building is officially known as Hyde Manor, a once grand antebellum resort hotel, now a crumbling shell of its former self. One can only wonder how majestic this structure was in it’s glory days. Constructed in 1865, its history originates as early as 1798. The Hyde Manor’s origin was as a small place known as “Mills Tavern”. In 1801, Pitt Hyde purchased the tavern and 47.5 surrounding acres. Hyde also owned a stage line that transported mail and passengers between Montréal and Albany. Back then Rte 30 was merely a rough hewn dirt road. In 1805, the stage road was upgraded into the Hubbardton Turnpike, (the equivalent of today’s Route 7). The upgraded portion of the turnpike terminated at Hyde’s Tavern, providing a huge business advantage. Pitt Hyde’s son James, later took over the operation.He then commenced to offer all-night Yankee balls at the tavern which became very successful, creating a loyal customer following.
By the mid-century, James Hyde had established and improved the property, which then became known as Hyde’s Hotel. New rail and water access made the area easily accessible to wealthy tourists in the mid 1800’s. In addition to the scenic tranquility of the Vermont countryside, Hyde also promoted nearby mineral springs as “healing waters” which proved enticing to affluent travelers from the cities and urban areas. A fire decimated the building in 1862, providing the Hydes with an opportunity to rebuild in a larger, more ornate fashion. This resulted in the regal Italianate building that still stands today. The resort became even more popular in the forthcoming years. The hotel was eventually passed down to James’ son A.W. Hyde. A.W. again renovated and expanded the property, changing the name to Hyde Manor. Capacity was expanded to accomodate 300 guests (which at the time was more than half the population of Sudbury). New structures were added, such as the Casino, which offered a stage for live performances, and a circular building with a noticeably peaked roof. This odd little building was built specifically for a place for men to play cards. It has been restored and is still standing today. The Amusement Hall equipped with luxuries such as a bowling alley, billiard tables, a barber shop and dark room was also added. Hyde Manor also owned and hosted a 9 hole golf course across the road and a private boathouse on Lake Hortonia. Skiers could enjoy a ski hill and rope tow on a steep slope directly behind the hotel. After a long journey to the hills of Vermont, the Hyde Manor resort offered everything needed for a lengthy vacation getaway. Hyde Manor eventually became so popular that it usurped the town of Sudbury as the official location name.
All seemed well with the Hyde Manor resort, a majestic place where you could truly relax and enjoy a brief respite from everyday life. In the 1940’s, the fall of the Hyde Manor began with a huge fire within the hotel’s annex building, know as the largest in Sudbury’s history. The resort continued to decline as improvements in travel, technology and progress offered people much more diverse travel options. The Hyde Manor’s glory days were rapidly fading away as automobiles opened the way for small hotels, inns and other recreational options increased. The Hyde’s eventually sold the resort and property in 1962. It operated as “The Top of the Seasons” until 1970 when it eventually closed forever.
As of 2013, the formerly grand Hyde Resort is a fading memory of its glorious past, obscured by trees and overgrowth as the land takes back the property. The front of the hotel’s “tower” is sagging and on the verge of falling down. Sadly, most of the smaller buildings are decaying and being reclaimed by the surrounding foliage.
It’s easy to drive by and think that the Hyde Manor is abandoned and vacant but oddly enough it’s not. One of the small buildings is occupied by it’s current owners who could not afford to renovate or even demolish the resort. As tempting as it might be to explore, be aware that the property is occupied and it’s doubtful that the owners would welcome intruders, ghost busters or curiosity seekers. I would like to thank Chad Abramovich at UrbanPost Mortem for his gracious permission and invaluable help in preparing this article. Chad has a wealth of info and photos about the Hyde Manor, that is simply fantastic. There is also a video mentioning Hyde Manor on our Lost Ski Areas page. An MP3 about Hyde Manor can be heard at Vermont Public Radio.
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