The one question asked here over and over again is “did somebody new buy The Mount?” The answer is a resounding NO! In her rich 137-year history, the Fox family has owned The Mount the longest. Now she is undergoing a well-deserved second-generation revival, which we believe has sparked new interest and the occasional tittle-tattle around town. While we love all the attention and wholeheartedly agree with Oscar Wilde when he said “there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about,” we also think the record needs to be set straight…tame, torrid or otherwise.
Yes, it’s true that the Mount Washington House has changed hands many times throughout her history (most likely due to the high maintenance of this 14,000 square-foot building) but, the most part, it has always served as a tavern, restaurant and guest house. Built in 1881 by newlyweds Levi and Emma Zeh as a wedding present from the bride’s family, it was originally intended as a summer house, open only June 15th to September 15th. It’s also true that there was a Speakeasy in the ballroom on the third floor during Prohibition, which probably brought with it everything history claims it did – live bands, floor shows, flappers and… some corruption!
When Prohibition ended in 1933, The Mount had changed forever. Try as we might, we have no solid evidence that it ever served as a brothel. And, while the architectural style of The Mount is Second Empire Mansard (a style most associated with Halloween, hauntings and spirits), we’ve never encountered ghosts. During World War II the building served as the area’s high school while the Roe Jan School was built. In the 1950’s, Paul and Asta Nord owned The Mount and were successful in creating a popular destination for Scandinavian tourists who would take the “SkiBus” from Manhattan to come ski at Catamount. (A recent restoration relocated the huge Fjord painting by a Norwegian guest in 1951 from the banquet room to the tavern.) The Nord’s famous Smorgasbord remained integral part of the business though the 1970’s.
The Fox family has had the longest love affair with the Mount Washington House. Jimmy Fox, originally from Brewster, NY, bought the fixer-upper of all fixer-uppers in 1972. After being declined for not one, but two mortgages, he didn’t give up. Young Jimmy literally surprised his new bride, Marjorie, with the purchase of the building in their second year of marriage. It seemed like a great idea at the time since the house was within walking distance from the train to Manhattan, but rail service stopped just nineteen days after he bought it. Fortunately, Margie didn’t divorce him and they had one daughter in 1973. Jim Fox passed away after a brief bout with cancer in 1993 and Marge ran the tavern until she died in 2006. Their daughter has started to finish the renovations her father started long ago. Today, the Mount Washington House serves as a restaurant that dishes up really good pub food, a tavern that inspires friendship, good conversations and a great game of billiards, and a place where local musicians regularly entertain our souls.
We welcome you to the Mount Washington House!