A gem is gone. The Deer’s Head Inn ceased operation on January 17, 2015.
Located in Elizabethtown, the Deer’s Head Inn was known for “fine country dining in the manner of years ago”. It was the Adirondack’s oldest Inn.
Although not in Essex, I feel this is important because it has impacted the lives of many Willsboro and Essex residents.
History of the Deer’s Head Inn
The Deer’s Head Inn, originally built where the grocery store is located today, opened as a hostelry in 1808. Twenty years later it burned, and the remains were moved to the present location, reconstructed, and renamed The Mansion House.
During Prohibition Ben Stetson moved his entire liquor stash to a hiding spot under the Annex Porch.
During the War of 1812, some rooms were used as a hospital and later as a school. During Prohibition, the owner at that time, Ben Stetson, moved his entire liquor stash to a hiding spot under the Annex Porch where he could retrieve bottles with a long pole. The hiding spot was exposed in 1991 when the porch was replaced. The remaining bottles were all empty!
Famous guests included President Grover Cleveland, President Benjamin Harrison, and the widow of John Brown.
1968 saw the last of this big resort and the main buildings were demolished due to lack of use. The Annex was kept, and the name reverted to the Deer’s Head Inn. It remained in operation for the next several decades.
A Family Connection to the Deer’s Head Inn
My mother, Ethel Potts Bernard spent much of her youth in the neighbouring Willsboro with her parents, George and Sara Potts, and Hugh and Laurette, her siblings. On a trip back from Florida with her mother, the car was involved in an accident and they had to stay overnight in the Deer’s Head Inn. She must have been around 10 years old.
She enjoyed many meals there since. When she became a patient in the Community Hospital a few years ago at age 95, the staff at the Deer’s Head Inn used to bring her a lunch of her favourite salad once in a while.
I have included a page here from an old automobile guide, probably published around 1930. And I found some of the information for this post in an article by John Delarue, a former Inn Co-owner circa 1990.
Many of us miss the Deer’s Head Inn already.
Vintage Postcards from the Deer’s Head Inn
The following vintage postcards capture various stages of the Deer’s Head Inn’s history.