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Holyoke, Massachusetts

Eyrie House Ruins

The walkable ruins of an 18th century hotel, destroyed in a horse cremation gone wrong. 

In its heyday, the Eyrie House hotel on the top of Mount Nonotuck was a place to see and be seen. Today, it lies in ruins.

Owned and operated by one William Street and opened in 1861, the hotel included a picnic area, a croquet field, and masterful views of the winding Connecticut River and surrounding Mt. Tom mountain range. The hotel was at its peak in the 1880s, when it was patronized by several hundred travelers a day, who came from far and wide for both scenic picnics and fine dining in the Eyrie House’s elegant restaurant.

Unfortunately for Street, there were many jostling players in the hospitality game. Competition with the Prospect House atop Mt. Holyoke and the nearby Mt. Tom Summit House and Railway Park led to his own property’s decline over time. In 1893, Street began construction of a new hotel to replace the deteriorating Eyrie House. But instead of two hotels, he ended up with none.

The Eyrie House burned to the ground on the night of April 13th, 1901. Alone on the mountain that evening, Street had started a funeral pyre for two deceased horses. Before he knew it, the entire mountaintop was in flames. When the blaze finally died down, only the cellar holes and the walls of the building’s stone understory remained.

The frugal Street was underinsured and left unable to either reconstruct his old hotel or continue building his new one. Defeated, he lived out the rest of his life as a recluse. When the state of Massachusetts incorporated the Eyrie Hotel ruins into the new Mt. Tom Reservation, a $5000 check was deposited in Street’s bank account as a gesture of goodwill. However, Street’s frugality was matched only by his pride. He died having never touched the money.  

Know Before You Go

To get to the Eyrie House Ruins, continue past the entrance along Christopher Clark Rd until you come to the Ranger Station (Stone Building) from there the Eyrie House Ruins are about a 2 mile walk along the old road ( now closed to traffic)

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