Although the coastal properties along the southeastern Connecticut shoreline are still some very nice pieces of real estate, it's easy to forget that the area used to be full of getaways for the well-to-do. People who vacationed in places like the Pequot Colony frequently made it into the society pages. And I couldn't help but chuckle while reading through this original 1923 advertisement for The Griswold, as it's practically dripping with upper-class snootiness.
This is another piece from the Paper History Company in Maine, and it contains an aerial view of the luxurious hotel and nearby scenes. The description suggests that you're more likely to receive a warm welcome if you come from one of those "families of culture and refinement who enjoy spending their summer days at the seashore." It goes on to list the amenities as including bridle paths, golf, a nearby yacht harbor, dancing, tennis, and "delightful entertainment, charming social life."
The advertisement is another case of generalization when it comes to southeastern Connecticut. Several people have told me of their annoyance upon seeing some unsavory news from outside the city limits connected with New London, either because the court is here or because it has simply been passed off as involving the "New London area." It works both ways, however. Although the advertisement lists the hotel as being situated in New London, it's actually in the Eastern Point of Groton.
The Griswold replaced another hotel, the decaying Fort Griswold House, which had been purchased by railroad executive and philanthropist Morton F. Plant. In less than a year, the old building was torn down and replaced by the enormous new 400-room hotel. Opened in 1906, it was designed by Robert W. Gibson of New York and built by Maquire and Penniman of Providence. It hosted the Yale-Harvard Regatta every spring and saw famous guests such as the Rockefellers, the Vanderbuilts, William Howard Taft, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Putting New London as the location may not have been too inaccurate, considering the numerous connections The Griswold had with this city. Porters met guests at Union Station, special boats carried people directly to the hotel, and those arriving by car had to take the ferry across the Thames.
Six years after this advertisement ran, the stock market crash marked the beginning of the end for The Griswold. Although Milton O. Slosberg invested heavily in the hotel in an attempt to keep it afloat in the 1950s and 1960s, he ultimately closed it in 1967. The contents were auctioned off the next year and the structure was demolished in 1969.
The advertisement is 4.25 by 11.5 inches, and the opening bid is $12.98 with free shipping in the United States. The auction ends at about 2:08 p.m. on Wednesday.