Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bette Davis' Ski House

The Academy Award nominations were announced today, and that means it's movie season as well as ski season.  So, with a nod to the silver screen, here's a ski house with an unexpected history -- one that connects the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the golden era of Hollywood!  The Ski House of the Day is Butternut Lodge in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire.  This isn't an ordinary ski house...it was built in 1940 by the iconic American actress, Bette Davis!  The electrifying and individualistic Bette Davis was considered to be "the star" of Hollywood in the 1930's and into the 1940's (and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards during her movie career!).  It was during the height of that movie career that she constructed this house in the mountains of New Hampshire.

The vintage ski house, Butternut Lodge, retains the charm and character of that grand, bygone era, and is in the quintessential understated New England country style, with a twist of Hollywood glamour:

Butternut Lodge has 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, and is situated on 22 secluded private acres close to Franconia Notch with skiing there as well as at Cannon Mountain which is only about 5 miles away.

Imagine the glamorous movie star Bette Davis heading out into the snow from here with a pair of those long wooden skis from the '40's!

It has been said that the mountains of New England make you feel like you belong there;  and according to New Hampshire Adventures, White Mt News and other accounts, this house and the surrounding mountains were a refuge of sorts for Bette Davis, providing her with a place to feel at home while enjoying a measure of anonymity.  In return she brought some Hollywood glamour and her generous personal philanthropy to this quiet rural area.  So this ski house seems to have been born out of a connection between anonymity and fame, glamour and philanthropy.  That connection continues to linger;  and to experience this house is to experience that connection.

Along one side of the house is a unique silo (which is said to have been re-purposed from an old Vermont barn) which still holds the grand staircase that leads from the bar on the first floor up to Bette Davis' master bedroom, and then continues up to the third floor sitting room/observation area with sweeping views:

The house is split in half by a massive, central, double-sided brick fireplace:
...with a formal living room on one side:

...and an open kitchen/family room on the other side:
This looks like a nice spot to relax apres-ski, and maybe watch a Bette Davis movie or two!

Bette Davis, with the help of her mother, filled the house with antiques; and the original vintage New England character of the house has been lovingly maintained throughout:

With its wonderful history, I think it's really amazing that Butternut Lodge is available for vacation rentals!  

Here's the huge master bedroom suite, where you can fall asleep in the same space as Bette Davis did all those years ago:


Another bedroom was originally the library...and it still retains a bit of that identity, as well as a bit of the identity of the intriguing movie star who created this house:


Life Magazine published this photo of Bette Davis in 1941...relaxing in her classic ski outfit and 1940's lace-up leather ski boots in front of the fire....possibly even taken in front of the brick fireplace right in this ski house:

......And years later Life concluded that she was the most significant actress of her era.  Yet world-famous Bette Davis, it seems, felt a strong sense of belonging at home in these quiet, seasonal snow-covered mountains.

"A New Englander never forgets New England, the change of seasons, and these mountains that really make you feel like you belong here....I've just got the New England blood in my veins."     -- Bette Davis 



1 comment:

  1. Denice! What a great find! Let's go there, with or without the guys!! L.

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