Pittsfield Historical Society’s
History of Pittsfield
Lancey House Page
This page is dedicated to our photo collection of the Lancey House.
| The Colonel William Lancey (1775 – 1836) family moved to Pittsfield in 1824 and bought property at the northeast corner of Easy and Main Streets and became licensed as innkeepers. Colonel William Lancey opened the Lancey Hotel at that site around 1829. It was managed in succession by William Lancey, Susanne Lancey (William’s widow), and finally by Isaac Lancey (William’s eldest son).
When the Lancey House was built at the southeast corner of Hunnewell and Main Streets in 1868, the Lancey Hotel was used as a residence for the Lancey family. In 1928 it was bought by George M. Parks and donated to the Universalist Church. It was used as the Universalist Church parsonage from 1928 until it was torn down in 1956 when the corner lot was sold to build a Sunoco gas station. More about this building here.
| The drawing on the right shows the Lancey House as it was originally built.
In 1868, Isaac H. Lancey (1827 – 1898) built, at a cost of $15,000, the famous “Lancey House”, which welcomed guests from all over the world. The name “Lancey House” became synonymous with gracious living in “your home away from home”.
In 1885, Colonel William Morrill built a livery stable between the Lancey House and the railroad tracks.
| In 1890 D.E. Fiske purchased the lease of the Lancey House from Mr. Blackden. In 1892 the Lancey House was temporarily closed as the result of a raid, which resulted in a change of management.
The photo at right is from a postcard commissioned by Pittsfield druggist H. H. Nutter, and printed in Germany. This is how the Lancey House looked the summer before the October fire.
|The Lancey House burned in October, 1906, with $25,000 in damages. The fire left Pittsfield without a hotel for nearly five years until it was rebuilt by builder Preston Hersey and re-opened in 1911.|
|The newly rebuilt Lancey House in 1911, showing WG Morrill Livery and Sale Stable in rear, which had escaped the 1906 fire.|
| The “new” Lancey House around 1912.
In 1929, Willard W. Lehr, Sr. purchased the Lancey House and operated it until 1945. In 1940, he added a coffee shop.
In 1941, the top of the Lancey House became a civil defense observation post, and remained so for the rest of WW2.
|View from probably the late 1920’s. Can anyone remember what model year those cars are?|
|The Lancey House in a 1941 postmarked post card. Notice the gas station next door which replaced the open yard seen in the 1912 photo above.|
|The Lancey House about 1950. In January 1945, J. R. Cianchette purchased the Lancey House. With characteristic enthusiasm, Cianchette immediately began making plans to renovate the establishment from cellar to roof. Many improvements were made, but the most startling changes occurred on the first floor under the supervision of hotel architects from Massachusetts. The lobby, dining area, and bar were completely modernized. The dining room, with its murals depicting Maine seascapes and inland beauty spots, was most attractive and in a very short time its reputation for fine food and delightful atmosphere spread throughout New England. Norman Wright, a former resident of Pittsfield, was the first manager under the new ownership. Later Darrell Dunton was promoted to Manager, then came George Pratt, James Murphy, Al Marsano and Lloyd Jamieson.|
| On right is a photo of the Lancey House around 1950. Note Dan’s Lunch on far left of photo. Texaco gas station on right is today the site of Veteran’s Park.
In the course of five years, the famous old hostelry had five owners. After fifteen years of proprietorship that rivaled the heyday of Isaac Lancey, J. R. Cianchette turned it over, in 1960, to Leon E. Gordon who was in charge only for a short spell when it was sold to the Cianchette brothers, with Clair Cianchette as manager. During this regime, a serious fire damaged the kitchen and coffee shop, which were quickly restored. In August 1965, the hotel was sold to Norman S. Stafford of Winchester, Mass.
|In this June 1955 photo, President Eisenhower is passing the Lancey House on his visit to town.|
| On October 30 1965, another blaze occurred that completely crippled the property. This photo was taken by Pittsfield photographer William Fowlie. Mr. Stafford’s decision not to carry on resulted in a widely advertised public auction that stripped the remains of furniture and equipment by December. In March 1966, the remains of building itself was then sold to Frank ‘Bud’ Homstead, owner of Bud’s Supermarket adjacent to the hotel parking area. Although during 1966 there was still much talk of building a new Lancey House, in September the demolition of the remains had begun and was completed by early October, leaving a vacant lot. By June 1969 the lot was finally filled in and beautified. In 1970, a branch of the Waterville Savings Bank (now People’s Heritage Bank) was built on the lot.
More photos and history coming in a future edition.
The Lancey House remembered. People who worked there, people who partied there, people who stayed there.