DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. (AP) — Decades of history and hospitality have been sold at auction in the latest step toward restoring the nearly 150-year-old Balsams Grand Resort Hotel, known for hosting the earliest voting in the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
Saturday’s auction included more than 2,400 items, many encompassing the entire contents of guest rooms and other spaces. Mahogany chairs were being sold in groups of eight, dishes stamped with the hotel logo in sets of 10 and everything from towels and sheets to tablecloths in groups of 25.
Some of the quirkier items included chairs from the resort’s ski lift, an antique fire pump truck and an old barber’s chair, which sold for $1,600.
More than 1,500 people, most of them registered bidders, showed up for the auction, said Scott Tranchemontagne, spokesman for Balsams View LLC, which bought the hotel in December.
“We’re obviously pleased with the turnout, and the bidding has been robust,” he said.
By mid-afternoon, about 1,200 items had been sold, Tranchemontagne said. The auction was expected to continue into the evening.
Bidding was particularly brisk for the vintage barber’s chair, with two people bidding back and forth before it sold. A copper water-cooling machine sold for $850.
The auctioneer was unable to sell a biomass plant in its entirety and ended up selling its turbines, generators, tools and other parts separately.
The Balsams, located in remote northern New Hampshire, is one of four hotels that remain from the state’s grand hotel era, which ended around the turn of the 20th century. It has four private lakes, a golf course and a downhill ski area and could accommodate up to 400 guests. It closed in September.
Balsams View LLC, led by two local businessmen, plans to re-open the hotel in July 2013 after extensive renovations, though a recent snag involving approval for subdividing the land has temporarily stalled the project. A special meeting to address the planning board’s concerns is set for later this month.
The hotel got its start as a small inn, the Dix House, which opened just after the Civil War. In 1895, industrialist Henry Hale bought the Dix House and renamed it The Balsams. He completed a major renovation in 1918, doubling the resort’s capacity to 400 guests.
For decades, the hotel has been known for its role in the presidential primary. The auction did not include any furniture or photos from the famed Ballot Room, where residents vote just after midnight every four years, but a few memorabilia items from there were up for grabs, including the posters on which votes were tallied for the 2008 and 2012 primaries.
Auction officials said they expected total sales to add up to between $200,000 and $250,000.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.