Welcome to another installment of our building history series. In light of our recent post on the Darling Estate (Burklyn Hall/Manor), we thought we would take a look at another one of Elmer Darling’s business ventures — the Darling Inn in Lyndon, Vermont (follow link to see our picture gallery).
The Darling Inn is of significance for exemplary architectural design and for its role as a landmark in local community life. Designed in the Federal Revival Style, of which few formal examples exist in Vermont, the building is thought to be the last major, high-style expression of the Colonial Revival architectural idiom in the stat, built prior to the onset of the Great Depression.
The Darling Inn replaced the former Lyndon Hotel which burned on January 21, 1924. The site had been continuously occupied by hostelries, reputedly of lesser quality than the Darling Inn, since before the great fire of 1894. These establishments included Chase’s Hotel and Webb’s Hotel, the latter having been rebuilt twice.
Lyndonville was a planned whose origin dates to 1866 when a severe fire in the railroad yards in St. Johnsbury (Vermont) caused the Connecticut and Passumpsic Railroad to remove its operation six miles to the north and develop a 334 acre site for railroad and commercial/residential use. In February, 1927, agreeing upon the need for respectable lodgings and a space for formal assemblies in the community, a building committee of public spirited citizens was formed and chaired by O.D. Mathewson.
A corporation, the Lyndonville Hotel Company Inc., was later formed to manage the property. Elmer A. Darling, 30 years of age in 1928 and a member of the building committee, contributed the two lots upon which the inn is now situated. Mr. Darling, a native of East Burke, Vermont, had a distinguished career in hotel management and was remembered as the former manager of the exclusive Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City.
Darling personally designed the interior of the main dining room which seated 88 and was in part responsible for the hotel’s reputation as the most luxurious lodging in the State of Vermont when it opened on June 7,m 1928. William C. Roberts of Greenfield, Massachusetts was the first manager of the 55-room facility.
For many years the Darling Inn was the focal point of both large and intimate community functions and was patronized by the Rotary Club as well as visiting executives of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Surviving a series of ownerships after 1942, including an 11-year period of management by retired U.S. Army Sergeant Alfred H. Darling (1945-1956), the hotel was converted for use as a convalescent and retirement home in 1964 under the ownership of Andrew Janis of Manchester, New Hampshire.
The hotel’s former reputation and elegant visual contribution to the streetscape of Lyndonville lent itself well to the adaptive use so that as late as 1972, newspaper accounts still referred to the property as “a Gem in the Green.” The building has been vacant since its termination as a retirement/nursing facility in 1977.
Since this was written in 1980, the Darling Inn is now affordable housing for senior citizens called The Darling Inn Apartment managed by Rural Edge.