Before national franchises, hotels in the early part of this century were elegant destinations. Trains provided mobility, and a booming economy created a new type of business traveler. It didn't hurt that American hoteliers, elbowing for a place beside the grand European hotels, lavished money and style on their buildings.
Hotels such as the Beverly Hills, du Pont, and Mount Washington sprang up to serve a wealthy clientele. They also became a source of community pride.
But with the growth of interstate highways, family trips by automobile, and Americans' desire for reliable, predictable, and economic service en route, hotel chains began to eclipse their grander counterparts. Business accounts shrank. Hotels changed owners.
Despite such hardships, these three remarkable historic hotels have survived and, thanks to renovations, are flourishing again.