Nostalgia Food Travel – A Visit to Newfane, Vermont

1950 Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places

1950 Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places

Not only do I love cooking vintage recipes from my vintage cookbooks, I love traveling roadside America looking for unique tourist attractions, quirky motels and lodgings, and Mom and Pop restaurants. My most recent cookbook find, Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places, dated 1950 fulfills both desires!

The cookbook features a new lodging on each page with a great painting of either the exterior (often with awesome 50s cars) or the interior that evoke a time when men and women dressed up for dinner and life was just a tad more elegant. Below the painting is a brief description of the lodging with a recipe that they are famous for.

One of the first things I did was find out which hotels still are in existence.

Stockton Inn Today

Stockton Inn Today

Many are gone, but some still exist like Colligan’s Stockton Inn (now called just the Stockton Inn) in Stockton, New Jersey. As they note in the description, their outdoor dining garden inspired the Rodgers and Hart melody “There’s a Small Hotel with a Wishing Well” which was used in the 1936 Rogers and Hart musical On Your Toes. When this cookbook was written the authors had no idea that in 1957 Frank Sinatra would make the song far more famous in the movie Pal Joey. You can hear the swank tune here!

The Stockton Inn’s recipe in the cookbook certainly won’t be anything I will be cooking – Terrapin A La Colligan. Meaning turtle. I’m not a picky eater, but there are a few things I won’t eat and turtle is one of them. Plus I think it’s just a tad difficult to find anymore.

Windham County Hotel (and Jail)

Windham County Hotel (and Jail)

So, tonight when I had a few spare minutes, I looked around to see what I had ingredients for and of course it was the ever faithful Banana Bread. I’m going to spare you another Banana Bread recipe, especially since this one was not a winner. It came out tasting like baking soda. But I did learn some fun facts about the Windham County Hotel in Newfane, Vermont.

First off, it’s been in existence since 1824 though it is no longer a lodging facility – well at least not for paying lodgers. I’m pretty sure it still functions as the Windham County jail.

It really has an amazing history to it. When it was built it started its life as the Windham County jail. The residents of Newfane needed a place for the men to stay who came into town to conduct court business, and so they added onto the jail a hotel. Enterprising! They are pretty sure its the only example of this unique combination in the country.

Who doesn't use convicts at their hotel?

Who doesn't use convicts at their hotel?

In the 19th century, this didn’t seem to worry the paying customers as much, but by the 20th century, its seems inn goers began to balk when the inmates were used as gardening staff and other types of workers around the inn. Seemed like a good idea to the hearty Newfaners!

I’ve seen a postcard of the Windham County Hotel from as late as the 1950s showing it as a still functioning lodging property, but at some point Newfane wisely turned the Hotel over to their Police Department who now are the sole owners of this fine establishement.

Windham County Hotel Banana Bread Recipe

Windham County Hotel Banana Bread Recipe

While browsing the Police Department’s Facebook Page I found this cool picture that shows that recipes from the Ford Treasury cookbook were used as giveaways with the Aunt Jemima Pancake Box, including this Banana Bread recipe. What great national advertising for the Windham County Hotel! And what a surprise for the unknowing guest who drove up to find the jail attached. But it obviously worked for them for over 130 years! So if you’re ever in Newfane, be sure to drive by the Police Department and imagine staying there in its glory day as the Windham County Hotel. But pass on their Banana Bread.

Leave A Comment...