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2004 Champlain Historic Calendar

The Locust Hill Mansion

a.k.a.

The Savoy Hotel

            On the cold morning of Tuesday, February 18, 2003, the Village of Champlain lost forever another of its historic homes.  The former Savoy Hotel burned to the ground, and with it, a part of Champlain’s early history. 

            Opened in 1930 as a hotel, Champlain’s residents will likely remember the Savoy as a place where people could have a drink after work, attend parties, banquets and weddings, or board in one of the upstairs rooms.  Most people, however, are unaware of who built the Savoy or the family that lived there for almost 80 years before the establishment of the hotel. 

            The Savoy was built by Champlain businessman Bartlett Nye starting in May of 1851.  One of the first things he did was to plant Locust trees in the front yard on the hill.  The trees were the reason the estate was always called “Locust Hill”. 

            Bartlett Nye was born in Plympton, Massachusetts, on January 8, 1799, and was a Mayflower descendent.  His family moved to Burlington in 1806 and when he was 16, he moved to Champlain to be with his older brother Freeman who had moved there in 1807 at the same age. 

            In 1839, Bartlett married Lucy Matilda Moore who was the daughter of Noadiah Moore and grand-daughter of Pliny Moore, the founder of Champlain.  They had one child named Elizabeth Matilda Nye who was born in 1840.  Six months after giving birth to Elizabeth, Lucy and her baby contracted the measles.  At first the family was not alarmed by this.  Her sister Laura wrote her a letter from school in Middlebury, Vermont, and mentioned the measles:  “Ma writes you have just commenced a seige [sic] with King Measles.  I hope you will soon drive him from the territory.”  Unfortunately, Lucy died two days after this letter was written.  Surprisingly, her baby daughter survived the sickness.  

            Baby Elizabeth was raised by her grandmother Caroline for the next year.  During that time, Lucy’s sister Laura was courted by Bartlett.  Laura was unsure if she should marry Bartlett but finally decided to and was married in October of 1842.  This made Elizabeth’s aunt her new mother.  Bartlett and Laura had seven children of which five survived to adulthood.  The children were Carolina Maria Nye, Margaret Barnes Nye, Ellen Rose Nye, Charles Freeman Nye, Grace Cornelia Nye, Mary Laura Nye and Bartlett Nye.  

            In 1817, at the age of 18, Bartlett went into partnership with his brother Freeman and established the firm of “F. & B. Nye”.  The two brothers acquired numerous farms and houses and owned shops, stores, mills and a dam.  In 1825, Freeman built a large estate called the “The Lines” just over the border where the current I-87 border crossing is and used his Canadian residency to help build their business in LaColle as well as Champlain.  Although Freeman lived in Canada the remainder of his life, he always kept his American citizenship. 

            The firm of F. & B. Nye owned a considerable amount of land and buildings in the Village of Champlain.  The Beers’ 1869 map of Champlain shows at least 10 references to the firm of “F. & B. Nye”.  Some of the buildings they owned included the brick buildings on Main Street formerly called the Champlain Hall and Champlain House.  The partnership even owned the Racine stone farm house on Prospect Street.  Bartlett was probably the wealthiest businessman in Champlain during the 1840s and 1850s.



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       [and this continues for several more pages and describes the building of the house and its 150 year history.  Another 20 or so pictures are displayed in this essay]. 

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2004 calendar-village of champlain images
Some images courtesy Special Collections Library, Plattsburgh State University College
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