Meet Your Hosts: Kent and Carol Smith
Welcome to the Historic Hood House Bed and Breakfast Hotel! We want to make your stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible!
Carol was raised in Ohio and New York, as a daughter and granddaughter to Episcopalian ministers, before coming out west to attend CU in Boulder, Colorado. There she received a degree in Medical Technology, her first passion. After losing her second husband to cancer, Carol found herself wandering to Wyoming. She fell in love with the Hood House and also the Verplanke house (next door, circa 1892). And eventually Kent! - a retired civil engineer, an avid fly fisherman and hunter. Kent does a fabulous job in the kitchen when the couple makes breakfast for a gang and his background in carpentry is a God-send. Carol enjoys creating the comfortable yet antique atmosphere of the Hood House. She grew up with antiques, so it is a good fit. Some of the pieces are really old pieces from her family, some found on eBay, some (the brass beds) from Pottery Barn. Carol's daughter, Adelaide, who has a Masters in Library Science, has made the big collection of books (some of which date back to her grandfather) approachable.
The History of Hood House Owners
The Hood House was originally built by Thomas H. Hood in 1892. If these walls could talk, they would tell tales of interesting owners and their families, and the evolution of the small western town of Saratoga, Wyoming.
The original history of Saratoga's Hood House was written by Gay Day Alcorn. We have copies of her book in our lending library. The following is a brief summary of Hood House owners from Mrs. Alcorn's book.
Thomas Hood, a carpenter by trade, was the original owner of the Hood House. Hood. He arrived in Laramie, Wyoming in 1888, from Wisconsin, in search of fame and fortune. He soon gained a solid reputation and it wasn't long before he was sought out to build the Episcopalian Church and rectory in Saratoga.
Mr. Hood moved his wife and new family to Saratoga in 1890. With the discovery of gold in the Snowy Range, commerce had come to the area, along with a need for homes and buildings. Hood and his partner, Nelson Scott, built 33 new buildings on the west side of the North Platte River. In addition to homes and buildings in Saratoga, Mr. Hood built a variety of other needs including sailboats, post office boxes, snowshoes, and wagons.
In 1892, he built a home for his family for $2,500 that featured 5-bedrooms, a Japanese roof, 2 porches, ornamental gables, and a large bay window. A windmill was constructed and used to pump water into a large tank in the attic to give the house running water. The Hood family occupied this remarkable house for less than a year, however, due to the ending of the gold boom. They then relocated to Chicago where Thomas Hood went on to become a dentist.
Dr. Burrell, a physician from Laramie, and his wife Clara Jane purchased the Hood House for $1,000 in 1894. The Burrells were involved in Saratoga and entertained at dinner parties in several homes. Dr. Burrell was appointed the County Physician for the southern part of Carbon County. However, due to a skirmish with the local newspaper publisher, his reputation suffered and the Burrells move back to Laramie. Trouble followed Dr. Burrell and in an effort to leave his troubles behind, he went hunting in South Africa. There he was captured by cannibals and eaten.
DR. ADAM GUTHRIE
ANDREW J. AND FRIEDA
Mr. Doggett was an astute businessman, an excellent fisherman and co-owner of the Doggett Brothers--a store that sold groceries and dry goods. He and his wife, Freida Wolf, occupied into the Hood House from September of 1895 through 1898. Freida, the daughter of the owners of the Wolf Hotel, was the first woman in Saratoga to own a bicycle. In 1897, Mr. Doggett was elected to the Wyoming State Legislature where he sponsored bills to protect the state's game and fish.
Dr. Burger was a dentist who wanted to bring his family West and invest in the Copper Boom. After finding the Hood House suitable, he purchased it for $2,000. Dr. Burger lived and practiced in Saratoga for two years before moving his family to Encampment. Active in mining investments, Dr. Burger was a representative of the the Upper Platte Mining District. The Burgers eventually moved to Denver in 1902.
ANDREW J. AND FRIEDA
Since the Doggetts had not left the Platte Valley, they re-purchased and moved back into the Hood House in 1900. They remained active in the community and became interested in community projects and civil welfare. A. J. Doggett was elected to serve a one-year term as Saratoga's first mayor in 1900. In August 1901, the Doggetts moved to Denver and founded a men's clothing store.
Mr. Ashley and his wife, Alberrini purchased the Hood House in 1902 as a retirement home. Mr. Ashley, a Civil War soldier, originally came to Carbon County to work for the Union Pacific Railway in 1879. For the next 23 years, he worked as a stationary engineer at Fort Fred Steele. Then in 1902, he partnered with his son Will, to run a drug store/soda fountain/ice cream parlor in Saratoga. Hard times fell on the area and the business struggled. To make ends meet, the Ashleys rented their home. Mr. Ashley died in 1912, leaving Mrs. Ashley to sell the Hood House.
EDWARD G. AND ALBERRINI
WALTER AND THERESA
Walter was the oldest son of Saratoga's leading merchants, the Pilon Mercantile Company. Walter, his wife Theresa and their children lived in the Hood House for five years. The family business continued to expand during those years. In 1914, Walter, his brother Paul and his father became agents for the Mawell '25' cars. People in the Platte Valley lined up to order them. Walter and Theresa were very involved in the community until them moved from Saratoga in 1917.
The Middlewoods purchased the Hood House as a wedding gift to their daughter, Florence, and her husband, Paul Pilon. The Middlewoods were native Canadians and came to Saratoga as pioneer sheep ranchers. Having purchased much of their ranching equipment from Pilon Mercantile, the two families became friends. At the time the couple married, Paul was part-owner of the Jensen Opera House. With a child on the way, Paul bought his brother's interest in the Pilon Mercantile Company. Things were going well, it would seem. However, after several months, Paul began seeing the newly hired and very attractive bookkeeper at the store. The marriage ended in divorce after four years and Florence sold the Hood House in 1923.
ROBERT AND MARY
WILLIAM E. AND ELLEN
Mr. Tilton and his wife, Ellen, purchased and moved into the Hood House in 1923. William arrived to the Platte Valley in 1883. He settled on the banks of Brush Creek, where he operated a cattle ranch for over 40 years. He was active in the area, serving as Justice of the Peace, president of the Carbon County Fair Association, secretary of the Platte Valley Stock Growers Association and also two terms of the Wyoming State Legislature. In 1915, William purchased the hardware business in Saratoga for his son, Roy. Tilton & Son acquired two car dealerships as well. Ellen Tilton became a leader in the community and organized both chapters of the Eastern Star in Saratoga and Encampment. She continued to live in the Hood House after her husband's death in 1931 until she sold it in 1934.
George and his wife, Clara Wilcox Fryer purchased the Hood House in 1934, where they lived and celebrated many happy family gatherings for nearly 39 years. George, a Valley native, was the son the highly respected ranch manager of the Jack Creek Land and Cattle Company. Clara came to the area to teach school on Cow Creek. Many years after the death of Clara's first husband, Lee, she married George. They owned the Fryer Sinclair Service Station from 1935 until the 1950s. During World War II, George and Clara's son, Keith Wilcox, were both in service, leaving Clara to keep the house and run the business. Following Clara's death In 1973, her son Keith and his wife Nancy moved into the Hood House with George.
GEORGE AND CLARA
KEITH AND NANCY
Keith and Nancy Wilcox moved into the Hood House in 1974. Keith, a practicing lawyer, served as county attorney, probate, county and juvenile judge. He was, like his step-father, George Fryer, active in Masonic circles and the American Legion. Nancy became a busy homemaker after many years as an elementary school teacher. Following the deaths of both Keith and George in 1980, Nancy sold the Hood House in 1981.
Unlike the Fryer-Wilcox family who owned the Hood House for forty-seven years, the Wilsons only lived in the house a short time.
HARRY AND BETTY
Deborah, a local rancher, purchased the Hood House in December 1985. After extensive repair and restoration, she reopened the Hood House as a Bed and Breakfast Inn on August 26, 1986.
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