The Oceanic Hotel, opened in 1876 on Star Island and is one of the last original Victorian Era Grand Hotels in New England. This week in Concord the Alliance announced the Seven To Save listings. Maggie Stier, who heads the program for the Alliance says, “The Oceanic Hotel is an extraordinary example of the Grand Hotel architecture and craftsmanship. It’s an important part of our history and deserving of attention and preservation strategies to protect the property for future generations.”
Criteria for Seven to Save include the property’s historical or architectural significance, severity of the current threat, and the extent to which Seven to Save listing would help in preserving or protecting the property. For ten years the program has helped move properties from threatened status to saved.
Star Island CEO Joe Watts says, “We are thrilled The NH Preservation Alliance recognizes that the Oceanic Hotel is a New Hampshire treasure worth saving. The Oceanic Hotel is more than a symbol of a bygone era. It’s a working hotel where visitors can truly experience what life was like in the 1800s. The Oceanic is an important part of our New Hampshire and New England roots, and a living testament to our hardy collective spirit. This designation will help us raise awareness and funds so we can continue to preserve the Oceanic for future generations.”
The Oceanic Hotel opened in 1876 on Star Island, the second largest of the nine Isles of Shoals located seven miles off the New Hampshire coast and one of the most beautiful and rugged spots in NH. The Isles of Shoals was the first summer resort north of Boston and attracted thousands of visitors from NYC and Boston looking for a coastal retreat during the late 1800s. The Oceanic paved the way for New Hampshire’s national reputation as a scenic tourist destination. Most of the other grand hotels were destroyed by fire or torn down.
The Oceanic Hotel has operated continuously, and has been owned and run by the Star Island Corporation since 1915. Star Island is a nonprofit organization that cares for the land and buildings on the 43 acre island and provides an all-inclusive summer destination for families and individuals who wish to “vacation with a purpose.” Boaters and day visitors are also welcome to explore the island’s rich history and tour Star Island’s innovative environmental initiatives. Approximately 16,000 visitors and guests travel to Star Island each year.
The iconic hotel contains a Victorian period lobby, dining room, parlor, writing room, gift shop, and three floors of simple rooms for guests and staff. There have been many improvements to the facilities – bathrooms, kitchen and showers – but the woodwork and original classic details in the hotel remain unchanged.
The Oceanic has withstood the harsh conditions of the Atlantic for 139 years, but maintaining the structure has been challenging because of this exposure to the elements as well as early construction techniques and materials. Star Island has received grants and donations to fund construction and maintenance projects including a new roof, a new egress, and new siding. The Oceanic complex (which includes two other historic rooming houses attached to the Oceanic Hotel) remains in serious need of wind bracing, sheathing, rot removal, framing repairs, window replacement, and paint. Says Watts, “Being included on the Seven To Save list will enable Star Island to tap into the Alliance’s network of funders, and increase awareness about the Oceanic and the challenges of caring for this historic landmark.”