Vacation Perfection at the Allen ‘A’ Resort
Started in 1933 by Allen H. Albee, the Allen ‘A’ Resort- whose grounds now host the New Hampshire Boat Museum- was in its heyday from the mid -1940s to the late 1960s. The facilities accommodated 350 guests per week and employed a staff of nearly 100 in a season that ran from May 15 to Columbus Day. Guests often arrived in Wolfeboro via bus or train, which ran several times a day from Boston.
Visitors enjoyed a wide range of activities, from shuffleboard and organized softball games to horseback riding. On rainy days, the theater- now the home of the New Hampshire Boat Museum- hosted movies, but it was in the evening that this venue could really shine.
Events included: professional vaudeville performances; musician Ted Sands, who also entertained at the Casino downtown; plays featuring actors from New York; and a staff show every Friday night.
With costumes brought in from New York, waitresses joined busboys and housekeepers in belting out show tunes or kicking out a chorus line.
While to some this building appears to be a simple Quonset hut, it was, in fact, a custom built structure, complete with a hardwood dance floor and state-of-the-art sound and motion picture equipment. The front was decorated by a painter from Boston with a scene that has recently been restored.
The beach at Lake Wentworth also provided a gathering spot for Allen ‘A’ guests. One of the high points of the week was the Tuesday noon steak fry at the beach. At the appointed time, guests would gather by the lake, where they could collect a long-handled cast iron skillet and a box containing their steak, accompanying fixings, and their utensils.
Servers would then move among the hungry horde, wielding coffee pots filled with cooking oil, and soon the aroma of sizzling meat permeated the summer air.
For this special event- as well as for the traditional Wednesday evening square dance and cookout in the grove near the theater- Western garb was the order of the day for both staffers and guests. Many Lake Wentworth shore-side residents will surely remember the sound of the calliope echoing out across the water from the Allen ‘A’ beach as resort guests enjoyed their steaks or hot dogs.
A high point of the summer was always Governor’s Day, when the public was invited to join guests in the day-long celebration. The audience enjoyed circus acts, entertainment in the bandstand, fireworks at the end of the day, and, of course, a visit from the governor.
If the Allen ‘A’ catered to is guests, the visitors were loyal in turn. The resort awarded medals to those who returned for 5, 10 and 20 years. One couple even collected a 25-year medal.
The New Hampshire Boat Museum, celebrating over ten years at this location, continues to lure visitors to the site of the former Allen ‘A’ Resort, keeping the memory alive.
Special thanks to the following who provided memorabilia and memories to help make this commemorative write up possible: Madelyn Albee, Lola Burns, Shaun and Ellen Berry, and Andrea Dudley and Rich Masse.