Well, this is quite something.
Alex Jay, a long-time friend of Shady Characters, wrote in after last week’s trip to Ampersand Mountain with the results of a little historical detective work. It turns out that not only do the Adirondacks boast an Ampersand Mountain and an Ampersand Creek, once upon a time the discerning holidaymaker seeking “music, tennis court[s], base ball field, boating, riding etc.” could have done a lot worse than check in to Hotel Ampersand, nestled beneath the mountain of the same name.
Alex came across Seneca Ray Stoddard’s Adirondacks Illustrated guidebook,1 the twenty-third edition of which was published in 1893 (and from which these illustrations are taken) while researching the graphic design of the ampersand through the years.* Stoddard was a renowned photographer and travel writer with a fondness for the Adirondacks in particular, who publicised his photographs and books with public lectures describing his trips to all corners of the globe.2 (I am put in mind of those bands who use live gigs to sell other merchandise such as T-shirts and CDs.)
Stoddard was evidently quite taken by Hotel Ampersand. He described it as “roomy, rambling and artistic — full of unsuspected corners and pleasant surprises”; he draws attention to the elevator that “makes all floors almost equally desirable”; and notes approvingly that the hotel “is heated throughout with steam and lighted with gas.” Separately, and rather surprisingly, it transpires that the New York Public Library possesses a menu from the hotel’s spacious dining room, dated to 1891, and from which one might order a cosmopolitan meal of Consommé Royale, Beef Braisé à la Bourgeoise, and Almond Blanc Mange.3 Discounting its rural situation, the Adirondacks’ Hotel Ampersand was — well, it was The Ampersand Hotel of its day.
So: are there any other punctuation-related hotels or eateries out there? Let us know in the comments! Finally, many thanks to Alex Jay for taking the time to send over this material — I hope that you all enjoyed this trip down punctuational memory lane as much as I did.