Orvis, Franklin H.
as found in
HISTORY OF
BENNINGTON COUNTY, VT


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES
OF SOME OF ITS PROMINENT MEN AND PIONEERS.

EDITED BY
LEWIS CASS ALDRICH
1889



ORVIS, FRANKLIN H. The people of the quiet little village of Manchester hardly thought what fame was in store for their town when, in 1852, Franklin H Orvis took the residence of his father and converted it into a summer resort; and Mr. Orvis himself was somewhat surprised at the results of the first few years in this undertaking, for while he confidently believed from the very first that the enterprise would be measurably successful, his most sanguine expectations were greatly surpassed in the growing success that crowned his efforts at the outset. In 1853 Mr. Orvis enlarged the capacity of the house by making his father's store-building a part of it, and the whole was then christened the Equinox House; a name well known to summer pleasure seekers throughout the country; not seekers after exciting sports, but rather those who prefer the quiet enjoyment of a most healthful locality, where rest and comfort are assured and nature's attractions are perfect.. But as the name and fame of the Equinox went abroad further enlargements were necessary, but we cannot enumerate them in detail. In 1858 the building on the east side of the street was arranged for the accommodation of guests and made a part of the house, and in 1883 Mr. Orvis purchased the Tadonic House, on the west side of the street, and that too forms a part of his extensive hotel. Other additions were made from time to time, and the Equinox property now occupies an ample frontage on both sides of the thoroughfare, and the surroundings and appointments of the whole enterprise are most inviting and delightful. Nature; too, has done much to make Manchester a desirable place of abode during the summer months; on the east the visitor obtains a magnificent view of the main chain of the Green Mountains; on the west is presented to the eye the towering heights of grand old Equinox; to north, and but a few miles distant, there stands Out clearly to the vision the lesser lights -- Mount AElous and Owl's Head, while on the south the beautiful valley of the Battenkill is an attraction no ;less charming and no less grand. But all this lovely panorama of nature has been in constant display for hundreds and hundreds of years, and still it remained for the hand and energy of man to develop the place and make it a profitable resort -- profitable to the person who should undertake it, and an honor to the town; others might have accomplished the same thing but Franklin H. Orvis did it, and by the doing the whole townspeople owe him a debt of gratitude. Some men would have devoted a lifetime to the work done by our subject in thirty five years, others might have done it as quickly as he; he claims no special credit for his success. He is a native Vermonter, proud of his State and town, and his success is that of his town also. Let us see the record of his.life. Franklin Henry Orvis was born on the 12th day of July, 1824, and of the seven children born to Levi Church and Elects Sophia (Purdy) Orvis he was the oldest. His father, Levi Church Orvis, and grandfather, Waitstill Orvis, were likewise natives of Vermont, though born "over east of the mountains." Electa Sophia Qrvis, the mother of our subject, was descended from Reuben Purdy, who will be remembered as the head of one of the oldest and ,most highly respected pioneer families of the town of Manchester. Levi Orvis came to Manchester about the year 1820, living for a time in the family of Ephraim Munson, and attending Hill's School. Shortly afterward he married Electa Sophia Purdy as above stated. He then engaged in the mercantile and marble business at Manchester, and continued in such up to the time of, his death in 1849. It was in his father's store that Franklin H. Orvis obtained his early business education, but he also attended the common schools of the town, the Burr seminary, and the Union Village Academy at Greenwich, N. Y., finishing at the latter in 1842, then being eighteen years of age, The next two years were passed in Wisconsin and Illinois in mercantile pursuits, but in 1844 he went to New York City as a clerk in the wholesale dry goods house of Marsh & Willis, which position he held for about two years. In 1846 Mr. Orvis, in association with Elijah M. Carrington, formerly of Poultney, under the firm name of Carrington & Orvis engaged in the business of wholesale dealing in dry .goods, with which enterprise he was connected until about the year i86o, then retiring to give his entire attention to the hotel business he had established some eight years before. But the Equinox at Manchester, as is very well known, has been conducted as a summer resort exclusively; therefore, with Mr. Orvis's retirement from the mercantile business in New York City, the winter months became to him a season of comparative inactivity, except during the brief period of. his connection with the Manchester Journal, which paper he took in 1871 and conducted with gratifying success for about one year, as will be seen by reference to the press chapter in an earlier part of this volume. About this same time, or in 1872, Mr. Orvis became proprietor of the St. James Hotel, at Jacksonville, Fla., which house he conducted as a winter resort one year. In 1875 he purchased the Putnam House, at Palatka, Fla.; enlarged it, made it a winter resort, and continued its management until it was destroyed by fire in November, 1884. In i88o Mr. Orvis took the Windsor at Jacksonville, conducting this and the Putnam at Palatka, until the latter was burned, since which the Windsor has occupied his time during the winter, and the Equinox at Manchester during the summer season. The successful conduct of a large hotel calls for as much of tact and good judgment as the management of any other extensive business enterprise; and it is an undeniable fact that the successful landlord must possess peculiar characteristics such as are not brought into active use in the transaction of ordinary business in other channels. These necessary traits and qualifications are, it seems, possessed by Mr. Orvis in an abundant degree; and while to him is due the credit of having built up these large enterprises and made for them a reputation second to none in the country, some acknowledgement should be here made to theeflicient assistance rendered by his sons, who are interested in the business of their father, and seem to have inherited much of his business thrift and energy Six sons were born of the marriage of Franklin H. Orvis with Sarah M., the daughter of Paul Whitin, of Whitinsville, Worcester county, Mass. This marriage occurred on the 17th day of November, in the year 1852. As will be seen from the foregoing brief résumé, the life of Franklin H. Orvis has been one of busy activity for nearly half a century, commencing with his eighteenth year and continuing to the present time. And while he has been thus engaged with his business affairs he has nevertheless found time to participate in the various events and measures looking to the improvement and welfart of his native town, for every cause that has tended to its advancement has found in him an earnest advocate, and every worthy charity has received from him substantial aid. In the fall of 1869 he was elected to the Vermont Senate from Bennington county as the candidate of the Republican party, of which party he has been an active member since 1861.


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