EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

December 8, 2011

Balsams Grand Resort sold

CONCORD (AP) — After two failed deals this year, the stately resort where New Hampshire's the first-in-the-nation presidential primary ballots have been cast for 50 years has been sold to two businessmen for $2.3 million.

The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch, a remote, Victorian- and Alpine-style complex about 20 miles from Canada, has been sold to Dan Hebert and Dan Dagesse. The sale was announced yesterday by the Tillotson Corporation, which owned the nearly 150-year-old resort and surrounding property.

Dagesse, who owned auto dealerships in the Northeast, including some in northern New Hampshire, and Hebert, who owns a construction business in Colebrook, have been interested in preserving the hotel for more than a year.

"We care deeply about restoring the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel to its full glory as a world-class destination resort and seeing it thrive for decades to come," Hebert said. "We want to provide a stable operation that we can all be proud of."

The hotel is known for its wood-paneled Ballot Room, where residents of the tiny community are the first to cast their votes for president at midnight on New Hampshire's primary day and on the nation's Election Day.

The owners say the Balsams will be closed for renovations for up to 18 months, but the Ballot Room, filled with a time capsule of political articles and cartoons from presidential campaigns and a special glass-encased ballot box, will be open for the Jan. 10 presidential primary.

"We will make that happen," said Scott Tranchemontagne, a spokesman for the buyers.

The Tillotson family, whose patriarch ran a rubber factory and is credited with inventing the latex balloon, bought the resort in 1954. Before he died in 2001 at age 102, Neil Tillotson specified that the resort and other assets be sold or given away and the proceeds given to charities. But the hotel has been operating at a loss for years, and the money has been coming out of the assets of a family trust.

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