The old Fort William Henry Hotel was built by a stock company in 1854, managed by a Mr. Thomas and opened in 1855 with Daniel Gale as manager. From that time until 1868 were very profitable years. The furnishings included massive carvings in the Victorian style, in the heavy dark wood of the period. Several years later, Dan Gale, sole owner, sold the hotel to T. Roessle & Sons of Albany for a reported $125,000.
In 1868, the hotel was described as towering from four to six stories high on the hill, commanding a grand view of the length of the lake. It was said that on a clear day a guest sitting on the front veranda could see as far as Ticonderoga, which of course was not true, but it made a nice story.
The posh hotel was elegantly furnished and eventually, by 1886 had "all modern improvements" which included electric lights and an elevator. The mansard roof, outlined against the blue sky, was 334 feet long and 16 massive Corinthian columns, 30 feet high, lined the front fa ade. Porches, were wrapped around the Victorian style "gingerbread" building which had a center dome flanked by two towers.