Manufacturer: Jackson China
User: Ted Hilton's – Moodus, Connecticut
Date of plate: 1930s – 1946
Notes: From East Haddam Stories: In the village of Moodus in East Haddam, Connecticut, "Henry Engle started Elm Camp in 1916, on three acres on the bank of the Salmon River. Engle built the Main Bungalow … installed electricity, telephone, and a water system.
"Elm Camp was primarily a private camp supported by a growing canoe and boat rental business. In 1924, the resort consisted of boating facilities, the Main Bungalow, a garage, one log cabin, a tennis court and several outhouses, all located on the riverfront lawn.
"In the early 1920s, University of Connecticut student Ted Hilton started a one-car taxi service, which grew to two vehicles. He had made numerous trips taking people to Moodus resorts, was entranced, and soon closed his two-car livery service to start working for Ingle.
"In the spring of 1925, with the 24-year-old Hilton spearheading, there was a burst of progress in building a clientele of summer guests. Over the next two years, two bungalows were constructed, and more sleeping and dining accommodations were provided. New facilities for outings of up to 200 persons were also added.
"In 1927, the Hilton [no relation to the Conrad Hilton hotels] family bought out Henry Engle. Ted retained the title of Treasurer and Secretary and Elsie (Mrs. Hilton) became President.
"The next 20 years brought much change. Elm Camp became The Hide-A-Way, then Ted Hilton's Hide-A-Way, and finally just Ted Hilton's. It was during these early Hilton years that a young teacher, Dorothy Lindvall, was hired as office manager.
"There was continuous construction from the 1930s through the 1950s as guest counts increased. The Hiltons bought adjacent land and developed the property from the riverfront to the highway. Cabins were built to house up to 500 overnight guests. The dining room was expanded. A horse barn was constructed, more tennis courts and handball courts were also added.
"Ted Hilton was a great promoter of the resort and became a notable member of the resort industry. His philosophy was simple: give vacationers plenty of fun, food, and frolic, a tradition carried on by his successors. Guest shows, canoe trips and outdoor feasts were highlights of the vacation week.
"In addition to providing vacation pastimes, Hilton had some guest rules. For example, alcohol was not sold on premises; bedtime was 11:00 PM; quiet hours were imposed; and the front gate was locked after midnight. Also, Hilton requested that guests not chop down the trees.
"Hilton died in 1957 after a three-year debilitating illness. After his death, Elsie and Ted, Jr. shared management responsibilities with longtime employee Dot Lindvall. Frank Davis, who had worked for the Hiltons throughout high school and college, returned to manage the kitchen.
"From 1957 to 1965, the first set of motel units was built, the BBQ pavilions were expanded, and construction of the Hilton's home was completed.
"In 1965, newlyweds Dot Lindvall and Frank Davis purchased the resort from the Hiltons. Joe Judge and Bob Johnson, who had worked at the resort during their high school and college years, signed on with the Davises as Food Service Manager and Office Manager, respectively.
"For the next 20 years, the resort continued to offer 'Rest, Romance, and Recreation' to thousands of loyal guests as it became more challenging for Moodus resorts to thrive in the age of cheap jet travel and recreational changes.
"In 1986, Dot & Frank retired, and the Johnson family bought the resort, continuing Hilton's traditions coupled with innovative new activities. The Johnson family renamed the resort Sunrise Resort, and over time instituted popular events such as Christmas in summer, Cajun and jazz music festivals. Sunrise also built its day business, hosting weddings, conventions, family reunions, company picnics, and graduation class trips.
"Despite the Johnson's efforts, the 2008 season was the last year of operation for the venerable resort. After 92 years as a quintessential Moodus resort, the Johnson family sold the property to the state which state demolished most of the buildings and the scenic 146-acre property was reconfigured as a state park and campgrounds."
The only evidence found of the term Winter Cruises is a screenshot (shown above) taken from "Ted Hilton's to Sunrise: A Personal Reflection/Documentary," based on 8mm films taken by the author during one week with his family at the resort in 1966 – up to 20 years after this plate was made. The "cruises" were probably only boat excursions on the Salmon River at the resort taken during winter months.
Tan body plate with both a thick and thin red line near the rim. There is also a matching line red line on the verge. At the top of the plate between the lines are the words "Ted Hilton's" in a red fancy script, and on the bottom rim, between the lines, are the words "Winter Cruises" in a matching script. In the center of the well is a drawing of the bow and side of a ship in matching red.
YouTube Video: Ted Hilton's to Sunrise: A Personal Reflection / Documentary, by Ron Hamill
Plate photos: Kathleen Perrin
Brochure photo: Larry Paul
Author: Ed Phillips