'Jew Pond' Earns Unwanted Scrutiny

New England Town Ponders Name With Curious History

What’s in a Name? Frank and Jill Weber have lived in Mont Vernon, N.H., for almost four decades. They want the official name of Jew Pond changed.
Ted Siefer
What’s in a Name? Frank and Jill Weber have lived in Mont Vernon, N.H., for almost four decades. They want the official name of Jew Pond changed.

By Ted Siefer

Published February 22, 2012, issue of March 02, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

“It’s part of our history. I think we should keep it,” Wilkins said, echoing the consensus of town’s selectmen.

If nothing else, the Jew Pond controversy has shed light on an intriguing local episode that probably would otherwise have been lost to history.

In 1927, brothers Nyman and Myer Kolodny, two young Jewish attorneys from Boston, partnered with a Jewish hotel operator in Maine to buy The Grand, a resort hotel perched on a bluff overlooking Mont Vernon and the surrounding hills. It was one of several resorts in the area that catered to city folks seeking to escape the summer heat.

Following the custom at many hotels of the era, The Grand barred Jews. “Hebrew patronage not desired,” it wrote in a brochure. David Brooks, who is a member of the Mont Vernon historical society as well as a reporter for the Nashua Telegraph newspaper, unearthed the hotel’s history.

When the Kolodnys bought the place, they may have hoped to attract a new Jewish clientele. It seems likely that locals would have looked askance at some of the changes at the resort. Not only did the new owners rename the hotel the Mont Vernon Country Club, they also dubbed a lowly reservoir on the property “Lake Serene.”

“They dredged up the pond,” said Wilkins, who was married to the grandson of the hotel’s original owner.

Whatever the Kolodnys’ intentions were, the venture did not last long. They sold the hotel back to its original owner in 1929, and a year later it burned down.

Once the place was gone, the locals apparently took license to rename the reservoir after its short-lived owners.

Nyman Kolodny’s daughter, Phyllis Brody, was born after her father owned the hotel, but she does recall him talking much about it.

“I think they had a lot fun there,” she recalled. “My father had a roadster, and he took my mother up.”

For his part, Brooks says a range of motives could be ascribed to the naming of the pond, from affection to anti-Semitism. But “Jew Pond” certainly reflects a deep-seated mistrust of outsiders.

It was about “a small New Hampshire town’s annoyance at people from the outside trying to change things,” he said.

Ted Siefer is a journalist in New Hampshire. He can be reached at feedback@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • For 22 years, Seeds of Peace has fostered dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian teens in an idyllic camp. But with Israel at war in Gaza, this summer was different. http://jd.fo/p57AB
  • J.J. Goldberg doesn't usually respond to his critics. But this time, he just had to make an exception.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.