Ted Hilton's

Known Name(s)

Ted Hilton's


Rte 151 Moodus, CT

Establishment Type(s)


Physical Status


Detailed History

According to the East Haddam Historical Society, "In its heyday, during the 1940s and 1950s, Moodus was called the 'Catskills of Connecticut.' During the summer season, people visiting the dozens of Moodus-area resorts quadrupled East Haddam's population to about 20,000 people. The resorts, boarding houses and camps of Moodus primarily attracted people from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and other parts of Connecticut.

Many of the resorts evolved from farms in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when farm families took in first visiting relatives and friends, and then strangers. All were attracted to the beautiful countryside of the Moodus area. During its peak as a destination town, there were more than 30 resorts in Moodus. They generally specialized in one of three different groups of vacationers: Jewish, Christian and Hungarian." Four of them welcomed African American vacationers.

Ted Hilton's began as Elm Camp, established by Henry Engle in 1916 on the bank of the Salmon River. Hilton had begun a taxi service in 1925 and brought vacationers to the resort, which had grown to accommodate 200 people. Eventually, he bought out Engle and renamed it The Hide-a-Way (later Ted Hilton's Hide-a-Way, and finally just Ted Hilton's). New buildings went up between the 1930s and 1950s to accommodate growing numbers of guests (up to 500). Hilton died in 1957, and his wife, son, and longtime employee Dot Lindvall carried on. Lindvall and her husband, Frank Davis, purchased the resort in 1965, operating it until 1986, when it was bought by the Johnson family, who renamed it Sunrise Resort. It closed in 2008 when it was taken over by the state and became Machimoodus State Park.

A variety of images of promotional materials and photographs from the 1930s to the early 1960s are available on the East Haddam Stories website (easthaddamstories.org/hiltons), and it should be noted that not a single African American face can be seen. As with other organizations losing business with socio-economic changes, it seems likely that the Lindvalls and Johnsons were reaching out to new audiences to bolster flagging attendance.

Sources: "Catskills of Connecticut – Moodus resorts attracted thousands," East Haddam Stories, nd; https://www.easthaddamstories.org/ "Ted Hilton Built a Beautiful Salmon River Resort," East Haddam Stories, nd; www.easthaddamstories.org/hiltons

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