We recently discovered that the "Dupre" meeting room at Seven Springs has been renamed "Wintergreen" and that all of the history of the family that created Seven Springs is off the walls. In 1994 Abe wrote this story to honor "Grandma Dupre" and the family legacy. Yes, it's long but you don't build a resort in less than 200 words!
In Fond Memory of Helen Kress Dupre
... honoring the years of hard work and dedication she and her family have contributed to creating the Seven Springs we know, love and enjoy today.
Adolph Dupre emigrated from Bavaria, a landscaper and horticulturalist by profession. He was also a innovator. He discovered this land up on the mountain, and found it to be very similar to that in his homeland. In 1927, Adolph Dupre was raccoon hunting with some friends from Ligonier. A moonshiner, defending his still, took a shot that came uncomfortably close to his ear. The men hightailed it out of the forest! But Adolph just couldn't forget the magic and beauty of those woods. Dupre fell in love with the area. Dupre was a farmhand & groundskeeper for the Mellon family on their Ligonier estate.
Helen Kress cast her own magical spell on Adolph as they dated only three months before tying the knot! The same year they were married, he returned to the woodlands and purchased two and a half acres for thirteen dollars at a tax sale. In 1932 he bought his bride to land & built a small cabin, which today is restaurant HelenÕs. When he was surveying the property found seven springs that were used to draw water to feed the farms on the land – hence the name, Seven Springs.
Helen and Adolph made their living from forest management, producing maple syrup, building and maintaining the farm and eventually from renting the cottages they built from the land. . Finn Ronne, a prominent Antarctic explorer working for Westinghouse Research, knocked on their door on winter day in 1931. He told the Dupres that he had been to Harrisburg to research records and find out where the "snowiest" place was and that this was it. He wanted permission to ski. Adolph liked Finn so much that he built him a warming hut. Other skiers weren't so welcomed, though. You see, the barbed wire fence that enclosed the pasture that the ski slope dumped into stayed up all year round. The skiers had to jump it or try to ski under it, often times ripping their clothes and damaging the fence. He was forever mending it.
Helen Dupre decides the site would be ideal for a ski area. Snow enthusiasts glide down the slopes of "Seven Springs Farm" with wooden planks, bound with leather, as makeshift skis. They open their property as ski lodge. A resort began to take shape as skiers grew in leaps & bounds.
In 1935, Adolph invented the first mechanical rope tow, powered by a Packard Automobile engine, was installed for the skiers on Suicide Hill. They used the car wheels, without the tires, as pulleys to carry his tow. It provided smooth channels for the rope. Skiers used wooden plank skis & leather binding. They pioneered skiing in mountains of Seven Springs
Adolph knew that the business and professional people from Pittsburgh and Greensburg (even then) needed a place to escape. Helen had her hands full with the awesome responsibility of feeding and attending to the guests. The three kids began doing chores as soon as they were able to walk! The Dupres kept reinvesting their profits into more land. Adolph was a well-known man at the Somerset courthouse.
To accommodate crowds, Adolph built Tydol House. It was a combination club and dining hall complete with guest rooms. Over next 20 years, a total of 28 cottages with native stone, hand-hewn beans, slab siding and their own individual half-acre lakes were completed. Adolph built those himself. It evolved from farm to club then resort in 1937 with opening of main lodge.
Twenty-seven years of backbreaking work saw tremendous growth for the homesteaders. They now boasted a club house (the Tyrol house), a ski lodge, nighttime skiing, seven rope tows, six slopes, nine trails and two tennis courts. In 1948 Seven Springs Farm grows to 5,500 acres. All food at Seven Springs is grown and raised on the farm, under supervision of Helen Dupre. Streams are stocked with trout from the Dupres' hatchery. Adolph and Helen Dupre are featured in Redbook magazine.
Adolph passed away in 1955. Helen, Herman, Philip and Luitgarde pushed on with the dream.
The 60's came with a new indulgent outlook on life. Helen never understood the hippie generation. She said. "You've got to have a purpose - something to work for. We've never had time to stop & wonder if we're happy because there is always to much work to be done."
And work they did. The 60's saw the private club change to the world-famous resort. The first snowmaking system was installed. Herman Dupre, AdolphÕs son, invented the first chairlifts and introduced snowmaking equipment in 1960. He invented and patented the Millennium Snowmaking Gun that is used worldwide. Herman owns Snow Economics, Inc, a world-renowned snow making company. Seven Springs is the official testing grounds for new products. In 60Õs construction of the new lodge was completed and an additional 73 deluxe rooms and four executive suites had to be added.
Dining rooms were opened as well as ski shops. Seven Springs became a municipality, two lounges were opened, ski rentals were now available in the lodge and a convention hall with a seating capacity of 1.500 was added to the main lodge.
The next decade saw the opening of the 18-hole golf course, the construction of Lake Tahoe for an expanded snowmaking system and the completion of the ten-story high rise that added 313 rooms to the resort. Exhibit Hall, racquetball courts, a 3,000-foot airport runway and a new ski lodge were also constructed.
In the 80's, Kettler Forlines was invited to become the exclusive builder developer for Seven Springs, offering resort living in condominiums and townhouse communities in Swiss Mountain and the Villages. Major expansions for skiing and snowmaking occurred, including three triple chairlifts and one quad lift that increased lift capacity in over 20,400 skiers per hour, the addition of Giant Steps, Gunnar Slope and Turtleneck Trail (a skiable terrain which exceeded 500 acres), and the opening of the Learn-To-Ski area for beginners and the installation of the NASTAR race course.
The Dupres have grown from a family of five with humble beginnings to a family employing a staff of 1,400 in the winter and more than 800 year round that services one million customers annually. The 90's are here. Two years ago, Seven Springs celebrated its 60th anniversary. Now that Helen is gone, you may wonder what direction Seven Springs will take. Well, the visionaries are still here. The underlying belief that people want to get away from it all is still deeply imbedded in the Dupre's philosophy.
Seven Springs is currently working with professional consulting firms in the ski and resort industries to map out plans and improvements for the next five years. They're reviewing slope planning and development, traffic patterns, food, bar, and hotel services as well as other amenities that may be up and coming. As the builder/developer for Seven Springs, we have agreed that a goal of 40 new homes a year is in line with their game plan.
This year alone you will see improvements totaling in excess of three million dollars at the resort. The indoor swimming pool has a new look from ground up, the hotel lobby has been renovated and new carpeting will appear in many of the lounges, restaurants and meeting rooms. New interior signage has been added, a state-of-the-art bowling alley is up and running (AMF AccuScore automatic scoring machines that speaks ten languages!) and the golf course has a new Verticut mowing unit and a computerized irrigation system. Hair Expressions is expanding and providing additional services, "Calasis at the Springs" will offer facials, pedicures and waxing (look for special discounts for homeowners!) and a new fly fisherman's club (catch and release) is forming for 1995.
Family fun and adventures are prominent in Seven Springs' future. Activities for your family in the summer include bonfires with cookouts and hayrides, horseback riding, mountain biking, volleyball, racquetball, golfing, tennis, shuffleboard, bocci, Alpine slide, bowling, swimming and miniature golf.
For the children, Kid's Korner offers child care services seven days a week for kids that are of walking age of older. Then there is Kid's Kamp that features sporting events, nature studies, arts & crafts, hayrides, picnics, fishing and indoor and outdoor games for ages 5-12. Lunch and snacks are provided as well as half and full day sessions. Three and five day packages are also available
Festivals have become a real crowd pleaser over the last few years. Mark your calendars for the Wine & Food Festival, Autumnfest/Open Houses, Polkafest and the newest, the Laurel Arts Jazz Festival. It features three days of jazz from Brazilian to BeBop. Day, evening, and weekend passes are available.
Twelve years later the resort is sold to the Nutting Family ending the Dupre's 74 year dream. Family to family, growth and progress continue. June 19, 2006 Robert Nutting, current Chief Executive Officer of the family-operated Ogden Newspapers. Financial terms of the family-to-family transaction were not disclosed.
The Nutting family has pledged to continue the Dupre family's long-term commitment to the future growth and success of the resort.
The Nuttings have
been frequent visitors of Seven Springs for generations. Robert Nutting's
father, Ogden Nutting, would make the short trip from the family's home in
Wheeling, West Virginia with the family to Seven Springs during the winter ski
season. It was during these trips that Ogden Nutting passed along his love for
skiing, and his admiration for the Dupre family and their success in building
the resort over three generations.
"This is especially exciting for me. My father passed along his passion for skiing and the outdoors here at Seven Springs. I am thrilled to be able to pass that same experience and appreciation on to my three daughters," Robert Nutting said. "As a lifelong fisherman, a director of the West Virginia chapter of the Nature Conservancy and past chapter president and current member of Trout Unlimited, I am very passionate about the outdoors."
Ogden Newspapers' Topeka magazine affiliate, Ogden Publications, is currently the country's largest and most influential media company in the conscientious environmental lifestyle field. The company's publications include Mother Earth News, Utne, Natural Homes, Grit and American Life and Traditions. "We are very passionate about sharing the value of responsible living and will be good stewards of Seven Springs and its 5,500 acres of pristine land," Nutting emphasized.
In addition to his role at Seven Springs and Wheeling, West Virginia-based Ogden Newspapers, Nutting serves as Chairman of the Board for the Pittsburgh Pirates, another historic institution in the region.
"I am proud of my family's involvement with the Pirates and I am looking forward to continuing in my current role and being a part of the Pirates for years to come," Nutting said. "Seven Springs and the Pittsburgh Pirates have a great deal in common. Both are strong and important institutions in the region with long histories and bright futures. Both have also built a well deserved reputation for delivering excellent customer service and a fan experience that is unparalleled."
The Nutting family already has a significant presence in the region. The family publishes 21 daily newspapers and 20 phone books delivering to more than one million households within a four hour drive of the resort.
"My family is absolutely committed to this region for the long-term, as is shown by our commitment to Ogden Newspapers, our involvement with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and now the purchase of Seven Springs Mountain Resort," Nutting added.