Soon Dr. Gehring was in the midst of town politics devoted to building a new hotel plus getting property tax relief. 

A year later, The Bethel Inn corporation was formed with the purpose of building and operating  a hotel and private club.   Gehring was president of the corporation.  Bingham of Cleveland  owned 100 shares of stock along with  two others: Charles Hubbard and Robert Winsor of Boston,  Horace Sears of Boston, 90 shares,  Gehring owned 65,  Upson also of Cleveland and attorney Ellery Park of Bethel owned 10 each.

The inn opened with much fanfare in July 1914.  Bingham and Upson as partners owned the inn. 

In January 1914, Eben Kilborn sold the lot and former school house of District 15 to  William Bingham.  In September 1914, Mary Rowe sold her home (formerly the home of Congressman David Hammons) to Bingham and Upson.

The house became a guest house annex for the new inn—called The Elms.  Next the partners purchased an old house and barn just below the inn on Mill Hill which had originally been the home of Dr. John Grover.  This house became The Willows guest house.  The partners also acquired a Songo Pond lot.  A log cabin was built on the lot  which became an inn  property  for boating and canoeing.  Along with this expansion, the partners bought land for a golf course.  This had been started when Eben Kilborn had sold 112 acres to Gehring in 1911. 

A Gehring photo album kept during the years between 1913 and 1917 tells a story of some of the social life of the Gehring circle including Bingham and Upson.  Both men took part in plays, skits and tableau performances at the Gehring house entertainment room and at the Upson Music Room (theater). 

In 1917 Bingham became a Gould Academy trustee.  Also Dr. Gehring became a trustee of the academy and later served as president of the board until his death in 1932.  Throughout this period Frank E. Hanscom was the academy’s principal.  As the pinch for school funding was severe, Hanscom became strongly allied with  Mrs. Gehring for help in raising money.  Quite likely Mrs. Gehring was the lever used to persuade Bingham to contribute to the school. 

In the 1920 Bethel census, William Bingham was living in a house on Broad Street that was separated from the Gehring house  by the residence of William Fuller.  Fuller would later sell his house (known then as the Wright Cottage) to Bingham.  In the Bingham house listing of the 1920 census, Bingham, age 40, unmarried, is listed as the Head of the house (Renter); Maria E. Pease, house keeper, age 66; Montague Ayres, butler, 42, and his wife, Adelaide Ayres, cook, age 37.  Bingham is listed as a renter.   At Dr. Gehring’s house the census list shows  Dr. and Mrs. Gehring, ages 62 and 65 respectively, a gardener and his wife who is a housekeeper and a 20 year old woman as a servant.

In 1920 Bingham made is first investment/contribution to the development of Gould Academy.  His funds allowed the school to buy the Martin house on the corner of Elm and High Streets and convert the house to a domestic arts building. 

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.  “Mr.  Bingham spent several winters in Santa Barbara in the early twenties and  became interest in the Museum.  His was the first large contribution when the museum “ was getting started. (Its founding date is 1916). 

Circa 1920– American College for Girls, Istanbul :  William Bingham II, a trustee of the college, contributed $100,000 for the establishment of a School of Medicine at the college in memory of his mother, Mary Payne Bingham.

1925—Gray Athletic Building—Bates CollegeThis indoor athletic building was made possible by Mr. William Bingham II of Bethel, who gave $150,000 for its erection.  He requested that it be named in honor of President Clifton Daggett Gray. The first of four units of a planned Physical Education plant, the cornerstone was laid on Dec. 14, 1925; the building was completed in 1927.

1927-28  Bingham Hall at Yale.  Sons and daughters of Charles W. Bingham donated funds for the building’s construction .

1931— Pratt Diagnostic Hospital: with the financial aid of William Bingham II, Dr. Joseph Pratt founded a diagnostic hospital in connection with the Boston Dispensary. 

1932—Bingham Programcharitable endowment was initially established by William Bingham II to encourage New England Medical Center (NEMC) physicians in Boston to bring modern medical knowledge and techniques to physicians practicing in rural, western Maine.

Bethel, Maine


The Age of Philanthropy

William Bingham II—Benefactor

Compiled as a chapter of

The Bethel Journals by

Donald G. Bennett

December 2008



From the Gehring family photo album—skit or one act play?   Standing on the left is William Upson and dressed as a farmer fisherman next to him, William Bingham. This group is at the Gehring house.

Caption under this photo in the Gehring album reads :  The Italian Dancers, Mr. Upson and Miss Schoenle at Mr. Upson’s Music Room May 25/17.

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William Fuller and his house on Broad Street.  Fuller, according to the photos in Gehring’s album, was a regular in the Gehring social circle, his wife had been a patient at the Gehring clinic.  Later Bingham who lived next to Fuller would buy this house.

William and Nina Upson’s home on Broad Street in Bethel, 1931.  Bingham and Upson had purchased the house in 1914 from Mary Rowe to be a Bethel Inn guest house called The Elms.  Wm Upson died in 1936 leaving Bingham as the inn’s sole proprietor.  A stable behind the house was turned into a theater and entertainment center for Gehring guests.