The Mt. Philo Inn was built in 1896 by Frank Lewis who had crafted a small house nearby. The Lewis family owned about 400 acres, including all of Mt. Philo. Lewis was persuaded to build the inn by travelers who used Lake Champlain as a travel route and needed a place to stay. Guests would disembark at Thompson's Point, a couple miles away. In 1924 the Lewis and Humphrey's family donated Mt. Philo to the state of Vermont to create Vermont's first and most popular state park.
Until 1966, the Mt. Philo Inn was maintained as a well-known and much-loved vacation resort by generations of the Lewis/Wells family. The inn included a full-service restaurant and a staff of 25 that attended to the guests. Accommodations were eclectic: tents, cabins and inn rooms. The rapid spread of inexpensive chain motels in the 1960s reduced business at the inn, forcing the Lewis/Wells family to sell.