The 1926 Hotel Kaaterskill

Contributed photoHotel Kaaterskill

THE HOTEL KAATERSKILL SITE Is To BE USED FOR A COUNTRY CLUB – (Two years after Hotel Kaaterskill burned). Catskill Recorder paper, 1926.

(A summary of Hotel Kaaterskill’s history)

A Philadelphia Attorney, George Harding, built the Hotel Kaaterskill in 1881-1882. The hotel was built on South Mountain within two miles of Charles Beach’s Catskill Mountain House. An argument over Beach’s hotel menu in 1880 created bitter feelings between the two men for the next forty years. It was forty-four years later when it quickly burned to the ground. Luckily, no one was hurt in the fire as the hotel had recently closed for the season. History tells us a few employees remained after the Labor Day closing and were in the kitchen making soap when the fire started. The fire was out of control when the emergency vehicles (such as they were one hundred years ago) arrived on site. All the fireman could do was limit the spread of the fire.

The Recorder said, “Mrs. Harry Tannenbaum, Proprietor of the Hotel Kaaterskill, plans to open a bungalow project next summer on Hotel Kaaterskill’s South Mountain site.” Mrs. Tannenbaum and her representatives were in Catskill, looking for the right man to put in charge.

The plan called for the erection of a miniature Hotel Kaaterskill on the same site the 1200-room hotel had been. It was to have a restaurant, dance hall, recreation room, card room, barbershop, manicure, etc., made available to all cottages close by and in the woods. Each cottage would have four rooms, with a bath for each bedroom. The plan was to accommodate 400 adult guests.

The article said construction of the golf course had already begun by 1925 with plans for an early opening. It was to be a $250,000 corporation. The new Kaaterskill would be landscaped, with each cottage having a private porch conveniently placed near the hotel. ($250,000 today is about $3,800,000.00). North and South Lake, then known as Kaaterskill Lake, would have canoeing and rowing.

Unfortunately, no further information on this project was located, nor was any information found on why Tannenbaum’s project never went forward.

The 1881 Hotel Kaaterskill was the last of the Big Three to be built and the first to go. It was fortunate that it burned in the same way it had been constructed, fast and furious. It didn’t stand in ruins.

Tidbits:

The rope used to install fire escapes in the bedrooms of Hotel Kaaterskill costs $2,000. ($58,000 today).

In 1902 both men died, remaining bitter rivals till the end. Charles Beach died in October at 92 years, and George Harding in November 1902, at 76 years.

In 1904, George Harding’s heirs removed the $1.00 toll charged to automobilists who used the roads in the Kaaterskill Park. This fee was said to be a hardship for many autoists. (Today, that fee would be $29.21).

Happy Memorial Day. To all Veterans, “Thank you for your service.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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