Today’s column is about the Washington Irving Lodge, a well-maintained artifact of our past, located between the villages of Tannersville and Hunter.
The Villa Meta, today the Washington Irving Bed & Breakfast, was built in the 1890s by Dr. Fredrick Lilienthal and his wife, Augusta. Their daughter, Meta, was about 12 years old when she spent her first summers in the mountains. Villa Meta was built midway between Hunter and Tannersville on the Hunter Turnpike. The Lilienthal family and their guests seemed to enjoy the best of what brought them to the small mountain community in the first place, a great love of nature and the “enduring beauty” of the mountains. Many different articles talked about the wonderful vacations spent in their summer home, entertaining family and friends, and enjoying long hikes in the mountains.
From a July 1910 Buffalo Commercial newspaper article:
Dr. Frederick Lilienthal, 1833-1910 — “Until a few years ago, one of the leading German physicians of the city, is dead. He died at his country estate in the Catskills, between Tannersville and Hunter N.Y. Aged 77 years, Dr. Lilienthal was one of the pioneers of the socialist party. He presided at the indignation meeting held Feb. 5, 1874, in Cooper Union to protest police brutality in Tompkins Square. Lilienthal came to the United States in 1861 and built up an extensive practice. When the civil war came, he was one of the leaders in the movement by which German Americans were firmly united in the Union’s cause.
Along with his wife, Augusta, they were German immigrants active in the socialist movement.” (from the biographical sketch of Meta Lilienthal Stern). Meta Stern’s father, Fredrick Lilienthal, was one of the founders of the successful 1878 New Yorker Volkszeitung (the longest-running German-language daily labor newspaper in the U.S.). He was also influential in the Free Thinkers’ society. Dr. Lilienthal was a member of the various organizations forming the country’s Socialist Party. He was a member of the International Socialist Union. Upon his death, the German Socialists of New York planned a public memorial service in his honor.
Augusta Lilienthal (Meta’s mother) was the editor of the woman’s section of the Sunday magazine of New Yorker Volkszeitung.
Meta, the paper said, was born into a progressive family and was privately tutored. She was a pioneering feminist and an early supporter of minorities’ rights and education. A writer for the socialist press named “Hebe,” she also published “From Fireside to Factory” in 1916.
Later, during the 1940s, their home was sold and converted to an Armenian Hotel named the Washington Irving, continuing today.
In 1986, it was sold to new owners Mirko and Stefania Jozic. They renovated and completely refurbished the guest rooms, lobby, dining room, library, and living room. The building has retained its original 1890s beauty throughout the construction but with today’s many amenities. Guests can enjoy the beauty of the Mountain Top’s four seasons on a year-round basis. Each day, a multiple course breakfast is served, and as a bonus, tea and cookies in the afternoon.
The rooms at the inn gently pay tribute to our local history with Catskill Mountain names:
The Candace Wheeler Room. Candace is credited with organizing Tannersville’s Onteora Park in 1887, having a home built a few years earlier. Mrs. Wheeler was an author, a businesswoman, and a supporter of teaching young women a trade.
The Mark Twain Room. An American writer, humorist, and publisher, Mark Twain stayed a couple of summers at Onteora Park.
The Asher Durand Room. Asher Durand was a popular artist and mentor to many younger artists in the Hudson River School of Art. His masterpiece in art was Kindred Spirits.
The Rip Van Winkle Room. Washington Irving’s success story of 1819. Rip is still very much alive on the Mountain Top.
The Bliss Carmen Room. Carmen was a Canadian poet who lived mainly in the United States and achieved international fame.
The Thomas Cole Room. Cole is known as the founder of the Hudson River School of Art. Cole loved nature in its most raw stages.
The Maude Adams–Peter Pan. Miss Adams had a home built in Onteora Park. Adams loved the mountains and the Village of Tannersville.
The Washington Irving Room–Washington Irving, an American short-story writer, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat in the early 19th century. Irving gave Rip Van Winkle to the Mountain Top.
The best of luck to Stefania, the long-time owner-operator of the hotel. Stefania has always been a strong supporter of the Mountain Top residents and businesses. She also preserved local history, serving many years on the Greene County Historical Society Board. The best to Stefania on the sale of her B & B and her retirement; it’s well deserved. The town is fortunate that she is remaining on the Mountain Top, hopefully we’ll all be seeing her frequently.
The best of luck to the new proprietors.