The Rise and Fall of Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel in Liberty, NY

The Founding of Grossinger’s Catskill Resort

Nestled within the tranquil cradle of the Catskill Mountains, the Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel was a beacon of hospitality and warmth in the early 20th century.

Born from the relentless spirit of Asher Selig Grossinger and his wife, Malka Grumet Grossinger, the resort’s humble beginnings can be traced back to their immigration journey from the village of Baligrod, Poland, to the bustling energy of the United States in the 1890s.

In pursuit of a healthier life for Asher, the Grossingers embarked on a new adventure in the 1900s, trading the city’s noise for the serene beauty of Sullivan County in the Catskill Mountains.

Ferndale became their haven, where Asher rented rooms to city-weary visitors, Malka commanded the kosher kitchen, and their charismatic daughter, Jennie Grossinger, delighted guests with her warm hospitality.

Their humble home, Longbrook House, was soon outgrown, and the Grossingers set their sights on larger horizons. In 1919, they procured a grander house within a sprawling 100-acre expanse, christening the Grossinger’s Terrace Hill House.

Thus began the story of the Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel, a tale woven with innovation, expansion, and an unwavering dedication to creating unforgettable experiences.

Growth and Expansion

Under Jennie Grossinger’s expert stewardship, the resort flourished and expanded into a sprawling hospitality empire.

The resort was a symphony of over 35 architectural marvels, each pulsating with life and the echoes of laughter.

The main building, a testament to grandeur and luxury, housed a spacious dining room that could serve a staggering 1,300 guests at a time.

Hidden beneath this dining spectacle lay the vast and inviting Terrace Room nightclub, where evenings were painted with music, dance, and joy.

Every corner of Grossinger’s told a story. From the airstrip that welcomed far-flung guests to the post office that bridged distances, the resort was a self-contained universe of joy and relaxation.

It was a cherished training ground for the legendary boxer Rocky Marciano, and its rooms and halls whispered tales of the many famous personalities who had graced the resort.

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The resort wasn’t just about scale and a testament to architectural evolution.

From its Victorian roots, it grew through Mission-style improvements, adopted Tudor-styled expansions, and finally embraced the Modernist aesthetics of the 1950s and 1960s.

The competition with nearby resorts spurred this growth, creating the iconic Terrace Room Club and the Pink Elephant bar.

Innovations and Achievements

Grossinger’s wasn’t just a resort but an epicenter of innovation.

It etched its name in the annals of skiing history in 1952 as the first resort in the world to use artificial snow, a testament to its commitment to providing a flawless experience for its guests.

Among other noteworthy episodes, the Grossinger family once offered a whopping million dollars to rename the local New York, Ontario, and Western Railway train station “Grossingers.”

Although the proposal was rebuffed, it highlights the Grossingers’ dedication to their namesake resort and their relentless pursuit of a cohesive guest experience.

Decline and Closure

Every story has its peaks and valleys; Grossinger’s was no exception. The resort started to lose its allure following Jennie Grossinger’s death in 1972.

The once-thriving paradise found it increasingly difficult to attract younger guests, and the magic slowly faded.

By the 1980s, the likes of Grossinger’s and Concord faced a struggle for survival.

In its dying years, Grossinger’s resorted to promotional events to rekindle its past glory.

A memorable episode was the Woodstock weekend held in August 1984, marking the 15th anniversary of the iconic festival.

It featured a tie-dyeing workshop, a musical performance by David-Clayton Thomas, and even a midnight “Woodstock” documentary showing. Despite these valiant efforts, the resort’s days were numbered.

In 1986, the Grossinger descendants sold the property to Servico. The central hotel and resort areas were shuttered the same year, leaving only the golf course operational until 2017.

Various attempts to reopen the hotel failed due to the massive costs associated. The once lively resort, now a silent specter of its past, saw almost all its buildings demolished in October 2018.

A New Dawn

Despite its tragic end, Grossinger’s story is not one of defeat but of resilience.

A fire in 2022 might have claimed a few remaining structures, but the Grossinger’s spirit remains undimmed.

In February 2019, a news report indicated that Sullivan Resorts LLC, a subsidiary of owner Louis Cappelli’s Valhalla-based Cappelli Enterprises, intended to usher in a new era for Grossinger’s.

Plans for a $50 million resort were announced, featuring a 250-room hotel, a convention center, private residences, and more.

The vision for the future of Grossinger’s seems a fitting tribute to its glorious past.

While uncertainties remain, the possibility of a revival kindles a spark of hope, a promise of a new dawn for the legendary Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel.

Final Reflections

The legacy of Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel is not confined to its buildings or its land.

It resides in the memories of those who once walked its halls, laughed in its dining rooms, and danced in its nightclubs.

It lives on in the tales of the incredible woman who transformed a simple boarding house into a world-renowned resort.

It endures in the spirit of innovation that led to the creation of the world’s first artificial snow.

The past of Grossinger’s is a testament to the power of dreams, the strength of perseverance, and the magic of hospitality.

And its future? That remains a book yet to be written. But if history is any indication, the following chapters of Grossinger’s story promise to be as intriguing and inspiring as its past.

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