The Grand Hotel will be subject of Historical Society program

For immediate release

July 14, 2010

Contact: Diane Galusha, 845-586-4973

The Grand Hotel will be subject of Historical Society program

“The Grand Hotel, An Economic and Architectural History,” is the title of an illustrated talk by Annon Adams, who will speak Sunday, July 25 at 2 p.m. at Skene Memorial Library, Main St., Fleischmanns.

Sponsoring the program on the former Highmount landmark is the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown (HSM) in conjunction with Skene Library and the adjacent Greater Fleischmanns Museum of Memories which will be open from before and after the program.

Program admission is free for HSM members, $2 for non-members. There is no admission to the Museum, but donations are encouraged. Those who wish to bring photos and artifacts from the Grand Hotel are encouraged to do so!

The slide talk will cover the design, construction and opening of the Grand Hotel in 1881, and will include several images of its interior taken by photographer Bob Wyer many years later, in 1947.

The hotel, accommodating up to 500 people and more than 600 feet long, was a showplace high on Monka Hill. Following its construction it was owned by railroad and steamboat magnate Thomas Cornell to cater to a socially prominent clientele, and had its own stop on the Ulster & Delaware Railroad. It also boasted a telegraph and post office, restaurant, bowling alley, croquet grounds, swimming pool, tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course and the famous Diamond Spring, whose waters flowed into a marble fountain in the rotunda.

From its expansive piazza, guests got a magnificent view of Slide Mountain, highest in the Catskills. Straddling the Delaware and Ulster County line, the bar in the hotel was reputedly moved whenever local liquor laws changed. The Grand Hotel has been gone since the mid-1960s; many area residents claimed its furnishings and accessories at a 1964 auction of the contents.

Historian Annon Adams is working on a book about the hotel’s architect, John A. Wood. The Grand Hotel was an important project for Wood (1837 – 1910). It built his reputation as a hotel architect and led to a number of projects in the south, including the National Landmark Tampa Bay Hotel. He also designed several Kingston buildings, including the Ulster Savings Bank, the Stuyvesant House Hotel and the NY State Armory; and the Tremper House in Phoenicia.

Adams lives in Poughkeepsie. She has served on the Boards of the Bardavon Opera House, Dutchess County Historical Society and Theatre Historical Society of America. She has researched the history of the Bardavon and other theatre buildings, and recently published an article on the history of Bowdoin Park in Dutchess County.

For more information on the Fleischmanns program, and other events planned by HSM, contact Diane Galusha, 845-586-4973, cybercat@catskill.net. For information on Skene Library and the Museum of Memories, contact John Duda, royalzrus@aol.com.