Location: South Fallsburg, NY
The photos below are are keyed into the directory above. Click on the directory, aerial photo and other smaller images for an expanded view.
The Pines is an abandoned Borscht Belt resort that began in the 1930s as a small mission style hotel called Moneka Lodge. The Borscht Belt, refers to a region of the Catskill Mountains that contained many Jewish resort hotels once popular with New York City Jews in the middle of the last century. Its original owners, Silverstein and Weiner, eventually sold the hotel to Harry Cohen and May Schweid in 1946 who renamed the establishment, Pines Hotel. Over the years and under various owners, the Pines grew into one of the largest hotels in the area. However, times changed and Borscht Belt hotels gradually fell out of fashion, leading to the closure of the Pines. Before closing, the resort had expanded to include 400 guest rooms, as well as nightlife, winter sports, and summer recreation facilities.
Entertainment and Recreation
Recreational options included tennis, skiing, golf, swimming, and other outdoor activities. For entertainment, there were bars, a lounge, ballroom, card room (poker room), and a theater/nightclub. The nightclub hosted acts like Robert Goulet and Buddy Hackett. From what I’m told by those who used to visit the Borscht Belt resorts, many Jewish performers got their start at places like the Pines.
The Pines’ greatest period of expansion was between the 1940s and 1960s. In 1949 a new recreation building was constructed. In 1953 another hotel building was added, increasing the room count by an additional 35 units. The outdoor pool, pictured above, was built in 1959 at a cost of $75,000. The New York Times described it as being shaped like a whale; however, others seem to think it looks like a heart. The bridge spanning the pool was included to link the cabanas on one side of the pool to the rooftop bar and “Bamboo Room” on the other side. According to the book Catskills Resorts Lost Architecture of Paradise, the hotel even saw such notable staff, as a young Gene Simmons of KISS who worked briefly as a lifeguard at the pool. Architect H.D. Phillips designed a new lobby, card room and indoor pool. They were modernist style structures built between 1959 and 1961. The new lobby was the main entrance where guests would enter through the lower level to check in before ascending the stairs to the second floor lobby that was connected to the indoor pool via the card room. In 1962 a 1,300-seat nightclub called the “Persian Room” was built along with the connected lounge “Wedgwood Room” and formal ballroom known as the “Viceroy Room”. In the mid-1960s convention rooms and additional guest room wings were added. These included the Savoy, Hampshire and Regency wings. Also added in the 60s were a nine-hole golf course and ice skating rink, as well as a ski chalet, and chair lift for skiing.
By the mid-1980s patronage of the Borscht Belt hotels was on the decline. In an effort to remain profitable the Pines Country Estates condos were developed on 40 acres of Pines’ land under the premise that owners would have access to the resort. In addition, the hotel resort hoped to capitalize on new legislation that would allow casino gambling in the Catskills. While the condos were built and still exist, the proposed gambling legislation didn’t pass, putting the final nail in the coffin. The Pines closed its doors in 1998.
After its closure, the Pines was purchased by a group of Hasidic Jews who intended to redevelop the hotel. However, the plans were in vain and the property remains abandoned. While I enjoyed shooting this place, it is pretty trashed. The Viceroy Room, Persian Room, Wedgewood Room, indoor pool, ice skating rink and café have been demolished. In addition, arsonists destroyed the Carleton and Ritz staff buildings. Scrappers have made off with anything of value, there is extensive water damage in many of the buildings and black mold abounds. It also looks like some of the buildings have been used for a paintball tournament. According to the blog AbandonedAbandoned.com potential plans for the property include the development of 300 homes and re-opening the ski chalet and golf course.
For more of my photos check out my Pines Resort Flickr album.
If you want to see an earlier iteration of the ongoing decay, I recommend checking out the photos of Colleen Kane (see link in sources below).
- Padluck, Ross Catskill Resorts, Lost Architecture of Paradise Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2013
- Kane, Colleen “Abandoned Borscht Belt 3″AbandonedBatonrouge
- “Abandoned Pines Resort Hotel of the Borscht Belt Decaying in Fallsburg” AbandonedAbandoned.com
Great post, Cory! Thanks for sharing historical information and facts that I was unaware of.
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Very interesting post! Thanks for sharring!
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Is this a place that can still be visited to shoot photos? I love abandoned places and would die for a chance to go get some pictures here!
Morgan, I’m not sure if the place is still accessible but I suspect that it is. If you email me, I’ll tell you how I accessed the site without being seen. tx2northbk at gmail
This hotel was originally owned by the Karp family. Specifically, MOrris and NEttie KArp (hence, MONEKA Lodge). It was started as a boarding house – like many of the Borscht Belt hotels – around 1905 and was sold by that family (my family) around 1940.
Nancy, thank you for adding some personal history to my post.