A golf course, a lake, a ski slope, tennis courts, indoor and outdoor Olympic swimming pools, a post office and even a small airfield: from the 1920s to the middle of the 20th century, the Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel, located in Liberty, in the Catskills Mountains, New York, was a legendary resort that was particularly popular with the Jewish community.
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The mythical Grossinger hotel devastated by the flames
Closed since 1986, the hotel went up in smoke when a fire broke out on the premises on Tuesday August 16, without the origin of the fire being known to date. After years of decay, one of the main buildings on the property has been demolished, Liberty Department firefighters reported Aug. 17.
According to this source, the column of smoke from the fire was visible for several kilometers. In total, the fire consumed a three-and-a-half-storey wooden building located at the bottom of the old complex, concealed by concrete blocks, which also hampered the access of emergency vehicles to the site, according to Liberty Fire Department Chief.
Several hours were needed to put out the fire, and an excavator even had to be dispatched to the scene to knock down the structure, which was too fragile, once the fire was extinguished. An investigation into the origin of this fire is currently underway, said Chief Mark Johnstone.
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According to an obituary dated 1964 of Harry Grossinger, the director of the complex in its heyday – and who also gave it its name – the establishment was composed in the 1960s of 36 buildings spread over just under 500 hectares .
Up to 1,400 people could simultaneously frequent the facility, which accommodated many Jews at a time when the latter were not welcome at many resorts, golf clubs and other Ivy League universities, reports the New York Times.
The Grossinger Hotel, a celebrity haunt in its heyday
Celebrities who frequented the venue included actress Elizabeth Taylor, who held her wedding celebration to her fourth husband at the hotel in 1959, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, who vacationed there, as did Francis Spellman , who for three decades was the powerful Catholic archbishop of New York.
In addition, nine world champion boxers trained in the hotel’s state-of-the-art sports facilities, including Rocky Marciano.
Among the hotel guests was also Eleanor Bergstein, the screenwriter of “Dirty Dancing”. In several interviews, she often mentioned the impact her vacation in Grossinger had on the film as a child.
If the successful musical was not shot in Grossinger, but in the Mountain Lake Lodge, in Virginia, it was inspired by scenes of life observed in Liberty to build the intrigue around Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze.
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Decline and decadence of the Grossinger Hotel
Despite this crazy success, the hotel was closed in the 1980s, and the successive owners never managed to revive the business. Abandoned, the site had become a playground for lovers of urbex – or urban exploration.
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By 2018, the rest of the abandoned infrastructure had been demolished. Before the fire, only one building still standing bore witness to the past prestige of Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel.
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