Everyone watched the movie “Dirty Dancing,” right? So, according to the plot, the girl and her parents are vacationing at the “Kellerman’s” hotel. In reality, such a hotel did not exist, but its prototype did. And the place where all this happened is known.
The Borscht Belt, a chain of resorts nestled in the mountains of Sullivan, Orange, and Ulster counties, once stood as a prime vacation spot for Eastern European immigrants, particularly Jews, from the 1920s to the ’70s. Despite its popularity, the region witnessed a decline in the 1980s, leading to the abandonment of numerous hotels, bungalows, tennis courts, and swimming pools. This article explores ten such abandoned resorts that still bear witness to the bygone era of the Borscht Belt.
Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel, renowned as the prototype for Kellerman’s in “Dirty Dancing,” closed its doors in 1986, a year before the iconic film’s release. Founded by the Grossinger family of Austrian immigrants, in 1914, the hotel gained fame for its hospitality and cuisine. Under the leadership of Jenny Grossinger, the hotel flourished, boasting luxurious amenities like a private runway, zip code, tennis courts, skating rinks, and artificial snow-covered ski slopes.
Lesser Lodge, a small resort on the fringes of the Borscht Belt near Livingston Manor, was established in 1923 by Joseph and Sarah Lesser. The lodge hosted various events, including bar mitzvahs for Jewish New Yorkers. Despite its rich history, Lesser Lodge now stands abandoned, a silent witness to a bygone era.
The Nevele Grand Hotel, a luxurious resort in Ellenville that opened in 1901, ceased operations in 2009. Founded by Charles Slutsky, the hotel was known for its impressive 18-hole golf course and provocative advertisements enticing visitors. While the Nevele Grande hosted fewer famous guests than Grossinger’s, it welcomed President Lyndon B. Johnson in the summer of 1966, who visited the Catskills to dedicate the Ellensville Hospital.
Founded by Fanny Schafer, a Russian immigrant who sought refuge in the Catskills following the destruction of her workplace in a garment factory fire in 1911, the hotel thrived under her guidance until the 1940s. Later, management transitioned to her son, Verb Konwiser, ultimately leading to the closure of the resort in the late 1980s.
Kutsher’s Hotel in Monticello, New York, had its origins in 1907 when Max and Louis Kutsher opened the Kutsher Brother’s Farmhouse. Expanding into a full-fledged hotel in the 1920s, the establishment underwent significant development in the 1950s, transforming into a luxurious resort boasting 400 rooms, a golf course, and picturesque views of Lake Kiamsha.
Unfortunately, these efforts proved insufficient, leading to the hotel’s sale and subsequent demolition in 2014.
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