Last October, I explored the abandoned site of The Pines resort in South Fallsburg, New York.
The Pines had 400 guest rooms, a golf course, tennis courts, a ski chalet, an ice rink, and two swimming pools. Its theater and nightclub hosted the usual Jewish Alps entertainers of the day such as Robert Goulet and Buddy Hackett. It closed in 1998 when a developer bought the property from the Ehrlich family. This article details the bankruptcy of that developer and possible future for the property.
The postcard above shows what The Pines looked like in the 1960s. As you might imagine, it doesn't look like this bright and tidy any more.
(This post covers the second day of a great weekend of Catskills exploration back in October. If you missed previous installments in my Abandoned Borscht Belt series, they are here: Part 1 and Part 2, and remember you can always click on the photos to enlarge them.)
We parked by the entrance to the resort's old ski chalet, then found a path leading through woods and tall grass to the resort.
And there she was.
It was a cool midcentury building with an angled roof line, but is now windowless on the side facing out to the golf course.
The two-level affair was comprised of locker rooms and a pro shop, with strewn-about skis and ski boots, the odd golf bag or pair of kleats, and a burst-open box of plastic leis.
The next building we came to was guest lodging, the two-story Regency. The hallway wasn't doing so well.
The carpeting and wallpaper scheme was a ruined symphony of 1970s avocado tones.
This stairwell was faring even worse than the hall. The ladder placement indicates some wacko ventured down below these broken stairs on purpose.
Yet, some of the guest rooms remain remarkably intact, even in the same building where you see that extensive damage.
Those extra pieces of carpeting you see on the floor were (rightfully) torn from the walls, where for some reason I do not understand, they were put up to hide this magnificent wallpaper. I don't think I will ever approve of any final decor updates that any of these resorts made before they closed.
There were two such ornamented areas in this room and two more in the adjoining room, presumably where the beds used to go. Pictured above, I am calling the front desk to see about where I might order the wallpaper.
Moving on deeper into the complex, one ground-floor trash-filled room we saw through a window had a hand-lettered sign hanging from the ceiling reading "Keep everything 2 ft from ceiling Board of Health" I'm pretty sure the Board of Health is a little more formal with their advisories, but it's probably wise to keep 2 ft away from everything anyway.
Here is the Savoy wing. You can see through the windows that the roof has collapsed in this section and the upper floors have fallen in down to the second floor.
This is the view through the air conditioner hole to a room on the first floor of the Savoy wing. That's a mirrored wall directly across.
Turning to the left, a notice for would-be parking rule violators.
And facing down toward the main entrance, you could take this driveway down to the road, passing under the Essex building dead ahead.
From this central location, there were many directions to go, so our group of seven split up, which is always a wise move when you are exploring a dangerous and scary unfamiliar place.
Leah, Kennedy and I entered the main building through the rear door, passing first through the trashed dining room.
This large open area had hosted a massive paintball fight, as indicated by the round splatters dotting the walls, windows, and furniture.
The dining room flowed into the upper lobby, which had grown a carpet of moss.
Is check-in causing too long of a pause between cocktails? Have yourself a highball, mister.
Down the windowed and paintball-splattered hallway, we came to where the indoor pool used to be.
Now it looks like this.
Next, a venture down to the lower lobby, where the guests checked in.
My camera memory filled up around here and I had to use Leah's, but I don't seem to have a good photo of the reception area. But yeah...not doing well.
The paint was curling off the walls. It almost looked like extreme heat burned it off, but it's probably just moisture damage.
Behind a counter, one whole wall of key cubbies still had nearly all the room keys in them.
Further back behind the reception area were some really dark, wet, and frightening offices containing filing cabinets, zombies, desks, ghouls, rolls of adding machine paper, various demons, some old stationery, and handy photocopied maps of the grounds (in case you've been wondering how I know the building names).
We crossed the underpass area where cars would've entered the complex to drop off the family before heading off to parking. A word of warning: there is now a hole in that central green patch where there was formerly a manhole cover.
Over on the other side of reception was Ascot Hall.
After a quick look at another guest wing, we reunited with the rest of the group by the outdoor pool. To get there, we had to traverse the remains of the Persian Room, the Wedgewood Room, the Viceroy Room, and the coffee shop.
The kidney-shaped pool with the charming little footbridge had quite a festive look back in the day.
But now it looks like this.
(Photo: Kennedy Candra)
Above: same view as postcard looking toward cabanas, and below: looking back toward the main building.
The pool is going pond, growing cattails and everything.
The pool cabanas are still standing , as is the conference center. The ice rink has been demolished, and the greenhouse is overgrown.
Behind the pool cabanas are some older-looking lodging buildings (I'm guessing staff quarters) named the Dorchester, the Sheraton, and two others, joined by a breezeway that once led all the way through the pool structure and into the main building. We didn't go more than a few steps in, very conscious of the light draining from the afternoon.
We finally had our flashlights after initially leaving them back in the car, so we went for a last swing through a pitch-dark hall in the lower lobby that had some shops, including the beauty shop, barber shop, and an arcade, lit only by a few flashlights.
The thick, wet, mildewy, moldy air made me want to turn back right away. I thought, "Why do I put myself in these situations?" No, really-- why was I traversing a rotting building, subjecting my lungs to this, while other people were spending their weekends doing normal things with their families?
I felt the first panicky flickers of claustrophobia. I wanted out, but not enough to go by myself in the dark. I was D-O-N-E for the day, and fortunately after a few minutes, so was the rest of the gang, although I still feel like there's lots more to see there.
We hightailed it to Liberty and threw down what I'm just going to declare the most authentic Mexican food in the Catskills (someone prove me wrong, I'd be happy to know of more places).
I love discovering these ruins, getting scared and laughing and feeling nostalgic for a lost time I didn't live through and people I didn't know. These places are part of the story of so many lives. Just as one example, for a couple named Sandy and Stanley, the Pines was a stopover when they returned from a trip to Expo 67. (That online tribute Stanley made about his wife and their shared life together is one of the more touching sites I've ever seen on the Internet.)
I very much plan for Leah and I to continue exploring in 2012. If anyone has connections, invitations, or location suggestions, or perhaps even a publisher would like this professional writer to write up something more substantive on these places, don't hesitate to comment or get in touch.