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Lake Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk Mountain House 2011 View of Mohonk Guest Rooms from One Hiking Trail FRD 3205.jpg
Mohonk Mountain House
Location New Paltz, New York
Built 1869–1910
Architect Napoleon Le Brun
James E. Ware
NRHP reference No. 73001280
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP July 16, 1973
Designated NHL June 24, 1986

The Mohonk Mountain House, also known as Lake Mohonk Mountain House, is an American resort hotel located on the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, New York. Its location in the town of New Paltz, New York is just beyond the southern border of the Catskill Mountains, west of the Hudson River.

History

The National Historic Landmark Program's "Statement of Significance", as of the site's historic landmark designation in 1986, stated:

Begun in the 1870s as a small resort for family and friends by the Smiley brothers, it became so popular that it was enlarged many times. Because of the Smileys' love of the outdoor life, the area around the hotel was treated as an integral part of the attractions of the resort. Much of this area was planned as an experiment in conservation of the natural environment, and as an educational tool for the study of botany, geology, and outdoor living.

The resort is located on the shore of Lake Mohonk, which is half a mile (800 m) long and 60 feet (18 m) deep. The main structure was built by Quaker twin brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley between 1869 and 1910.

From 1883 to 1916, annual conferences took place at Mohonk Mountain House, sponsored by Albert Smiley, to improve the living standards of Native American Indian populations. These meetings brought together government representatives of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the House and Senate committees on Indian Affairs, as well as educators, philanthropists, and Indian leaders to discuss the formulation of policy. The Haverford College library holds 22,000 records from the 34 conference reports for researchers and students of American history.

The hotel hosted the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration between 1895 and 1916, which was instrumental in creating the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. Those conference papers were donated by the Smiley Family to Swarthmore College for research.

The house was given a United Nations Environment Programme Award in 1994 in honor of "125 years of stewardship". According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, "Through its buildings and roads, its land, and its spirit, Mohonk exemplifies America's history and culture. Mohonk has since managed to maintain its 19th century character into the 21st century."

The resort was sued in 2014 by 200 guests who had become ill in a norovirus outbreak after staying there. They claimed that the owners had been aware of the gastrointestinal illness at the resort prior to the guests' arrival. The resort settled the claims for $875,000 two years later.

Description

Mohonk Mountain House has 259 guest rooms, including 28 tower rooms, an indoor pool and spa, and an outdoor ice-skating rink for winter use. The property consists of 1,325 acres (536 ha), and much of it is landscaped with meadows and gardens. It adjoins the Mohonk Preserve, which is crisscrossed by 85 miles (140 km) of hiking trails and carriage roads. The Smileys conveyed the majority of their property to the preserve, in 1963. At the time the preserve was called the Mohonk Trust.

Notable guests

Mohonk Mountain House has hosted many famous visitors including industrialist John D. Rockefeller, financier Charles A. Schmutz, naturalist John Burroughs, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, prolific author Isaac Asimov, and American presidents Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester A. Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Bill Clinton. Guests have also included actor Alan Alda, former First Lady Julia Grant, author Thomas Mann, and religious leaders such as Theologian Lyman Abbott, Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, Reverend Ralph W. Sockman, Reverend Francis Edward Clark. `Abdu'l-Bahá, the eldest son of Baháʼí Faith founder Bahá'u'lláh, stayed there in 1912 during the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration as part of his journeys to the West. William James Roe II described the resort as a "palace of peace" after his stay there, writing an article of the same name, published in Harper's Young People. Dee Snider of Twisted Sister fame often enjoys vacations at Mohonk with his family.

Awards

MohonkHouse
Seen from Skytop observation tower

Condé Nast Traveler has given it nine awards since 2008, including "Number One Resort Spa in the United States" (2013). Travel + Leisure has given the resort seven awards since 2009, including "Number Two Hotel Spa in the United States" (2013) and "Number Six Hotel Spa in the World" (2013).

Fodor's listed it as one of "10 Best Spa Trips" for 2012, and in 2010 named it as one of 10 Best Hotels for Kids and Families. In 2011, Every Day with Rachael Ray listed Mohonk as one of "Our Eight Favorite Resorts".

Mohonk Mountain House is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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