Built in 1901, the Inn at Buck Hill Falls was once the class of Poconos Mountain resorts. The thousand-acre retreat featured amenities such as an amphitheater, a 27-hole golf course, horseback riding, an indoor pool, swimming, and tennis. For decades the resort thrived, and would expand until eventually becoming a 400-room, 300,000 square-foot facility.

The end of the Buck Hill Inn began with a downturn in business from the late 1970s into the 1980s. In 1990, the owners closed it for good. Numerous attempts have tried, and failed, to restore the century-old resort. In the meantime Mother Nature, scrappers, and vandals have been slowly tearing down what remains of the Inn at Buck Hill.

cover photo courtesy Katherine Caprio

Buck-Hill-mapMap it!

*

Buck Hill Falls Company

samuel-griscomBuck Hill Falls is a private resort community in the Pocono Mountains, about one hundred miles north of Philadelphia, PA. The community is named for a nearby cascade, the beauty of which had caught the eye of Philadelphia Quaker Samuel Griscom by 1900. Griscom (pictured at right) was smitten with the 1,000 acres of Pocono woodlands he inherited, and thought it was suitable for a nature retreat.

However Griscom was advancing in years, and in the era before cars and highways, the trek from Philadelphia to the Poconos was difficult for older travelers. Griscom went about finding suitors for his development proposal.

[ Did you know: Samuel Griscom was the great-great nephew of Elizabeth Griscom, better known as Betsy Ross. ]

In 1900 Samuel Griscom engaged in negotiations with a New York-based developer, however the big city hotelier wanted to serve liquor on the developed property. Griscom, a devout Quaker and teetotaler, wanted a dry resort and elected to not proceed with the New York company.

Things changed in August of 1900 when Griscom was able to convince fellow Philadelphia Quakers Charles & Howard Jenkins to visit his property in the Poconos. It was an easy sell for Samuel; the acreage offered spectacular views and contained beautiful waterfalls.

Buck-Hill-Falls-Company-stock-certificateIn addition, the Pocono region was growing as a getaway destination for city dwellers. Other early hotels such as the Kittatinny Hotel, Water Gap House, and Delaware House, had already proved popular, collectively averaging 500,000 visitors annually.

Griscom and Jenkins negotiated terms and a deal was struck. On December 31st, 1900, the Buck Hill Falls Company (symbol: BUHF) was created and capitalized with $20,000. Charles F. Jenkins was named first president of the company, and would serve in the role until his death in 1951.

Buck-Hill-Inn-1906*

The Inn at Buck Hill Falls

Jenkins’ first major decision was to build the proposed inn on the shoulder of the mountain, where it could draw a breeze from three directions. The Buck Hill Falls Company hired Philadelphia architectural firm Bunting & Shrigley to design the hotel and general contractor Shiffer Brothers of Stroudsburg for construction. The inn’s landscaping was designed by Frederick Olmstead, the designer of New York’s Central Park.

The first iteration of the hotel was small – comprising just 20 rooms with no private baths – and took construction crews less than a year to finish.

On Saturday, June 22nd, 1901, the Buck Hill Inn opened its doors for the first time. It lacked heat, and lighting was provided by kerosene lamps, but the Quakers appreciated the resort’s simplicity.

Buck-Hill-Inn-sack-race-1909-1
Sack race at the Buck Hill Inn, circa 1909

As was popular in the Poconos at the time, the Buck Hill Inn site plan was designed with a central inn surrounded by cottages. To accommodate for this the Buck Hill Falls Company purchased additional unimproved property at two dollars per acre.

Infrastructure was underway; lots were surveyed, roads paved.

Buck-Hill-Inn-1909-2
Buck Hill Inn back porch, circa 1909

Investors had the option of purchasing building lots at prices starting from $100. Initial interest seemed quiet, however within two years seventeen cottages had been constructed.

Over time its popularity grew; by 1915 Buck Hill Falls had more than 125 cottages. Today there are nearly 300.

*

Activities

Buck-Hill-Inn-skiing-2Guests from the cities of New York and Philadelphia would flock to the Poconos for its beautiful nature and long list of outdoor activities. On the latter, Buck Hill Falls never failed to disappoint.

The year-round resort offered winter activities such as sledding, skiing, toboggans, and Christmas celebrations.

Sled dog derbies against other resorts such as Skytop and Pocono Manor featured Alaskan huskies pitted against each other in competition. This, of course, was when they weren’t serving as rescue dogs on humanitarian missions.

Buck-Hill-Falls-Toboggan-1943Summer season typically kicked off during the Memorial Day weekend. Skiing and sled dogs gave way to golf, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, and tennis.

Blue-ribbon trout streams offered fishing, and for those who preferred theater, either Buck Hill’s amphitheater or the nearby Pocono Playhouse usually offered entertainment. It was also common to see formal balls and dances at the Inn in Buck Hill Falls.

Buck-Hill-Inn-pool

The second floor of the Inn contained three large dining rooms directed by a world-renowned chef. Less formal was the Bluestone Restaurant, a popular breakfast or relaxed lunch eatery.

Buck-Hill-Inn-Bluestone-Restaurant-1960s
Buck Hill Inn Bluestone Restaurant circa 1960s

Above the main entrance is a large sun deck. On the East porch (pictured below), a dozen rocking chairs offered guests a place to sit and read the newspaper in the mornings.

Buck-Hill-Inn-east-porch-1920sThe indoor pool is tucked behind the east building, while the north-facing portico looks out over an amphitheater.

The Inn at Buck Hill Falls was indeed very popular during its heyday; Christmas reservations were booked over a year in advance.

 *

Buck Hill Inn Events & Expansion Timeline

  • Buck-Hill-golf-course-19071900: Samuel Griscom searches for developer suitor, finds Jenkins
  • 1901: The Inn at Buck Hill Falls opens.
  • 1907: A nine-hole golf course was added.
  • 1909: The first swimming pool was dedicated.
  • 1913: Six grass tennis courts opened, along with the ski area.
  • 1918: The Buck Hill Falls Company plants over 60,000 trees.
  • Buck-Hill-Inn-smoking-room1921: The “Anniversary Gates” are dedicated at the entrance to Buck Hill Falls to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Inn.
  • 1922: Donald Ross designs the Blue & White courses of what later becomes the 27-hole course and complex.
  • 1923: The four-story Pennsylvania stone hotel was added, in the Mission Revival Style, and again designed by Bunting and Shrigley.
  • Buck-Hill-Inn-East-Room-19231930: The East wing is completed and the resort began to take its final shape. By this time the hotel had 270 rooms and featured the north porch, a huge covered stone structure with exceptional views of the surrounding Pocono Mountains.
  • 1933: Lawn bowling established. Tournaments attracted celebrities such as Walt Disney. Buck Hill Falls would also later host the 1963, 1998, & 2001 U.S. Championships for lawn bowling.
Buck-Hill-Inn-Lawn-Bowling-1934
Lawn bowling at Buck Hill Inn, circa 1934
  • 1934: The ski area gets its first rope tow lift.
  • 1935: the Buck Hill Inn hosted Rexford Tugwell, Stuart Taylor, and Eleanor Roosevelt as they held a conference on the future of housing and resettlement regarding the New Deal’s Resettlement Administration.
  • Buck-Hill-Falls-Poma-Lift-19611936: Buck Hill Falls shareholders built the pool that stands today. It measures 165 feet long and 65 feet wide, has an attached 50-foot-wide wing with diving boards, and a retractable glass roof.
  • 1958: The dining room at Buck Hill Inn begins serving liquor for the first time; within a few years a cocktail lounge was opened.
  • 1961: The ski area gets its first seated chair lift.
  • 1964: West wing added to hotel, however it was more modern in design and is not considered by many to be visually compatible with the “Mission Revival” style of the existing structure (pictured below).
Buck Hill Inn west wing (courtesy stits)
Buck Hill Inn west wing (courtesy stits)

*

Inn at Buck Hill Falls Through the Years

(in chronological order)

*

Decline Forces Change in Ownership

Buck-Hill-Falls-skiingThe financial outlook of the hotel operation began unraveling in the mid-1960s. Prices of air travel had become cheaper and more accessible to the masses. Cruise ship packages were becoming more popular.

By the 1970s the oil crisis added another headwind, as city motorists were less willing to take trips to the Poconos with the higher prices of fuel.

The settlement’s ski area, once a draw for Buck Hill Falls, now lacked the thrills of newer ski slopes with greater vertical drops and more modern lifts. By 1977 the Buck Hill Falls Company was struggling with the economics of owning and operating the Inn. The hotel was losing money, and maintenance costs were escalating.

In August of 1977 the board of directors decided to sell the inn to Walter Sabo, president and chief executive officer of the Buck Hill Falls Company. In exchange for the rights to the inn, dormitory, stables, ice skating rink, power house, maintenance building, and a number of cottages on 134 acres, Sabo agreed to pay $2.6 million and assume liabilities, which included $750,000 in outstanding debentures.

source
source

The Buck Hill Falls Company retained ownership of the remainder of the community, including the 4,500 acres of land, 21 miles of roads, 27-hole golf course, tennis courts, and water system and sewage treatment plant.

Buck-Hill-Inn-brochure-1985-cover
Cover of Buck Hill Inn’s 1985 Visitor’s Brochure

For a brief spell the Inn enjoyed a modicum of success under Sabo, namely through its hosting of business conferences. Unfortunately the mortgage on the Buck Hill Inn was tied to the prime interest rate. When Sabo purchased the Inn in 1977, rates were around 6%; three years later, rates skyrocketed past 20%. Meanwhile an energy crisis in 1979 resulted in soaring gas prices – and ultimately a gas freeze. This meant potential guests could no longer make the trek from New York or Philadelphia, which in turn left Buck Hill’s rooms empty.

[ View: 1985 Buck Hill Inn brochure (pdf format) ]

In 1981 Walter Sabo sold the Buck Hill Inn to Astrid and Jacob Keuler, who operated the Buck Hill Inn for nearly ten years. The Keulers didn’t have to endure an energy crisis or rising rates, but the resort was still facing other headwinds: A dire need of a capital injection for structural repairs and the growing stigma of Pocono Mountain resorts as places with shag carpet, coin-operated beds, and heart-shaped Jacuzzi tubs.

As a later Buck Hill Inn owner observed about the reputation of the Poconos: “It’s the butt of Seinfeld jokes.”

buck-hill-falls-map-legend
click for interactive map

Guest numbers were dwindling, but the Keulers continued Sabo’s positioning of the resort as a convention center destination.

Buck-Hill-Inn-horseback-ridingA 1980’s article by Great American Convention Centers highlights the Buck Hill Inn as having one of the “Ten Best” convention centers in the United States. The review was positive:

The largest resort in the Poconos is self-sufficient, even having its own fire department. It also has 14 tennis courts, two golf courses and putting greens, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, and an indoor skating rink almost as big as Madison Square Gardens’. Buck Hill Inn contains a riding school with 6,000 acres of bridle paths and footpaths, five miles of trout streams and a 200-foot waterfall: Buck Hill Falls. Its convention facilities vary from small rooms holding 20 to a separate conference center that accommodates 250, and an auditorium which seats 800.”

A November 1986 L.A. Times article mentions the “Corporate Kill” package at Buck Hill Falls, where guests paid $325 to pretend to be “multimillionaire stockholders in the middle of a very unfriendly corporate takeover.” Whomever discovered the takeover and solved the murder was the winner.

brochure written by Walter Sabo Jr., images courtesy Jonathan Haeber

While the Inn was experimenting with ideas to attract visitors, the now-unburdened Buck Hill Falls Company was looking to upgrade the remainder of its facilities. To do this, it needed to raise additional capital. In 1985 plans were laid for a five-year, multi-million dollar program which included doubling the number of houses. The dilution of the property provided the funding for renovating the sports facilities.

The company sold a portion of the land – but maintained an equity interest in any new development. Homeowners act as shareholders in the corporation; its activities are financed through annual dues collected from the shareholders. The corporation oversees the sports facilities, garbage collection, roads, utilities, water, and woodlands. In exchange for the dilution, Buck Hill Falls Company would see its golf and tennis clubhouses renovated as well as the construction of a new children’s camp building next to the 48-acre dry lake, which would be re-filled with water.

Buck-Hill-Inn-12-indoor-pool
Buck Hill Inn indoor pool, 2011 (courtesy Jonathan Haeber)

*

End of the Road

The writing might have been on the wall for decades, but few could have been prepared for the abrupt end of its operation. In a fall 2000 TV interview, then-owner of Buck Hill Inn Bill Kirkhuff revealed the previous owner (Jacob Keuler) had shut down the Inn at Buck Hill Falls quickly after his wife fell ill:

Bill-Kirkhuff-interviewMR. KEULER DROVE HER TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL, checked her into a psychiatric ward, and announced to the staff he was closing the hotel. All the guests checked out, and that was it. Beds were made, there were towels in the bathroom, bars of soap. It really appeared to be frozen in time.

joseph-battisto
Monroe County State Representative Joseph Battisto

The four-hundred room Inn at Buck Hill Falls closed in 1990, ninety years after it had opened with just twenty rooms. Opinions on the genesis of its demise vary, but according to Monroe County State Representative Joseph Battisto (pictured), the hotel suffered from a lack of reinvestment by management.

Battisto pointed out that some other area properties – including Skytop and the four Caesars resorts – improved their facilities and managed to continue attracting customers.

Whatever the reason, the closing of the Buck Hill Falls Inn left dozens without jobs and damaged the region’s economy.

Over the next several years the Inn’s fate lay in purgatory as deed paperwork and tax liens were disputed. Eventually the hotel came under ownership of Buck Hill Falls Realty Corporation, an entity owned by Scranton-based businessman Lou DeNaples.

*

Attempted Renaissance

Buck-Hill-Inn-30-nightstand-phone
courtesy Jonathan Haeber

Buck Hill Falls Inn had been closed for nearly eight years when Buck Hill Falls (BHF) Landlords announced in 1998 it had purchased the mortgage on the hotel. The Atlantic City, New Jersey-based company acquired the mortgage for reportedly less than $1 million dollars from DeNaples’ BHF Realty Corporation.

BHF Landlords was led by Bill Kirkhuff, who revealed plans to spend $28 million redeveloping the hotel. In December Kirkhuff said there were no deadlines in place, however by February of 1999 he was more optimistic and announced the doors were scheduled to re-open by the summer of 2000 under a new name: The Buck Hill Falls Conference Resort.

He also expected to spend $600,000 on a new roof and to replace around 756 windows… at a cost of $480,000.

Buck Hill Inn circa 1999
Buck Hill Inn circa 1999

Initially, progress appeared to be underway when scaffolding was erected around and the hotel held auctions for its furniture. But by April of the following year the scaffolding had come back down after the project stalled due to lack of funding. It was the fourth time financiers had backed out of a deal with Kirkhuff’s group.

BHF Landlords’ troubles were not limited to financing woes, although an April 2000 estimate ratcheting remodel costs up to $30 million didn’t help matters. When Bill Kirkhuff tried to foreclose on the property to obtain the deed, issues with the paperwork and a missing $5,000 deposit also prevented BHF from securing the deed.

photo set courtesy Jonathan Haeber

Three years later a group of creditors tried to force Buck Hill Inn into involuntary bankruptcy. The 2003 claim was made by three creditors — Parker Oil Co., the law firm of Newman, Williams, Corveleyn, Wolfe and Fareri, and the accounting firm of Weseloh & Co. — who claimed they were owed a total of $50,706.

“For all intents and purposes, whoever holds the mortgage [to Buck Hill Inn] controls the property.”

– Bill Kirkhuff

Buck Hill’s East Room: 1950s and today

*

MTV’s Fear

mtv-fear-logoPerhaps the only blemish on the résumé of the Inn at Buck Hill Falls was its use by MTV for a television show episode in 2000. During the fall of that year, the television network used the hotel – by this time abandoned for ten years – for an episode of “Fear(aired in 2001; season 1, episode 6, watch).

The show sends a group of teenagers into a suspected haunted property without help or professional camera crews to look for paranormal activity. MTV had permission to use the property, but the network took liberties with reporting the Inn’s history and made some questionable claims of which there have been little evidence (one urban legend claims the hotel was the site of suicides and 73 murders).

Buck-Hill-Inn-29-indoor-pool
Buck Hill Inn indoor pool (courtesy Jonathan Haeber)

The tales recounted on MTV were haunting and thrilling – but most were news to the long-time Buck Hill Falls residents, who knew of the Inn as a happy and peaceful place during its heyday. Sometimes Interesting’s independent investigation into regional police affidavits and newspaper articles yielded no record of murders or suicides at the Inn.

Owner Bill Kirkhuff was not entirely pleased with the MTV portrayal.

I don’t think MTV’s intention was ever to accurately portray the building’s history. There are rumors and legends about the building, just like there is about any old building, but not nearly to the level that MTV aired.”

However he was pragmatic in his assessment:

Buck-Hill-Inn-suite
Suite at the Buck Hill Inn (courtesy urban explorer)

I think the MTV producers got a little frustrated when they were trying to tape a show called ‘Fear’ and there wasn’t any to be had. That’s why they may have gone to such great lengths to embellish.”

Is the Inn at Buck Hill Falls haunted? “It all depends on what your mindset is,” said Kirkhuff. “If you believe in ghosts, you may think it’s haunted.”

Regardless, Kirkhuff believes the real legacy of the inn is that of “nostalgia and sentimentality.”

Buck Hill Inn, circa 2003. One of last photos of Annex (pictured on left) before July 2003 fire.
Buck Hill Inn, circa 2003. One of last photos of Annex (pictured on left) before July 2003 fire. (courtesy Pocono Record)

*

Fires & Trespassers

On July 7th, 2003, the Buck Hill Inn was almost lost in a fire. That evening, three fires were started around the premises, according to a police affidavit. The first fire was started in the library with books piled on top of each other. The second fire was started in nearby room using cardboard boxes.

Buck-Hill-Inn-annex-fire-2003
Buck Hill Inn Annex on fire

The third fire was started using foam rubber in the recreation hall building by the Annex – the building which once housed Buck Hill employees and servants to the guests.

It was the third fire which was discovered first, as the recreation hall went up in flames quickly. According to the Barrett Township Fire Chief, the heat was such that the roof of the next-door Annex ignited, starting what would be the fourth fire.

The fires destroyed the five-story field stone Annex and one-story wooden recreation hall, leaving remnants of some stone walls and a pair of chimneys. Deemed unsafe, the remains had to come down. Three men were arrested and charged with starting the fires.

Buck-Hill-Inn-2003
Buck Hill Inn, 2003 (courtesy Pocono Record)

By 2006 trespassing had become a rampant problem. Since the MTV episode in 2001, between 50 and 100 trespassers have been apprehended each year. Authorities say it usually peaks during Halloween, and cite how as many as fifteen people were arrested one year.

Police and property owners consider it a serious problem, and the penalties reflect this, so don’t do it:

Trespassers receive 90 days in jail or a $300 fine.

Some trespassers are easier to catch than others. In April of 2011 one violator bragged on Facebook and posted photos of items she had taken from the hotel. Fortunately for authorities, she was kind enough to post the time and date she would return to take more things.

She was quickly apprehended.

This 2005 Buck Hill Inn aerial photo shows former locations of Annex and Recreation Hall.
This 2005 Buck Hill Inn aerial photo shows former locations of Annex and Recreation Hall.

*

New Ownership & Plans

Buck-Hill-Inn-18-library
courtesy Jonathan Haeber

In January of 2005 an investment group known as Falls Road Funding LLC (FRF) announced the purchase of the inn’s mortgage from Kirkhuff’s group for an undisclosed amount. FRF was composed of John Miller, a magazine publisher, Vince Keegan, a real estate lawyer, and Chuck Rusbusan, a financial executive.

According to Miller, the new group would hold a clear title to the property after foreclosure – which he expected in January of 2006. “We’re putting together a marketing package for that and we’re really going to move [quickly].”

FRF had intentions of re-selling the property to a developer, however the real estate market collapse and financial crisis between 2007 and ‘08 forced a change of plans. In the years since, the lending climate has continued to prevent FRF from finding a developer with financing.

Buck Hill Inn circa 2011
Buck Hill Inn circa 2011 (courtesy Pocono Record)

However the group was successful in getting financial assistance from the state after requesting Local Share Account (LSA) funds, a Pennsylvania grant used for economic development, community development, and public interest projects in Monroe County.

In May of 2011 Pennsylvania State senator John Blake announced $90k in appropriated LSA funds for a proposed event center and boutique-style hotel at the Buck Hill Inn. A second LSA grant of $100k was requested in 2012 for “renovation costs associated with the proposed event center at historic Buck Hill Inn.

The difficulty in securing financing has resulted in another change of plans for the Inn’s owners. A new plan included a 50-to-80-room boutique hotel that would use only the standalone south building of the property. The first phase of the project is expected to cost $9 million; the second phase would be to demolish part of the inn while salvaging as much as possible.

According to owner Vince Keegan, “When you’re talking about the old, historic building, you’re talking about maybe a third of it or hopefully half that can be saved. The roof has been leaking for 20 years… It’s going to take a while.”

photo set courtesy Jonathan Haeber

Buck-Hill-Inn-Lamps-Storage-Room
Buck Hill Inn lamp storage (courtesy urban explorer)

Plans were temporarily halted in September of 2014, when a police manhunt for FBI most-wanted fugitive Eric Frein resulted in authorities sealing off the Buck Hill Inn and combing the building in search of their vigilante.

Frein was wanted for the killing of a Pennsylvania State Trooper and wounding of another. According to authorities, Frein had an interest in the Buck Hill Inn and spent time in the hotel in the years before the attack.

A month after the FBI raid, two companies announced they would accept sealed bids for the Inn at Buck Hill Falls. Maryland-based Hollywood Real Estate Services LLC, and Washington, D.C.-based Summit Commercial Real Estate LLC announced in December of 2014 they would assist in a divestiture of the property.

Buck-Hill-Inn-sealed-bid-offering

The companies have submitted a commercial real estate listing:

Hotel / Motel For Sale. Price: Not Disclosed. No. Rooms: 400. Building Size: 400,000 SF. Property Type: Hotel & Motel. Property Sub-type: Full Service. Property Use Type: Vacant/Owner-User. Lot Size: 138 AC. Listing ID: 18998548.

Buck-Hill-Inn-aerial-1

“Excellent Hospitality and/or Residential Re-Development Opportunity, located in Monroe County, PA. Site is approximately 90 -100 miles from New York City and Philadelphia, PA. Site includes The Historic Buck Hill Inn (Approximately 450 Rooms, 27 Hole Golf Course & adjacent to 5000 acres of woodlands). Master Plan Approved Community. Now Accepting Bids! (Bid on entire parcel or portions).
Great Opportunity for International Investors, Health Care Systems, Senior Living, National Builders & Equestrian & Fly-In Based Communities.”

Buck-Hill-Inn-Dec-2014
Buck Hill Inn, December 2014 (courtesy Scott Krycia)

*

Today

Buck-Hill-Inn-27-employee-uniform
courtesy Jonathan Haeber

There is little official recognition for the inn at 35 Falls Drive in Buck Hill Falls, PA. In addition to investors’ efforts, it has been listed as a threatened property by Pennsylvania Preservation, a non-profit group dedicated to the preservation of historic places in the state.

The Buck Hill Falls Company no longer has an economic interest in the Buck Hill Inn, but the company still manages more than 4,500 acres of rolling Pocono hills.

Boosters still see the potential of a vacation resort located just 90 minutes from New York City (and slightly more from Philadelphia). They point out more than 30 million people live within two hours of Buck Hill Falls.

If anyone’s interested, FRF is still the owner and they are seeking investors for a redevelopment effort.

Update 09/07/2016: S-I reader Steve Smith tells us the hotel is currently cordoned off and undergoing preparations for demolition.

Buck-Hill-Inn-RW
courtesy Ryan Weiss

*

Watch: Drone footage shows magnificence of hotel and beauty of surrounding landscape (courtesy Scott Krycia).

**

For more information, contact The Buck Hill Falls Company at their administrative office: P.O. Box 426, Buck Hill Falls, Pennsylvania 18323, 570-595-7511

A special thanks to the Buck Hill Falls Company, BuckHillFalls.org, Falls Road Funding LLC, Jonathan Haeber, and the Pocono Record for their assistance, information, and photos provided for this post.

***

62 COMMENTS

  1. So sad. It was such a beauty in its day!!!!! I love the old style of the original buildings out of stone/brick. And I really enjoyed the drone footage.

    Buying land for $2 an acre…”those were the good old days!”

    Thanks for the post!

    • Thanks, I thought the Drone footage was great, really helps “show” the property and its views. I’d jump on the $2 an acre deal today, ha!

  2. Love the detail and work you put into each post. That’s why I keep coming back!
    BTW, every single one of your posts is ALWAYS interesting!!!

    • Thanks Ben for coming back! Sometimes I think I might put too much detail in some posts. Glad to hear it’s appreciated. 🙂

  3. Thank you! I hadn’t thought of this place in a very long time. t was there in 1970 and it was like stepping back into the past.
    If it was haunted, it was only by the most gentle ghosts. It would be wonderful if it could be renewed for future generations.

    • Thanks for the comment Carolyn. I bet it was a fantastic time. Just about every account I’ve read has been overwhelmingly positive. I agree, would be great if the place could be restored to its former glory.

  4. As always a pleasure to read. It’s a beautiful old building. I grew up in southern Connecticut. I remember when there was still an exodus in the summers to the Poconos for vacations and camp. Nice to be reminded.

    • Thanks for stopping by Noelle. Southern Connecticut isn’t so bad either. You are well-traveled. 🙂

      • I grew up in a large Italian/Irish family. We never traveled. When I turned 18 I had a huge case of wanderlust, but couldn’t afford to travel. So I sort of just moved places. I’d live somewhere for a few years and then move again. Finally I did start traveling, but I’ve definitely lived a lot of places. Upstate NY and the Poconos are really beautiful. I particularly like the finger lakes area.

        • That’s probably a better way to fully experience different places versus just visiting. I’ve found when I’m on vacation just about every place seems great! But a lot of that has to do with the fact you don’t have to work while you’re visiting. So on the plus side, you got to see the “real” other places. 😉

  5. Has the ownership considered crowd funding, to cover at least one area of renovation? Set it up to sell 1″ squares of the property? I’m far from wealthy, but I’d consider upwards of $10 for a square in the amphitheater, for instance… The Inn is a humungous site, and several donations of $1-$10 (or, of course, more) could be substantial. What do you think?

    • Barbara – I’m sure it’s possible, but it would probably require extraordinary participation to be effective. I believe the last estimates to repair/restore complete hotel were approaching $30 million. If donations of $10 were submitted, it would still take 3 million people to donate to hit the goal. Unfortunately that’s probably too big of an ask for this cause.

  6. Another great one! For me the most fascinating thing about this kind of places is the contrast between what it used to be like in its heyday and what it’s like now. Kind of gives you a perspective on the temporary nature of things…

    • My friend Andrei! Good to hear from you, I hope things are well in your part of the world. 🙂
      Thanks for the feedback, I’ll try to incorporate more before & after photos when I can. I agree, I think it helps show the changes and temporary nature. Structures over here seem to lack the permanence of the greats from your country.

  7. Way too cool. This is making me want to do some drone work over other sites, they are great for pics without trespassing. Flying indoors is not out of the question, some of these places should be opened up. Could spend a year in Detroit and Gary alone.

    • Great points – Detroit and Gary offer a wealth of great Drone footage possibilities. Also a fair way to see something without risking danger to yourself. Of course, there are exceptions… Did you see the recent report of the Enrique Iglesias concert? Oof.

      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  8. This might be a silly question, but if it’s illegal to trespass on lands like these, then how do you get the photos for this article and others? I noticed that John Haeber commonly is the photographer for these articles, and does he have some sort of permit? Thanks- just wanted to know for my photography adventures!

    • There have been instances of access authorized by the owners and escorted via the caretaker. MTV, news reporters, real estate personnel, and a haunted house held during Halloween in the past have all been occasions that allowed for access. I would recommend asking the property owners if you would like authorized access. Good luck!

  9. Wow, this is one of the more interesting ones. How amazing would this hotel have been in it’s hey-day? It’s almost criminal to see it reduced to such a state these days – those old stone facades and mahogany interiors were beautiful.

    This hotel is straight out of ‘The Shining’…

    • Cheers potedude, thanks for the feedback. There will be future hotel/resort features. 😉

  10. Another absolutely fascinating post. I, for one, very much appreciate the detail you go in to with these, and always get excited when a new post pops up on my reader! Thanks for much for the time and effort you or in to them.

    • Thank you very much for the kind feedback Colin, thanks for being a loyal reader! Cheers 🙂

  11. What an astounding site! I really wish people would not go in and vandalise or cause fires in these places. It means genuine urban explorers who would leave no trace find it more difficult to get access and get an unfair bad name. Sadly I fear the sheer scale and costs of the place could defeat any development that will save it but who knows. Great article.

    • Thanks Alex, I agree, the vandals give the rest of us a bad name. Although I’d guess most of these property owners probably don’t differentiate between types of trespassers. 😉

  12. Like one of your previous posts on the abandoned resort in the former Yugoslavia, I find this one really interesting. I’m not sure why, but evidence of how people used to relax and holiday is compelling. People working in coal mines for 16 hours a day? Sure, you had to do what you could to make a living and get by. Relatively affluent people driving an hour or two to play cards with each other and read the newspaper in rocking chairs on a porch? Fascinating. Not that we don’t have giant vacation centers now (theme parks, all-inclusive resorts, etc) but maybe we were more communal back then, and actually liked the idea of interacting with relative strangers in our leisure time, rather than just shuffling little Logan or Sophia to their next encounter with a man dressed as a copyrighted children’s cartoon character. Or maybe that’s why old people still like cruise ships; they seem to be the buoyant descendants of these Poconos resorts. Or, perhaps, I’m overthinking it all. Cheers on a fine post.

    • Ha, thanks TR good to see you around. 🙂 I find it interesting how our ideas of recreation have changed as well. Just think, kids these days won’t have ever known a world without ipads and smartphones. They will never have had the pleasure of using beepers, and memorizing beeper codes, etc!

  13. What a great site this is! I’m new here but I will definitely keep coming back. Thank you for your efforts and the amount of detail and information. What a nice surprise.

    • Thanks for stopping by Jo, the feedback (especially on the detail) is appreciated! It’s always a balance between keeping it interesting and providing too much information. Cheers, and glad to have you on board. 🙂

  14. This was an excellent portrayal and I appreciated the factual basis. Thank-you very much for sharing! My husband and I may be there in the next few months and I wish tours were option to the public, as I greatly appreciate the history here.

    • Thanks for the feedback Sarah. A lot of the stories surrounding the building do make for good nighttime reading, if only they were true… 😉 Have fun on your trip, I think if there was enough demand, they might.

  15. I have had family coming to buck hill since the 20’s and the inn is a very cool place. I have a house here now along with many of my relatives it is a great place and the inn deserves to be fixed it is a very expensive project though and I hope it can be fixed soon. I can clarify that it is not haunted. I have been in since the closing and walk by it multiple times every day in the summer. I’ve been at night and the day and it’s not haunted. It is very dangerous to go inside though due to asbestos and mold but if fixed it could become very nice place like back in the day

    • How did you get in without being seen? Is there security that patrols it? I would love to just walk around outside and check it out? Would someone really get mad for doing so?

  16. What a great story. I heard of this place but did not know the backstory. Excellent research, thanks for giving us all the links too.

  17. I would love to walk around just the out side of the place. Is that allowed? Is there security that patrols this place

  18. It just went up for online auction on auction dot com. I saw that on the local news this morning found this wonderful site. I was going to school at East Stroudsburg University when we saw the MTV show. Needless to say some of my roomies were lucky enough to get in and out without getting caught.

  19. Does awesome article. Thank you for the links and photos! I loved this. I’m so interested in this inn. I wou do love for it to be remodeled, can you imagine how breath taking it would be? Give the Shawnee Inn a run for its money. Does anyone know if you can explore around there without having to get arrested? Do you need a permit? Is there someone you can contact? If anyone knows, would it be possible to get an email? Much appreciated, thanks guys!!! :-). ashleyjimenez2345@gmail.com

  20. Ashley I would love to speak with you about this because I have similar questions and ideas please contact me as soon as possible. I don’t respond through email but this page said i had to give one anyway, so if you don’t mind contacting me through my Facebook account I’d highly appreciate it! http://Www.facebook.com/nikki.oliveri

  21. What a beautiful and classy hotel this was! Thank you for sharing these pictures. I will cherish them.

  22. Thank you so much for putting this together. I grew up in Buck Hill and lived there from 67-’82 before moving to FL. What a great place to be a kid! I have so many memories of the Inn while it was still open. Playing in the Game room, visiting the library with my mom, seeing shows in the auditorium and swimming in the indoor pool in wintertime. Christmas brought the Yule log hunt and bonfire, and there were so many other fun events and activities.
    I made many friends of the kids who would visit from out of town, and still remember the sad quiet feeling as I walked through the Inn on a Monday after a fun weekend. Everyone had gone home and The Inn would await the next round of guests.
    The Inn provided a great shelter for me from the winter cold as I walked to the school bus stop from my house each day. Loved the old “Bluestone Room” later called the “Greenery” as a place to browse magazines, get a milkshake or a pack of gum.
    It was my second home, and I will always cherish those memories.

    I’ve visited a few times recently, and have been inside since the closing. It is a shell of it’s former self, and I have a hard time imagining the cost and labor required to renovate it. I still hold out hope for a miracle, but it seems like a long shot for anyone except those with the deepest pockets and appreciation for nostalgia.

    • Thanks for the comment Chris, what a great first-hand account from Buck Hill Inn. I never had the opportunity to visit, but your description does a good job of capturing the experience for many of us who weren’t as lucky. It does sound that just about everyone had a great experience at the hotel. Your mention of the feeling on Mondays was interesting, and something most probably don’t think about. Well then, fingers crossed that someone with deep pockets and nostalgia steps up! 😉

  23. This is such a shame. once a great hotel that my grandfather and grandmother loved. they put all they had into this place and with both of my parents. it is so said to see how much the facts are not right. my grandmother was never put into a psychiatric facility! it also Killed my grandfather to have to close the doors of this place, it was everything to him. I just wish some times people would take a moment to get the facts right before spreading rumors ! This is one great place of history, not Jut for my family but the may years that it has been around. I hope some day that there will be people our there who realize the great value of this place and restore it to its former glory.

    • Hi Jordan, thanks for leaving a comment. I’m disappointed to learn there are inaccuracies with the story. Quite some time was spent researching and compiling information from various sources, but of course sometimes the sources can be wrong. The quote about the hospital was taken from an interview with the Buck Hill Inn’s owner at the time, Bill Kirkhuff, from this video clip: https://youtu.be/sZLLR1CMwX8?t=3m36s

      If it is incorrect, please do feel free to set the record straight. And I would appreciate it if you would help me in identifying what other facts the article did not get right so that we don’t “spread rumors.” That is certainly not the intention. I hope the account was accurate and otherwise enjoyable. Thank you!

  24. I worked at The Inn in 1964, first as a waitress on weekends while I was in college, and then as a relish girl ( carried trays of breads and condiments from table to table in the dining room) for the summer. It was a beautiful place then. There were tunnels that ran from the Annex where employees lived to the Inn! Great for bad weather! At that time, dorms, rec halls and dining areas for employees were segregated. Kind of interesting for a facility run by Quakers!
    The Inn will always have a special place in my heart. Seeing it in terrible disrepair brings tears to my eyes.

    • Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with Buck Hill, Lynn. Buck Hill Lynn. Ha, I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. 😉

      I enjoy hearing the personal stories, they’re always positive and just reinforce the great reputation of the Buck Hill Inn. Thanks again for sharing yours. Cheers!

  25. I am sitting here in Florida, a retired teacher viewing this site on Buck Hill. It is indeed sad. I spent my summers at Pocono Manor where my grandfather built a cottage in 1901. Idyllic summers to say the least. From 1940 until I was 18 we spent every summer in Pocono Manor a nearby resort. It was a place where my mother as a young woman raced her sled dogs and participated in the local activities as a teenager. We lived in Philadelphia and would leave right after school was out and go to the Poconos. My sister and I attended summer camp for most of the summer, doing all kind of sports, from tennis, to golf, horse back riding crafts etc. for $35.00 per month. We mixed with the wealthy and not so wealthy cottage owners and attended bingo games in the hotel, and later dances. We would have competitions with Buck Hill and Sky Top, travelling there in the “worm”, an extended, now a “limo” type 1948 Ford sedan often getting queasy from curving around the mountain roads. A nice job on this as what was a childhood in this area full of memories of learning new things, from making crafts to having your first kiss. Even the Manor is dicey over recent years when I have visited. Well done.

  26. Your incredibly detailed and accurate history of the INN left out one fact. In 1977 when the INN was cut out from the package of 6000 acres and sold on its own, it was sold to my family. My father Walter Sabo was the owner. The brochure you posted YOUR NEW PROFIT CENTER…I wrote that.

    He made the Inn viable with conference business. It was profitable. What slammed him was his mortgage was tied to the prime rate. You’ll recall that during the Carter administration Prime went to 18 percent!! Gas prices soared and there was a gas purchase freeze. That meant customers couldn’t drive from NYC or Philly. He sold it to the Kuhlers.

    But you have put together by far the best history I’ve read. Thank you Walter

    • Walter, Thank you very much for the kind words about the article. I must apologize for the omission, despite my research I appear to have missed this important detail in the history of the Buck Hill Inn. I had no idea you authored the brochure. Pretty neat to hear from the person who designed it, I thought the brochure looked great! Thank you for reaching out and correcting me with this important information. I have updated the post.

  27. I worked there for 10 weeks one Christmas circa 82/83 on a working holiday from Australia. Whilst having mixed memories of the experience, I found it a fascinating place and am sorry to see it’s decline. Never any talk or thoughts of ghosts when I was there.

    The owners were nice people, perhaps she was a little eccentric but seemed to be trying to revive the inn at the time.

Leave a Reply