The Cliff House

Basic category for information pertaining to Lake Minnewaska's history.
Alice Manfredini

The Cliff House

Postby Alice Manfredini » Fri Sep 06, 2002 1:22 pm

The last time I visited Lake Minnewaska was the summer of 1961 or 1962. My family and I took annual trips to the Cliff House with our church group, and I have wonderful memories of that lovely place. We moved to Illinois when I was 16, and I have never been back there since, but I have thought of the Cliff House so often through the years! My sister and I are planning to the area sometime this summer, and we couldn't wait to introduce our husbands to the lake and its unique house on the cliff. Sadly, a web search for a phone number revealed the fact that Cliff House had burned down in 1978.

I'm so happy that you started this site and that I was able to view those wonderful old photos. Your words clearly show that the spirit of those lovely mountain houses lives on in those who, like you, were there while they were still thriving. I thank you for sharing your photos and your memories with us. I will visit often!

David Haines

Postby David Haines » Fri Sep 06, 2002 1:22 pm

Lake Minnewaska, Cliff House, The Dungeon, The Kitchen. Those were my real addresses in the summer of 1963. Great Time! My sister and brother worked Cliffhouse in the summer of 1953, He a front door jockey and she a maid. Ten years later, my father and mother made certain that I followed in their footsteps. What a joy and memories that grew out of that time in my life. God Bless Lake Minnewaska, Cliff House, The Dungeon and yes, even the "hated" Kitchen. If you were at Cliff House in the summer of 1963, I would love to communicate with you. David Haines

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Postby Admin » Fri Sep 06, 2002 1:23 pm

What was "The Dungeon"? Never heard of that one.

David Haines

Postby David Haines » Fri Sep 06, 2002 1:24 pm

Sam: The dungeon was the name given to the Male barracks (located under Cliff House) where all the male staff lived. I have no idea where the Wildmere Staff resided as they were always the "upper crust of society" Their assistant dishwasher probably out ranked me by virtue of his station at Wildmere

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Postby Ken » Fri Sep 06, 2002 1:24 pm

Wow! The Wildmere/Cliff House rivalry still exists…

The Dungeon was a universal concept applied to either House. The Cliff House had somewhat bigger rooms, painted white, no sinks and a common bathroom/shower. It was located at ground level in the basement under the hall leading from the Cliff House Lobby to the Parlor and it was entered through a side door by the old wood furnace or the other furnace door under the Cliff House Lobby.

The Wildmere rooms were also ground level and in the basement, but they were insulated and heated and ran the length of the building from the Dining Room, through the Lobby to the Parlor -- almost 250 feet. The Wildmere dorm was pine paneled with paneling made by the winter crew from ancient Hemlocks blown down in the Palmaghatt during a storm. My Dad made a winch out of an old Model A Ford engine and with Ray Otis, Fred and Carl Wells and others winched the huge logs out of the tangled mess, cut them up and made the paneling. I'll have to fill in more details about this story or maybe Dad will contribute directly.

Now… what was the name given to the girls dorm?

"Heaven" is apt, but not politically correct and we are very concerned about correctness here in Florida!

Anyway. The Girls were elevated in the upper floors of both Cliff House and Wildmere. I can remember (as I am confident every male can) sitting on the steps leading to the dormitory as I waited for Mimi, Susan, Sue, Jeannie… Boy, can I get in trouble here! The Cliff House steps were narrow, dim and carpeted; the Wildmere ones were somewhat wider, no carpet. The night watchman used to spend entirely too much time at the back steps at Cliff House!


Postby Maria » Fri Sep 06, 2002 1:25 pm

I stayed at the Cliff House girls dorm...all I remember abut it was that there were bunk beds...showers with mostly cold water at the end of the hall...Remember those black waitress uniforms (sexy) I had lots of fun that summer...does anyone remember the tower at Cliff house? The falls at the entrance to Minnewaska were beautiful...thought so then and still do all this time. (Yes I remember the tall boys complaining that they couldn't stand up straight in their rooms because of the pipes running along ceiling)


Postby Amy » Fri Sep 06, 2002 1:25 pm

I stayed at Cliff House too on the top floor. One of my rooms was at the very end on that floor and there was a little porch right off that room. I don't know the story of why those two houses burned - it makes me so sad though. It was one of the most beautiful places on earth in those days (late 60's early 70's) and working as a waitress was one of the most fun times I ever had in my life. Tips AWFUL but so much fun!

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