Lake Minnewaska Mountain Houses


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Albert Keith Smiley purchases 310 acres surrounding and including Lake Mohonk from John F. Stokes for $28,110.


Albert and twin brother Alfred Homans Smiley begin operation of the Mohonk Mountain House out of the Stokes tavern. The House maintains their Quaker lifestyle (temperance, no card playing or dancing, frequent religious services) and seeks to emphasize the unique and natural beauty of the property.


Albert, Alfred, and their families take a carriage outing to neighboring summer "Coxing Pond" (also spelled "Coxen"). Immediately taken with the property, Alfred purchases 2,200 acres including and surrounding Coxing Pond from George Davis of the Trapps, who owns most of the property, and who arranges other landowners' sale to Smiley (ie., Cole, Markle, Decker). Alfred renames the pond "Lake Minnewaska" and begins planning development. According to an article in the "Independent" dated 10/14/1875, the purchase price was $1 per acre. Click here for article.


Construction of Cliff House begins.


The Alfred Smiley family moves from Mohonk to Minnewaska. Cliff House is nearly completed.

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Minnewaska Mountain House (Cliff House) officially opens for business.


Old Minnewaska Carriage Road constructed along the Ridge to connect the Mohonk and Minnewaska properties. Guests enjoy complete reciprocity between the Houses.


Cliff House was enlarged to accommodate 225 guests.


Wildmere opens


Lake Awosting and surrounding property purchased from Julius Schoonmaker and Ella S. Darrow.


Boys summer camp constructed at Lake Awosting. Activities include nature study watersports and woodcrafts. The camper's fee is approx.$200 per boy for a ten week stay.

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Alfred H. Smiley dies.


Minnewaska Road constructed to connect the Walkill and Rondout Valleys through the Trapps. Lake Minnewaska stocked with bass but "they do not increase rapidly".

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Wildmere enlarged to accommodate 350 guests.

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Mountain House rates as quoted in a brochure are $12 - $23/ week for a single room in the month of June, $15 - $32/ week for a single in July, August, and September. This includes room, board, and use of the facilities.


Automobiles allowed to drive up to the mountain houses for the first time.


Wildmere wired for electric lights.


Blast set off in Lake Minnewaska to recover the body of a drowning victim; 150 yellow perch killed as a result.


Still said to be fish in Lake Minnewaska.


Recreational facilities include: 5 tennis courts, 4 bath houses, 2 long wharves with cushioned row boats, a putting green, carriage and saddle livery, a baseball diamond, quoit grounds, shuffle boards and hundreds of "summer houses" (gazebos).

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11 horses killed in a fire that razed a barn located NE of Lake Minnewaska on the road connecting the Minnewaska and Mohonk properties. The fire supposedly started in the haymow.


Forest fire threatens buildings at Awosting Camp. Water from Lake Awosting pumped to fight the fire, which ran from Cragsmoor and the Walker Valley to near Lake Minnewaska.


Camp Laurel (at Awosting) opens to boys and girls aged 6-14 with both overnight and day camping.

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Kenneth B. Phillips, Sr., the Minnewaska general manager, purchases the entire Minnewaska and Awosting property holding (approx. 10,000 acres) from the Smiley family. Although no public record of the financial transaction has been located, a 10/9/2000 Daily Freeman newspaper interview of the Phillips' states that the purchase price was $250,000 plus $400,000 in debt. Click link to left for that article. The Smileys retain several privileges on the property (reserved tables, rooms, vehicles, lease holdings, etc.).


Rock climbers first reported in the area by the newspaper Independent with a photo of two climbers taken from the hairpin turn of Rte. 44/55 (east) and an account of an accident.


6 of the 9 holes planned for the golf course reported to be playable.


Dan Piper, age 17, son of the founder of Piper Aircraft, dies in a plane crash about 100 ft. from the carriageway encircling Lake Minnewaska.

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Ken Phillips Sr. announces plans to open a ski center designed especially for the intermediate skier. A 1500-foot T-bar lift with a capacity to tow 1200 skiers/hour and four long slopes are planned.

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Ski Minne restaurant opens

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8/12/1964 Fires burn over 100 acres, but no buildings are destroyed. The fires broke out in seven different locations, resulting in three independent fires. Arson is suspected.

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Liquor becomes available at the Minnewaska Mountain Houses. For a view of the bar in the Wine Cellar, click link to left.


Lake Awosting is home to the Mid Atlantic Music Camp. The same location previously housed a yoga camp.


New beach is created at Lake Awosting (site of present-day beach).


Overnight camping permitted near Awosting beach.


Awosting Park (5,000 acres) officially opened. Access provided by the Lake Minnewaska entrance gate. A special area is reserved for self-contained camper trailers.


The Ellenville Journal reports dismissal of slander and libel suit brought by Phillips against Alfred Fletcher Smiley.


The State of New York announces plans to purchase 6725 acres surrounding Lake Awosting from, Phillips with $1.5 million of state and federal Land and Water Conservation Funds. Initially, the State had offered to purchase the entire property, but Phillips retains 2985 acres surrounding Lake Minnewaska and including the hotels, ski area and golf course.


Ski Minne receives shipment of structural steel for construction of a new double chair lift.


The Nature Conservancy and The State of New York conclude the purchase of the 6725 acres around Awosting. Minnewaska State Park is born.


Cliff House abandoned due to upkeep costs and state of disrepair.


Cross-country skiing begins this season or the season prior.


As reported in the Times Herald Record, Phillips is in debt for $750,000 with threat of foreclosure.


Phillips given 14 months for reorganization to prevent foreclosure and becomes "debtor in possession".


Judge signs order permitting bank foreclosure for $800,000 in bank debt; total $1.7 million.


Auction of Minnewaska diverted by State's offer to purchase 1,379 acres of Phillips' remaining 2600 acres for $1.8 million. Minnewaska State Park expands and the State acquires a land easement on 239 acres including Lake Minnewaska and the golf course.


May have been the last season for alpine skiing.


Cliff House and a five-room house across from Ski Minne destroyed by fire. Fire may have been started by vandals in the unsecured buildings. Cliff House was uninsured. Click here for a picture of the Cliff House while it was burning, click here for an article about the fire.


Ulster County Planning Board recommends Minnewaska to Marriott Corp. as a potential investment.


Marriott asks Ulster County to buy 375 acres of the Minnewaska site for $1.5 million so that Marriott can lease it from the County for a $45 million resort operation to include: 400-room resort hotel, 300 condominiums, 18-hole golf course, and various other recreational facilities.


Wildmere closes. Newspaper article gives close date of 11/4/79. Click here for that article.


Furniture from Wildmere auctioned.


Phillips enters into partnership agreement with Marriott Corp. involving Marriott's purchase of the property and operation of a resort based on the above plan.


Fire destroys the Ski Minne restaurant.


DEC report approves hotel plan and 50 condominium units, which could be increased if Marriott can prove adequate ground water. Water Supply Application, State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit, DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) all filed, but not yet reviewed.


DEC decision challenged by a consortium of environmental groups who disapprove of the Marriott - Phillips plan. Opponents include Citizens to Save Minnewaska, Catskill Center for Conservation, Friends of Minnewaska, The Sierra Club, Scenic Hudson, the National Audubon Society, Sloop Clearwater, Appalachian Mountain Club, et al.


More contents of hotels and miscellaneous property sold.


Phillips meets with Parks Commissioner Nash Castro and Ken Krieger, Superintendent of the Palisades Region of OPRHP (Office of Parks, Recreation* and Historic Preservation), to suggest a plan for condominiums and a fitness inn with the State having development rights except for the inn and a four-season day park. State rejects.


Marriott deal dead.


Court gives Phillips 90 days to consummate an agreement on the property.


Minnewaska expands wilderness campground with 50 sites and 50 more planned. Tent platforms are built.


Castro, The Nature Conservancy, the Open Space Institute, and Ken Phillips Sr. agree on a deal for State acquisition, but finances are not decided.


Ken Phillips, jr. meets with possible backer Zuckerman and Knickerbocker Associates of "Canyon Ranch" fitness spa.


Time runs out on Minnewaska property; property to be auctioned within the following year. State offers $3 million for land.


State initiates eminent domain proceedings.


Eminent domain public hearing


Second eminent domain public hearing.


Third eminent domain public hearing.


Wildmere destroyed by fire.


End public review period and closing of eminent domain record.


Phillips sues the State of New York for violation of his 1st, 5th, and 14th Amendment rights. The case is dismissed.


State buys Minnewaska property for $3 million. Phillips gets a life lease on his personal home above Lake Minnewaska. A Draft Master Plan for the property is started.


Minnewaska State Park is declared Minnewaska State Park Preserve (MSPP) under Article 20 of New York State Parks, Recreation Historic Preservation Law.


Ellenville Village officials vote to sell 4,632 acres adjacent to MSPP to the Open Space Institute (OSI) for $3,850,000. OSI must complete the purchase within 3 years. OSI plans to sell the property to the State of New York to be administered by PIPC as part of MSPP.

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