History

Shawanga Lodge was a Catskill hotel which opened in 1921 and closed in 1972. Abraham Dan (aka Danashevski), who previously owned the Morningside Hotel in Hurleyville, now a park next to Morningside lake in Hurleyville NY, purchased the hotel from DG Carpenter in 1920. DG Carpenter excluded Jewish patrons as shown in his 1920 brochure. In 1921 Abraham Dan and Barnet Coopersmith reopened the hotel as a Kosher style hotel.

Abraham Dan (his grandson had the same name) was born in Russia in 1875. He married Lena, also from Russia, in 1888 and in 1890 immigrated to the United States and lived in Rutherford NJ. His occupation is listed as a plumber. On Friday, September 30 1921, the same year he bought Shawanga, he hung himself after breakfast in a closet in the playhouse. His wife Lena found him. It is not known who on the Dan side ran the hotel after he died. Abraham had three children with Mae being the oldest, then Julius and Sam, who was born in 1901. Julius never was active in the hotel, Mae was the cashier and Sam went to NYU law and for some time had a law practice and the hotel. He shortly gave up law and focused on the hotel.

On November 22 1926 (see image on left), the main building burned to the ground. A spark from a chimney ignited the roof. The hotel operated for a few years with just the remaining external cottages and casino until a new building was constructed. The casino was used to serve meals and entertainment because the dining room was in the destroyed main building. The earliest known date of the hotel with the new main building was 1933. The new main building remained until the hotel closed in 1972. Abraham Dan left the hotel to his three children, Julius, Sam and Mae Dan after he died. Mae Dan married Ed Atlass and the three (Sam, Ed and Julius) bought out Mr. Coopersmith (year unknown). They operated the hotel with Julius Dan being a silent partner for over 35 years. In the 1950's, Julius' son, Abraham 'Abby' Dan and Ed Atlass' son Alvin became involved in the hotel business.

Ed Atlass and Sam Dan had not modernized the hotel during the 40's and 50's and it had catered to a singles crowd. Though some work was done in the early 50's; an amphitheater was built, the playhouse was expanded and Holiday Inn was built (we had the name first), it was not enough. In the winter of 1957, the hotel was in need of modernization. Other hotels had indoor pools, modern rooms and proper nightclubs. The lobby was expanded, the space below, was dug out to make a lower lobby, air conditioning added, a day camp was built, a new external building called Panorama was added and the lake was expanded. The main building's rooms unfortunately remained the same. In the early 1960's Ed and Sam died, Abby Dan (the grandson) and Alvin Atlass took over operation of the hotel and Mae Dan remained working as the head cashier and bookkeeper until the hotel closed.

Post 1957, the hotel operated as a family resort. The main building needed a lot of work and could only operate during the summer. The cottages were built on cinder blocks above ground and had above ground piping and received chlorinated water from the lake. The main building still had bathrooms on the floor and shared (semi-private) rooms. Only public spaces were heated and the walls above the lobby were not insulated. The 1957 renovation was needed but not enough and should have been done sooner, dad used to tell me that they had a big problem and that in even though a lot of work was done in 1958, they were too far behind. The rooms in Panorama and Holiday Inn had air conditioning/cooling and heat but were not connected to the main building. The rooms in the main building were mostly small and most had air conditioning (window AC). There were three types of rooms in the main building, private baths, semi-private where two rooms shared a bath and rooms with bath on the floor (mostly 3rd floor). The corner rooms were the largesti and all were dated.

In 1972 Alvin Atlass decided to leave the hotel business. They tried to sell the hotel and had a buyer with a deposit who ended up backing out. It was too much risk for Abby Dan to run the hotel alone. At the start of each season, they needed to take a bank loan in order to open the hotel. This loan would be paid off over the summer season. This meant that one really bad summer would bankrupt the hotel. In Sept of 1972 with no buyer, the hotel went bankrupt. It was sold at auction. Abby Dan tried to help the new owner open for the 1973 season but the new owner started too late and the hotel did not open for the '73 summer season. In September of 1973 the hotel burned in a suspicious fire. It was noted that the water tower which operated the sprinkler system was drained.

In 1973 Abby started working at the DeVille, that hotel, which though behind the times still had a wing with modern rooms an indoor pool and a beautifull nightclub. But the DeVille, formally the Nemerson, was an uninspiring Hotel. The new wing was in the back of the hotel with rooms facing the maintenance building or ugly cottages, no view. The dining room and nightclub were separate buildings connected by quickly fabricated walkways. I recall looking out the window as we passed the Raleigh headed to the DeVille for the first time, wow what a hotel! The Raleigh was an impressive hotel in 1973 with all modern rooms, ice rink, a beautiful nightclub and an amazing indoor pool. Little did I know that dad and I would both work there, he was there for 30 years, me, just for summers until '84.

Such a shame, there was so much history lost in that building, I only realized later on the meaning of the loss. The architecture, the memories... A small example is the piano and wooden pinball machine sitting in the basement between the lower lobby and the workshop. The piano is in a picture on the front porch in the 30's, I wonder where the pinball machine was. A horse drawn sled under the nightclub that was used in the 20's. All gone. Perhaps this web site can preserve some history.
The original main building Built in the early 1900's, burned in 1926. Construction of Catskill hotels in the days before sprinkler systems and modern heating systems consisted of many separate buildings built at a distance. Buildings often burned. With many buildings, it was not a total loss. The DeVille/Nemerson, is a perect example. The main bulding, dining room and nightclub were separate buildings.
Main building rebuilt 1933 The main building newly rebuillt in 1933, the outdoor pool was built in 1934. To the right, was the bowling alley, later made into guest rooms. At the the time it was a very modern buidling with a sprinker system. That was a big deal at the time becuase of the number of fires that hotels had in the early 1900's. I recall in the 60's a fire being put out by the sprinkelers in a maids closet. With no AC at the time, the emphasis was on outdoor space. Notice the open and enclosed decks.
Main building 1960s In 1958 the lobby was expanded and modernized. Panorama was built to the left and a day camp for kids was built. Also the lower lobby was dug out from the crawl space beneath the lobby and dining room. We used to go up into the cupola often. This buidling had so many nooks and crannies, it was a fun fun place to explore on rainy days.
Overview of grounds: The hotel was on about 350 (some brochures say 250 and later ones say 350) acres and had about 230 rooms in 1972. In 1972, there was the main buidling which housed the office, kitchen, dining room, lobby, lower lobby, canteen (snacks), staff/children’s dining room. To the right was a guest house called Holiday Inn, then were rows of guest cottages. In front of Holiday Inn and the cottages was the outdoor pool, paddle ball, shuffle board and baketball/volleyball courts and then 6 clay tennis courts. Past the tennis courts was the adult softball field. Behind the guest cottages were cottages for family and some staff. My grandmother, aunt and my family had three cottages with one connected porch. My Uncle Elliot had a mobile home up the hill behind ours. There was a cottage to our right and then the Atlas’ had a a very small house. Further along the dirt road, there was woods on the left and guest cottages way on the right. At the end of the dirt road and slightly to the right was the adult sofball field. On the left, tucked into the woods, was Aunt May’s house. Her place was very nice. Continuing to the left and up the dirt road took you to the kids camp pool on the left at the crest of the hill. Just below was a large open flat area with the big and little kids camp houses. There was a kids softball field, swings, sandboxes and the two camper buildings. The big kids camp building had an arts and craft room on the left, bathrooms in the middle and an open area with a broken piano and cubbies on the right. Below the camp was the lake.

To the left of the main building was the guest house Panorama, built in 1958. Behind Panorama was a stone garage built sometime before 1910. To the left of Panorama and down the Hill (we used to sled on that hill in the winter) was the amphitheater and playhouse (aka casino). This is where the shows were.

Behind the main building and to the left were the staff houses, called West Point and Brooklyn. They were named after colleges. Directly behind the main building was a liquor storage, which looked like a medieval door to a cave into the mountain. It was a big bulky door with bars on the small window. Also behind the main building was the water tower and Clarence 'the caretakers' cottage underneath the tower. During the winter, Clarance watched over the hotel. To the left of Clarence’s cottage was a pump house that we called sleeping beauty. No idea why, the older kids just told us the name. You could climb the ladder and look through the opening and barely see in the darkness the water swishing. You could hear and feel the movements of the water and pump. The pump house pumped water into the tower and I think also into pipes heading towards the main building. The pipes from the pump house to the main building would ‘jump’ with each turn of the reciprocating pump. We used to stand on the pipes.

Floor plan of lobby before renovaion Please See Album "Structures, Floor Plans" for full size picture.
New Lobby after renovation of 1958 Please See Album "Structures, Floor Plans" for full size picture. Notice that the dining room was expanded, teen dining room added, and a hallway was made to the side entrance
Lower Lobby after renovation of 1958 Please See Album "Structures, Floor Plans" for full size picture. The lower lobby was cut out of dirt basement. There were two sections that remained dirt and not a public space. Below kitchen and the space at the top left. There were so many interesting 'artifacts' stored in the dirt space. We would rummage through the 'things' often.
Nightclub & Amphitheater The original nightclub was the building on the right with the darker roof. It was expanded in the early 50's on the left where the deck was. They built over an old horse drawn sled that remained, now stuck, under this building. In the winter we would go sledding down the hill on the right and dad would pull us back to the top in his Willy's Jeep. The road on the left where the curve is would also go around back past the dump old horse stables and yok quarters.
Ranch House Was once called the bachelors house for single men which slept six. The rooms were pretty big but the floors were linoleum. The Raleigh also had a ranch house.
Holiday Inn Build in the early 50's and named from a popular movie from the time. It had rooms similar to Panorama, but a little smaller. The building was located to the right of the main building and had a view of the pool.
Panorama Build in 1958, Panorama had the nicest and largest rooms. It was located to the left of the main building and had a spectacular view. I have one of those blue chairs.
Room in Panorama These were the nicest rooms
The Grotto Rock structure, not sure when it was built but there were pictures of it in the early 1900's
Skytop It was actually a reservoir for the cottages. Lake water was pumped into the rock stucture at the base. The upper levels had a nice view, though the upper levels had burned more than once from careless smokers and was later just a base which was still a nice place to go to.
Playhouse The original playhouse. The playhouse remained somewhat the same through the later years. In the early 50's, the melody lounge was added on the left, which in this picture is a deck.
Playhouse On the inside. Looked like in the 70's also. This is before the melody lounge was added.
Playhouse Bar This was the bar at the playhouse. After the melody lounge and melody bar were built, this became the playhouse coffeshop. It looked just like this in the 70's. Beautiful hard pine bar and floor.
Melody Bar Build in the 50's and adjacent to the melody lounge. The latin band played in the melody lounge
Melody Lounge Built in the 50's where the deck was on the playhouse. The photographer's is standing in the playhouse
StartLite Theater Built in the 50's. On nice nights, shows would be performed here. As kids, the camp would sometime put on skits here. I never liked doing the skits.
Guest house and start of cottage row In the 20's this was a bowling alley. Probably converted to a guest house after the fire of 1926. This building was moved behind the main bulding in the early 50's and Holiday Inn was built in this spot.
Lobby How it looked after 1958, the wall with the square windows was the door to the main dining room. To the left is the door to the teen dining room. The columns are supports where the old lobby ended. The wall to the right of the dining room entrace is the lobby bar.
Lower Lobby Larger part of the lower lobby. Through those doors was the a room that had the canteen (coffee shop) pinball machines, jukebox, guest laundry, a dance room and a teen room. Some rock bands played in this room.
Outdoor Pool Pool was built in 1934, had to be scraped and re-plastered every spring. Lot of work.
Lake Natural spring lake that was enlarged in the 50's on top of the mountain
Athletics Basketball, volleyball, hand ball/paddle ball and tennis courts
Wishing well Really just a water fountain with very low pressure
Family Cottage Family cottages were three in a row with a connecting porch.
Dad's Jeep Dad and Tony gave us rides in this jeep. The reason I later had a red jeep. He used this jeep to service around the lake, septic, skytp, etc.
Kids day camp Kids spent the day at camp, the far building is the little kids camp. There was also a nursery near the main building.
Kids pool The kids pool was behind the big kids camp house. Next to the pool were girls and boys changing rooms. The dressing rooms were made from some type of pressed board and slats of wood over the grass for a floor. No roof. There was a little peephole to the girls side.
Rodney Dangerfield Handwritten note saying he is available
Room keys The middle key is for room 135 in the main building