Mohonk Mountain House

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Discover the Mohonk Mountain House, set on 1,200 acres, it is a Victorian castle with fanciful turrets, local stone, and gabled frame constructions.

Mohonk Mountain House, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 1991, dates back to 1869.


Mohonk Mountain House - The Accidental Hotelier

Watch Mohonk Mountain House's Peter Bidowski talk anout the founding of the resort more than a century ago by the Smiley family. He'll also share some remarkable facts about the earliest days of this fabulous historic destination.


Mohonk Mountain House was constructed at a time when the United States was defined by great economic prosperity, industrial expansion, and significant social reform. Much as one sees Lake Mohonk today, Alfred H. Smiley saw it in 1869 when he visited the Shawangunks on a picnic outing. He and his twin brother Albert envisioned a peaceful retreat where people could enjoy the beauty of nature in a truly spectacular setting. Albert purchased the property from John F. Stokes and the brothers eventually turned the ten-room inn and tavern into the grand house it is today, with gracious accommodations for up to 500 guests. People from all walks of life have been attracted to Mohonk, including naturalist John Burroughs, religious leaders Abdul Baha Abbas, Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, and Reverend Ralph W. Sockman, industrialist Andrew Carnegie and four Presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Chester A. Arthur. Stewardship, reflection, and renewal have been hallmarks of Mohonk Mountain House since its earliest days. At the turn of the 19th century, the Smiley family hosted the Lake Mohonk Conference of Friends of the Indian and the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration.

Daniel and Effie Smiley guided Mohonk into the 20th century. The stewardship of the Smiley family, including members who founded Mohonk Mountain House and those who continue to maintain it, received exceptional recognition on December 9, 1986, when Mohonk was officially named a National Historic Landmark. This distinction encompassed not only the Mountain House, but also 83 other Mohonk buildings of historic significance and the surrounding 7,800 acres of developed and undeveloped land. In 1994, the Smiley family and Mountain House staff received an award from the United Nations Environment Programme in honor of "125 years of stewardship" on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Mohonk Mountain House. 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. Still run by the Smiley family, Mohonk Mountain House is an unspoiled resort, offering classical music concerts and Afternoon Tea and Cookies. The walking trails are off-limits to motor vehicles, and signs along the entrance road read: "Slowly and Quietly, Please." Apt advice for such a scenic retreat.

  • About the Location +

    Mohonk Mountain House is located in the Shawangunk Mountains, which are considered by many to be among the most tranquil destinations in all of New York. When Albert K. Smiley first purchased the land surrounding the Mohonk Mountain House, he set about developing an intricate system of hiking trails and carriage roads that many others could enjoy. Now extending for some 85 miles, these scenic pathways are still in use today. They guide guests throughout the grounds to such renowned locations like Copes Lookout and Eagle Cliff Road. But Smiley and his talented teams of landscape architects also set about crafting a series of brilliant English-style gardens that were popular throughout the Western world during the mid-19th century.

    Albert K. Smiley and his family maintained a diligent belief in the splendor of nature, which led to acquisition of thousands of acres of the surrounding countryside. Ardent conservationists, the Smileys yearned to preserve the area for many future generations to appreciate. The Smileys had acquired so much land by the 1960s that they established the Mohonk Trust, later evolving into the current Mohonk Preserve. Because of the Smileys, Mohonk Mountain House today has access to over 8,000 acres of preserved land, of which 1,200 is directly affiliated with the hotel.

    The Mohonk Preserve features a number of breathtaking outdoor attractions, such as the Labyrinth and its famous Lemon Squeeze. The Labyrinth is one of many popular rock scrambles that visitors have loved since the hotel’s earliest days. For over a century, guests have scaled the faces of these geological formations, creating a rich heritage that persists well into the present. The local countryside is also home to Lake Mohonk, which is a glacier lake that has been fed directly by rainwater for millennia. It extends for nearly a half-mile in length and measures 61 feet at its most deepest point. All sorts of trout reside within this majestic body of water, too, like perch, bass, and pickerel. And more than 125 luxurious summerhouses line the shoreline, many of which harken back to the region’s Gilded Age history.

  • About the Architecture +

    There is no single architectural style reflected in the sections of the Mohonk Mountain House. When looking at the building from north to south, those segments are as follows: the Spa Wing, the Rock Section, the Stone Building, the Central Building (including the Lake Lounge and the Parlor), the Grove Lodge, and the Dining Wing. All of these structures feature an eclectic mixture of design aesthetics that achieve a magical appearance unrivaled throughout the rest of the country.

    The architectural story behind Mohonk Mountain House starts with Albert K. Smiley’s initial trip to the area in the middle of 1869. The young Quaker schoolmaster had been implored by his younger brother, Alfred, to travel west from their native Rhode Island to experience the region’s untouched serenity. Once Albert gazed upon the inherent beauty of Lake Mohonk atop Paltz Point, he knew that he needed to develop the location into the site of a wonderful summer retreat.

    Albert K. Smiley soon purchased a nearby building known as the Stokes Tavern (and its surrounding land) with $28,000, of which half came from a bank loan. Originally only consisting of ten rooms, Smiley began to gradually expand upon the structure exponentially. Within a matter of decades, the structure boasted 300 lavish rooms, outfitted with the finest Victorian-era furniture and décor. By 1893, he had also added on the current Dining Wing, which was then followed by the Central Building some four years later. The final series of initial renovations concluded in 1910, when Albert developed the Dining Room Circle extension.

    It was not until 1990 that the Mohonk Mountain House experienced another extensive renovation project. The Smiley family—then in its fourth generation of ownership—constructed the luxurious Conference House that year. The open-air Pavilion followed a decade later in 2001, as well as the award-winning Spa Wing with its swimming pool and fitness level. The most recent addition to the Mohonk Mountain House was the Grove Lodge, opening for the first time in 2016.

  • Famous Historic Events +

    Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration (1895 – 1916). Albert K. Smiley himself organized the very first meeting, which sought to build global support for international arbitration as well as an international court to preside over these treaties. Originally attended by individuals hand-selected by Smiley, the conferences soon attracted close to 300 people by the outbreak of World War I. These events proved integral in establishing the eventual Permanent Court of Arbitration, which resides in The Hague, Netherlands.

  • Famous Historic Guests +

    John Burroughs, renowned American naturalist active in the U.S. Conservation Movement.

    John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil Company

    Andrew Carnegie, founder of U.S. Steel

    Thomas Mann, renowned German author and recipient of the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature

    Abdul Baha Abbas, famed Baháʼí religious figure active from 1892 to 1921.

    Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, leader of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America

    Reverend Ralph W. Sockman, featured speaker on NBC’s National Radio Pulpit from 1928 to 1962.

    Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States (1877 – 1881)

    Chester A. Arthur, 21st President of the United States (1881 – 1885)

    Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901 -1909)

    William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States (1909 – 1913) and 10th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court

    Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States (1993 – 2001)

  • Film, TV and Media Connections +

    The Stuff (1985)
    The Road to Wellville (1994)

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