Bear Mountain Inn

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Bear Mountain Inn
Bear Mountain Inn after reconstruction.jpg
East elevation and south profile, after renovation project
Bear Mountain Inn is located in New York
Bear Mountain Inn
Bear Mountain Inn is located in the US
Bear Mountain Inn
Location Seven Lakes Drive, Bear Mountain, New York
Coordinates 41°18′47″N 73°59′25″W / 41.31306°N 73.99028°W / 41.31306; -73.99028Coordinates: 41°18′47″N 73°59′25″W / 41.31306°N 73.99028°W / 41.31306; -73.99028
Built 1915
Architect Tooker and Marsh
Architectural style Rustic
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP September 20, 2002

The Bear Mountain Inn is a 1915 hotel and restaurant owned by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and located on Route 9W at the northern end of Seven Lakes Drive, just south of the Bear Mountain Bridge in Rockland County, New York. It is now called the Bear Mountain Inn & Conference Center. As of fall 2011, the first floor is now open and features the 1915 Cafe and Bear Mountain Trading Company gift store. Renovation of the upper levels was finished in April 2012.

It was added to The National Register of Historic Places on September 20, 2002.[1]


The building has been called "among the earliest examples of a monumental rustic park lodge of a type that became common in state and national parks".[2] Construction required two years at a cost variously reported as $100,000 and $150,000. It was designed by the New York City firm of Tooker & Marsh, in a style strongly influenced by the Adirondack Great Camps.

Stone used in the foundations, wall facades and the two remarkably large fireplaces, was obtained from old walls on the properties acquired for Bear Mountain State Park. Chestnut timber used for framing, certain trim, siding and floor-covering, was also obtained from local parklands and milled on site. Despite appearances to the contrary, the building's basic framework is constructed of steel.

The 1915 cellar contained an electric lighting plant that was also planned to furnish power for an escalator from the excursion boat landing to the plateau on which the inn stands. The ground floor included a “luncheon counter” while on the second floor veranda, “moderately priced Table d'hote” meals were sold. The main dining room offered “service equal to any metropolitan restaurant.” According to a New York Times article published in June 1915, “There are no windows or doors. When cool weather comes, the upper floor is to be inclosed [sic] in glass.” [1]

In 1922-23 the building became a year-round facility with steam heat and enclosed windows. The aim was in part to make it a center for winter sports. Between the 1930s and 1980s changes to the floor plan were made and some historic details and decorative motifs were concealed or lost, and much of the original, rustic furniture was removed. A current renovation aims to restore some of these details.

When it became used for overnight accommodations, the third floor was initially remodeled as a dormitory. Later, individual guest rooms were installed with shared bath facilities. In 1975, individual bathrooms were installed as part of a larger renovation.[3]

At various times during the 1930s and 40s, the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team, the New York Giants football team and the New York Knickerbockers basketball team made the inn and adjacent athletic facilities their training headquarters. Also during this period, entertainment headliners included Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, and some believe[weasel words] Kate Smith wrote her 1931 theme song “When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain” while at the inn.[4] If so, the mountain in question might be Anthony's Nose which lies to the east across the Hudson River.

Madame Chiang Kai-shek spent two weeks “in seclusion” at one of the outlying lodges of the Bear Mountain Inn in the spring of 1943, meeting with Wendell L. Willkie there on April 25 before proceeding to the White House for a brief stay.[5]

Following the outbreak of World War II, the park commission gave up direct management of the hotel and it was offered as a concession. [2] Terminal Operating Corp. operated the hotel from 1941 until 1965, when it was taken over by Restaurant Associates Inc. [3] As of 1991, ARA Leisure Services operated the inn. A similar contract was announced in December 2008 with Guest Services Inc. of Fairfax, Virginia. [4]

Renovation project[edit]

On February 18, 2012 the Bear Mountain reopened, after a six-year closure.[6]

A public lounge area which had included the building's iconic second-floor fireplace has been reconfigured as a restaurant and the fireplace is no longer accessible to casual visitors. As was the case prior to the renovations, most of the second floor remains devoted to a catering operation that is inaccessible to the public.

A $12 million renovation by H3. HardyCorp, to restore the inn's “original rustic splendor” announced by the park commission in 2005, would require closing the building to the public for 18 months. [5] [6] [7]

Bear Mountain Inn had been closed for renovations since about 2005. Media reports on this topic from time to time were somewhat contradictory. A brief note in the New York Times on Nov. 29, 2009, concerned a high-end charity fund-rasing event for the project, and said renovation was to begin in 2010.[8].

Reports since then have put the expected cost across a fairly wide range, while accounts of certain other details have also varied. On April, 2009, a comparatively detailed report in a local Orange County media outlet put costs at $15 million, and also indicating work had been ongoing.[9].


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "National Register of Historic Places: Bear Mountain Inn, Bear Mountain, Rockland County, New York" (Applet). National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior. October 1990. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  3. ^ "National Register of Historic Places: Bear Mountain Inn, Bear Mountain, Rockland County, New York" (Applet). National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior. October 1990. p. 7. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  4. ^ Images of America: Bear Mt. Inn, R. Coffey, pg. 34. See also, Images of America: New York's Palisades Interstate Park, Gottlock, pg. 38
  5. ^ "Mme. Chiang took the 'Dodger Trail'; her two weeks of seclusion were spent where the team did spring training". NYT. 1943-11-05. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  6. ^

Sources currently include various historical and recent NYT articles, PIPC press release, local press accounts and [10] [11]

External links[edit]