Mohonk Mountain House

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Lake Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk Mountain House 2011 View of Mohonk Guest Rooms from One Hiking Trail FRD 3205.jpg
Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk Mountain House is located in New York
Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk Mountain House is located in the US
Mohonk Mountain House
Location New Paltz, New York
Coordinates 41°46′07″N 74°09′20″W / 41.76861°N 74.15556°W / 41.76861; -74.15556Coordinates: 41°46′07″N 74°09′20″W / 41.76861°N 74.15556°W / 41.76861; -74.15556
Built 1869–1910
Architect Napoleon Le Brun
James Ware
NRHP Reference # 73001280
Significant dates
Added to NRHP July 16, 1973[1]
Designated NHL June 24, 1986 [2]

The Mohonk Mountain House, also known as Lake Mohonk Mountain House, is a historic American resort hotel located on the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, New York. Its prominent location in the town of New Paltz, New York is just beyond the southern border of the Catskill Mountains, west of the Hudson River. Mohonk Mountain House is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[3]


The National Historic Landmark Program's "Statement of Significance", as of the site's historic landmark designation on June 24, 1986, states:

Begun in the 1870s as a small resort for family and friends by the Smiley brothers, it became so popular that it was enlarged many times. Because of the Smileys' love of the outdoor life, the area around the hotel was treated as an integral part of the attractions of the resort. Much of this area was planned as an experiment in conservation of the natural environment, and as an educational tool for the study of botany, geology, and outdoor living.[2]

The historic resort is located on the shore of Lake Mohonk, which is half of a mile (800 m) long and 60 feet (18 m) deep. The main structure, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986,[2] was built by Quaker twin brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley between 1869 and 1910.[4]

The property has been owned and operated by descendants of the Smiley brothers since 1869. The Smiley brothers envisioned a peaceful retreat where people could enjoy the beauty of nature in a truly spectacular setting. From its earliest days, the resort has maintained values of stewardship, reflection, and renewal.

From 1883 to 1916, annual conferences took place at Mohonk Mountain House, sponsored by Albert Smiley, to improve the living standards of Native American Indian populations.[5][6][7] These meetings brought together government representatives of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the House and Senate committees on Indian Affairs, as well as educators, philanthropists, and Indian leaders to discuss the formulation of policy. The 22,000 records from the 34 conference reports are now at the library of Haverford College for researchers and students of American history.[8]

The hotel hosted the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration between 1895 and 1916,[9] which was instrumental in creating the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.[10] Those conference papers were donated by the Smiley Family to Swarthmore College for future research.[9]

The house was given a National Historic Landmark designation in 1986, and a United Nations Environment Programme Award in 1994 in honor of "125 years of stewardship". According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, "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."[11] In the 21st century, the resort also retains an emphasis on eco-friendly, environmentally green practices.[12][13]


Mohonk Mountain House has 259 guest rooms, including 28 tower rooms, an indoor pool and spa, and an outdoor ice-skating rink for winter use. The picturesque setting of the resort on the lake was featured in a print by Currier & Ives.

The property consists of 1,325 acres (536 ha), and much of it is landscaped with meadows and gardens. It adjoins the Mohonk Preserve, which is crisscrossed by 85 miles (140 km) of hiking trails and carriage roads. The Smileys conveyed the majority of their property to the preserve, and have received recognition for the stewardship of their land and their early environmental awareness.

Hiking trail

Notable guests[edit]

Water fountain

The Mohonk Mountain House has hosted many famous visitors including industrialist John D. Rockefeller, naturalist John Burroughs, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester A. Arthur, and Bill Clinton.[14][15] Guests have also included former First Lady Julia Grant, author Thomas Mann, and religious leaders such as Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, Reverend Ralph W. Sockman, Reverend Francis Edward Clark.[16] `Abdu'l-Bahá, the eldest son of Bahá'í Faith founder Bahá'u'lláh, stayed there in 1912 during the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration as part of his journeys to the West.[17]

In popular culture[edit]

The resort was the setting of the film, The Road to Wellville (1994), starring Anthony Hopkins and Matthew Broderick.[18]


Seen from Skytop observation tower

Mohonk Mountain House has received dozens of awards from magazines and news outlets.[19] Condé Nast Traveler has given it nine awards since 2008, including "Number One Resort Spa in the United States" (2013).[20] Travel + Leisure has given the resort seven awards since 2009, including "Number Two Hotel Spa in the United States" (2013)[21] and "Number Six Hotel Spa in the World" (2013).[22]

Mohonk has received numerous and repeated awards from spa magazines, including Spafinder Wellness, Organic Spa Magazine, Spas of America, and Spa.[19] Fodor's listed it as one of "10 Best Spa Trips" for 2012,[23] and in 2010 named it as one of 10 Best Hotels for Kids and Families.[24] In 2011, Every Day with Rachael Ray listed Mohonk as one of "Our Eight Favorite Resorts".[25] The resort has received awards from Wine Spectator Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and it has also garnered numerous awards and commendations for being green and eco-friendly.[19]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c "Lake Mohonk Mountain House". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-11. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Mohonk Mountain House, a Historic Hotels of America member". Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ Turkel, Stanley. "Hotel History: Mohonk Mountain House (1869), New Paltz, New York". 
  5. ^ Powers, Lilian D. Report of the Thirty-First Annual Annual Lake Mohonk Conference on the Indian and Other Dependent Peoples, Volume 30. Lake Mohonk Conference on the Indian and Other Dependent Peoples, 1913. Preface.
  6. ^ Burgess, Larry (1972). The Lake Mohonk Conferences on the Indian, 1883-1916 (PhD). Claremont. 
  7. ^ Helleson, Linda Louise (1974). The Lake Mohonk conferences of the Friends of the Indian, 1883-1916 (PhD). University of Denver. 
  8. ^ "Haverford College Library Special Collections: Smiley Family Papers, 1885-1983 bulk 1885-1930" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration Records, 1895-1937". Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  10. ^ Report of the Annual Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration, Volume 20, Part 1914. Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration, 1914.
  11. ^ Mohonk Mountain House – History. Historic Hotels of America. National Trust for Historic Preservation.
  12. ^ "A New York State Green Resort: A Leader in Environmental Stewardship".
  13. ^ "An Eco-Friendly Upstate New York Spa: Making Environmental Stewardship a Priority".
  14. ^ Mitchell, Paula Ann."DESTINATIONS: Mohonk Mountain House a castle like no other". Daily Freeman. January 27, 2013.
  15. ^ "Mohonk marks 145 years in 2014". Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce. January 30, 2014.
  16. ^ "Resolution J24-2009: Congratulating the Mohonk Mountain House upon the occasion of celebrating its 140th Anniversary". New York State Legislature. 13 January 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  17. ^ Report of the annual Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration. Lake Mohonk: Harvard University. 1912. pp. 42–44. 
  18. ^ "Filming locations for The Road to Wellville". IMDb. 
  19. ^ a b c Mohonk Mountain House Awards.
  20. ^ "Top 10 Spas in the U.S.". Condé Nast Traveler. February 2013.
  21. ^ "Best Hotel Spas in the United States". Travel + Leisure. 2013.
  22. ^ "Top 10 Hotel Spas in the World". Travel + Leisure. 2013.
  23. ^ "10 Best Spa Trips for 2012". Fodor's. February 27, 2012.
  24. ^ "Gold Awards 2010: Best Hotels for Kids and Families". Fodor's. 2010.
  25. ^ "Our Eight Favorite Resorts". Every Day with Rachael Ray. April 2011.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]