Shawanga Lodge, atop the Shawangunk mountain range, was a Catskill hotel, built in 1887 by DG Carpenter. Carpenter, the owner, excluded Jewish patrons, as shown in his 1920 brochure. In 1920 Abraham Dan (aka Danashevski), not to be confused with his grandson Abby/Abraham Dan, sold the Morningside Hotel in Hurleyville NY and purchased Shawanga Lodge with Barnet Coopersmith. The hotel reopened as a Kosher style hotel. The Morningside hotel operated until it burned the in the 40's and is now a park next to Morningside lake. Shawanga Lodge under the ownership of Dan and Coopersmith and later Dan and Atlass operated from 1921 to 1972.
Abraham Dan was born in Postov Russia in 1876. He married Hester Lena Soloway (grandma Dan March 25 1878-May 3 1971), also from Russia, in 1898 and in 1890 immigrated to the United States and lived in Rutherford NJ. He was a student of the bible. At some point, he and Max Goldtein formed a real estate and plumbing business. His occupation is listed as a plumber in is imigration records. In 1906 Abraham and Max purchased a boarding house, later called the Morningside Hotel. Sam Dan recalls seeing literature from the previous owner stating no dogs or Jews allowed. The boarding house required Abraham to keep putting in money. He and Max sold all but one of their real estate investments and in the Panic of 1907 could not sell their last building. They feared loosing everything. Eventually the boarding house becamee the Morningside Hotel and was considered "the finest Kosher hotel" in the Catskills. In 1920 Dan and Goldstein parted ways over a disagreement. Abraham Dan bought Shawanga Lodge and opened for the summer season in 1921.
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. Abraham had three children with Mae (Mamie Dan June 26 1899-2/26/1990) being the oldest, then Julius (May 22, 1901-May 22 1967) and Sam (June 27, 1903-Oct 3, 1966). Julius never was active in the hotel, he was an Ophthalmologist. Mae was the cashier and Sam went to NYU law and for some time had a law practice and the hotel. Sam was 18 when he took on the responibilities of running a hotel with Coopersmith. He was going to go to engineering school but the with the riggors of running a hotel, he went to law school instead. He tried to practice law and run the hotel in the summer, but ended up leaving law for the hotel. I recall Aunt Mae being so kind to us kids. I don't remember Sam Dan but I do remember grandma Dan. She would sit in the lobby, my mother, Barbara, said the was a chair in he lobby wih a sign over it that said "grandma Dan". It as her chair.
In 1972 Alvin Atlass decided to leave the hotel business. The previous year, summer of 1971, he started going to Florida every so often for long weekends to tend to his hardware business. He was mostly at the hotel though. 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 and was sold at auction. Uncle Alvin did tell Abby later on that he regretted not being in the hotel business. 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.
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.
The bowling alley was replaced by Holiday Inn. I will need to make some revisions, as this conversion occured before the 1926 fire. I had assumed that they added the rooms with the loss of the main building. The buidling became a staff house when Holdiay Inn was build. Probably the one behind the main building further to the left.