Catskills Hotel inspired by ‘Dirty Dancing’ suffers devastating fire

The Grossinger’s Catskill resort hotel was once the crown jewel of the borscht, an alpine retreat whose summer community has welcomed generations of New Yorkers and was the inspiration for the movie “Dirty Dancing.” “in 1987.

On Tuesday, one of the property’s main buildings was demolished, after a devastating fire took its toll after decades of devastation and destruction.

News of the fire in the remote location, which had been empty for many years, was Announcement on Facebook on Wednesday by the Liberty Fire Department in Liberty, NY, the tiny Catskills town closest to the resort. The ministry said a plume of smoke from the blaze was visible for several miles across the wooded hilly area.

The fire engulfed a three-and-a-half-story wooden building deep within the grounds of the former resort, behind a pile of concrete and dense trees obstructing vehicle access to the site, said Mark Johnstone, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services. Liberty Fire, said in the statement.

He said: “The first unit to arrive had to cut through a gate to enter the roadway to get to the fire station. “Firefighters were also hampered by overgrown properties and concrete roadblocks making it impossible for equipment to quickly return.”

He said the fire engines were forced to stop about 1,000 feet from the blaze. Five-inch-thick hoses were threaded through the grass and vines up to the burning building – a white plank house with a half-collapsed balcony and an empty hot tub overturned on its side.

Many other structures on the resort grounds were demolished. And it’s unclear what the burned building was used for during Grossinger’s heyday, when it was one of dozens of Catskills hotels that made up a vibrant holiday scene for a predominantly Jewish clientele.

Grossinger is one of the the most prominent resorts in that scene, colloquially known as the borscht belt. It thrived in the early and mid-20th century, at a time when Jews were unwelcome in many areas of American life, including resorts, golf clubs, and Ivy universities. League.

In the 1960s, the resort consisted of 36 buildings on 1,200 acres and could accommodate 1,400 guests, according to obituary of 1964 by the man who ran it in its glory days, Harry Grossinger.

Its amenities include a golf course, a lake, a ski slope, a tennis court, and Olympic-sized indoor and outdoor pools. The resort also has its own post office and small airportwhich is also in ruins today.

At its height, Grossinger was frequented by a number of names in bold, not all of which were Jewish.

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, and her fourth husband, celebrated their wedding on its grounds in 1959. Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller is known to have vacationed there, as did Francis Spellman, who served served for three decades as the powerful Roman Catholic archbishop of New York. Nine world champion boxers also train at its sports facilities, including Rocky Marciano, the undefeated heavyweight champion of the 1950s.

But the borscht belt declined in the second half of the 20th century. Widespread anti-Semitism gave Jews greater access to public accommodations and air travel made holiday sites Remote care becomes more accessible to middle-class families. Air conditioners make the city’s summer heat less oppressive, and the allure of a jungle resort colony is less obvious.

Eleanor Bergstein, the screenwriter of “Dirty Dancing,” spoke frequently in interviews about her childhood vacations with Grossinger and their impact on the film, where Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze had approx. time of their lives – she was a teenager on vacation and he was her dance instructor – at Kellerman’s resort.

In an event in 2021 at the Jewish History Center, Ms. Bergstein recalls discovering the joys of dancing at Grossinger’s while her parents enjoyed the resort’s amenities and socialized at its regular champagne hours. All of that will be included in the movie.

“My parents played golf and I only went to the ballroom when I was a little girl,” she said. “On Thursday night’s champagne time, I’ll go out and do all this and all that.”

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