Not long ago an old matchbook laying on photographer Pablo Iglesias Maurer’s desk caught his eye. Or rather, it was the postcard-like picture on it, of a resort complex built in the 1960s. It got Pablo wondering how the place looked now, and the answer has led him to make an amazing photo series called Abandoned States.
The picture came with the title How to Run A Successful Golf Course, but when Maurer got to the place, it was clear the owner of Penn Hills Resort didn’t follow that advice. He pointed the camera at the decaying building at roughly the same spot and did a ‘5-decades-after’ shot of the place.
Ever since then, Pablo was hooked. He ordered more 60s postcards from eBay and started going around the country capturing these once beautiful buildings that now stand abandoned only as faint memories of what once was.
“The postcards, have their own haze—the places were never as nice as they look. I often struggle to get the two images to line up, as well. But time blurs the difference, and brings everything into focus.”
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More of the indoor pool at Grossinger’s. The tiled floor was heated, the entire structure air conditioned. Above, beautiful mid-century “sputnik” chandeliers cast a glow on the swimmers below. Below the pool are exercise rooms, a gym, salon and a host of other amenities. The pool has sat vacant since the late 90’s and has fallen beyond repair.
Grossinger’s outdoor pool, olympic sized, built in 1949 at a cost of $400,000 (about $5 million in today’s market.) Long gone are the private cabanas, changing room and lounges that used to surround it.
The browns and reds and oranges of this Poconos dining hall’s carpet have turned green, the color of the moss that’s taken its place.
The Homowack Lodge now sits abandoned on the southern edge of the famed “Borscht Belt.” On its lower level, maybe the highlight of the place, a four-lane Brunswick bowling alley. It has seen better days. The resort closed in the mid-2000’s but lived on briefly, first as a Hasidic resort and lastly as the site of a summer camp—one which was forced to shut down after the NY Department of Environmental Conservation deemed it uninhabitable.
Grossinger’s indoor tennis center. The rear of the postcard is an ad for Grossinger’s rye bread, a local staple during the resort’s operation. Resort royalty Jenny Grossinger lays out the pitch: “The fun and fresh air people get here at Grossinger’s really gives them an appetite. They love all of our food – and a particular favorite is our Grossinger’s rye and pumpernickel bread. Now you can get this same healthy, flavorful bread at your local food store. Try a loaf. I’m sure you’ll love it.”
Sunbathing and swimming in the Poconos. Postmarked, 1967. “Dear Jonnie: If you were only here, I would take you out for a horse-back ride – or else we could go golfing. Be good until I see you. Dr. Waterman.”
After a fire destroyed the main building at this resort in the Poconos, a replacement went up in the early 70’s. It is a truly striking sight, a modernist spaceship tucked away deep in the woods.
The indoor pool at Grossinger’s, which opened in 1958. Elizabeth Taylor attended the pool’s opening, and Florence Chadwick – the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions – took the first dip in it. From Ross Padluck’s excellent “Lost Architecture of Paradise”: “…The new indoor pool at Grossinger’s was the zenith of the Catskills. Nothing quite like it had ever been built, and nothing ever would be again. It represented everything about the Catskills in the 1950s-style: extravagance, luxury, modernism and celebrity.”
The caption on the back of this Pocono resort’s postcard touts this theater as the “resort world’s most modern showplace.” With a capacity of 1200, it remains splendorous even in disrepair. This postcard is also postmarked, and filled out. “Having a lovely weekend here. All pleasure – only exercise is rowing a boat and playing shuffleboard! Nice to be lady-like and not “rushing” about! We will see you soon.”
The cocktail lounge of a now-defunct resort in the Poconos. “Peaceful relaxation – healthful recreation,” says the caption on the rear of the card.
On the inside of the matchbook, some text: “Swim n’ Sun Indoor Swimming Pool at Penn Hills Lodge and Cottages. The Poconos’ Finest Modern Resort.”
The Mies van der Rohe-inspired “Jenny G Wing” opened in 1964 and was among the last structures erected at Grossinger’s. It was designed by famed architect Morris Lapidus—the man who near single-handedly created the “Miami Modern” look in hotels and, more locally, designed the Capitol Skyline Hotel.
Stairs lead down to an abandoned theater in the Poconos. The curtain last fell here sometime in the early 90’s
Postcard caption: “Birchwood is the only resort offering three swimming pool facilities, indoor pool, outdoor pool and lake with beach. Pictured here is beautiful Eagle Lake, at the foot of the Village Green. Here couples enjoy the white-sand beach, chaise lounges, bicycle and row boats, and fish off its shores … Six low-cost all-expense package plans include indoor swimming, airplane rides, movies, bowling, horseback riding, all winter sports and 40 other free activities!” More recently, the hangar at the resort’s airstrip served a different purpose: cop killer Eric Frein made the place his home during a weeks-long manhunt and was eventually apprehended just a stone’s throw from Eagle Lake.
Looking down the side of that same 70’s structure. “Ultra-modern building houses the dining room, cocktail lounge, lobbies and offices.”
A residential building at a Poconos resort sits in disrepair. On the back of the postcard: “Dear Bernie – Don’t think we forgot you – but we’re having such a grand time that post cards are a chore! This is the life & the place & the people are grand. We couldn’t be happier or have more fun. See you soon! Love, Lou & Shiela.