Mohonk Mountain House is one of those special places on this planet that nurtures the soul. If you don’t believe me then take the word of The Nature Conservancy, which has designated the thousands of unspoiled acres surrounding Mohonk as one of its Last Great Places on earth.
I’ve been here for the past two days for a series of meetings with colleagues and partners from the Northeast. Together we’ve discussed, among other topics, the role historic preservation plays in environmental sustainability. Last night when my friend Nina Smiley told the group of the wonderful history of Mohonk Mountain House, it was clear that few places showcase the relationship between nature, sustainability, and unique historic places better than Mohonk.
Nina gave a wonderful talk, full of tales of twin Quaker brothers establishing this hotel, but naming it the Mohonk Mountain House to avoid the unsavory reputation hotels and inns held in their day. Over 141 years of ownership by the Smiley family, Mohonk has remained “the same…only better” to use Nina’s words. As the website notes:
Much as one sees Lake Mohonk today, Alfred H. Smiley saw it in 1869 when he visited the Shawangunk Mountains on a picnic outing. He and his twin brother, Albert K., envisioned a peaceful retreat where people could enjoy the beauty of nature in a truly spectacular setting. Albert purchased the property from John F. Stokes, and the brothers eventually turned the ten-room inn and tavern into the grand House it is today.
I also learned at dinner last evening from my colleague Alicia that Lowell’s Boat Shop – a 2009 winner in the Boston Partners in Preservation program and a wonderful place in its own right – supplies the wooden dories for Mohonk that generations have enjoyed during the summer. Lowell’s was one of my favorite sites from the Partners in Preservation program, so the connection with Mohonk seemed very appropriate.
In between meetings, I’ve been hiking and taking photographs. Visit the Mohonk website to learn more about the historic preservation and environmental stewardship that’s a part of everyday life – and corporate culture – for this unique place. More importantly, find the time to visit Mohonk Mountain House at some point in your life and soak up the spirit of this place that’s like no other. Finally, enjoy the photos below, taken on a glorious spring day in New York.
More to come…