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  • Writer's pictureChelsea Susan Bednar

A Brief History of Tannersville NY

The Foundation of the Tannersville Area

To preface, the First Nations people of the Mohican community were the original stewards of the land we now call Tannersville. The history below depicts the timeline after it was settled by outsiders and colonists.

Tannersville is known as ‘The Painted Village in the Sky’ for its colorful buildings and vibrant landscapes, but its documented history is about 200 years old, going back to when the first tanneries enticed families to move upstate for a better lifestyle. The tanneries would harvest natural hemlock trees and strip their bark chips for tanning leather (gaining the town's name). Many forest-related jobs provided families with homes and comfortable lifestyles until the unregulated deforestation nearly wiped out all the natural hemlock trees. After over-harvesting the virgin forest, the tanning industry was at its end, having depleted most of the recourses.

Development in Tannersville

Between the late 1800s to the 1930s, Tannersville boomed with new houses and schools, hotels and boarding houses, and of course, tourism. Renovations of the town included a reliable fire department, a quality high school, a newly renovated Orpheum Theatre, great hiking and biking trails, a nine hole gulf course that opened in 1929, and local boating/fishing spots at the Tannersville Lake. In 1895, Tannersville became an incorporated village, officially making it the town with the highest elevation in New York State. Eventually, the village established itself as a highly sought-after vacation destination.

Tannersville and America’s first “Vacationland”

With lush scenery, fresh mountain air, and affordable travel, Upstate New York became known as America’s first “vacationland”. When people think of The Catskills, references to Dirty Dancing or the second season of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel are often made. It’s understandable to reference back to the heyday of The Catskills and the Borscht Belt of Upstate New York, as the incredible resorts of the area quickly became icons of their time. With anti-semitism affecting where Jewish families could travel safely in-between the 1920s to the early 1960s, upstate became a popular summer home to many. All inclusive resorts became more popular by the year, with all inclusive amenities, like complimentary meals, childcare access, and legendary entertainment every night. These institutions helped shape the American Jewish Culture, enabling Jews to ‘become more American’ while allowing time for introducing immigrant Jewish Culture to the American public.

The Borscht Belt refers to a specific grouping of counties, the closest to Tannersville being Ulster County. Hotel Mountain Brook is located within Green County that borders Woodstock, where its sister hotel ‘Twin Gables of Woodstock’ is located (a 20 minute drive into Ulster County). While Tannersville is technically excluded from the lists of the Borsch Belt, it is incredibly close in proximity to some of the most popular vacation destinations of the time. Often the impact of these small villages is forgotten, but is important to remember. Tannersville, along with a few other small towns neighboring the official borscht belt, were a part of an influential Catskill Mountain Communities Group that consciously challenged anti-semitism. The work of this group set the foundation for the popularity of the Jewish Community to thrive in The Catskills, making the area renowned as a summer nation destination for the decades. As automobiles became more accessible and traveling long distances became more accessible to a larger demographic of people, summer vacations upstate began to dwindle. Today there are a very small handful of all inclusive resorts still operating from the 1960’s Borscht Belt, although most are abandoned.

Read more about the surrounding areas of the Borscht Belt here.

Tannersville Today

Tannersville has once again gained popularity throughout the years, and is growing continues to grow! The small village has a love for the arts, being home to 23Arts, the Catskill Jazz Factory and a 350 seat Orpheum Performing Arts Center in the heart of downtown. Locally owned boutiques and antique shops line the streets, intermixed with a few gourmet restaurants. Rip Van Winkle Lake Park is now home to a restaurant, small beach front, biking trails, a large playground, basketball court, skate rink, and picnic pavilion. The larger Mountaintop community hosts events, seasonal activities, and lots of outdoor activities and sports. Tannersville is host to quite a few international events and festivals, including Mountain Jam, Taste of Country, Oktoberfest, TAP NY as well as other music and cultural festivals.

Up the hill from downtown Tannersville is Hotel Mountain Brook, a historic property originally built in 1940. The building was revitalized by the Hunter Foundation in 2007, and came into new ownership as of 2021 by {verdigreen} hotels. Stay at our Rustic Adirondack Style Lodge and enjoy the new renovations on site. Explore the beautiful grounds and enjoy all the mountaintop has to offer - we’ll be waiting for you!

Escape the hustle & bustle of city life and come visit us at Hotel Mountain Brook - your next upstate destination awaits.

Thank you for reading,

The Mountain Brook Team

Looking to come back to town? Try staying at one of our sister properties upstate in East Chatham and Woodstock with {verdigreen} hotels .

Remember to follow Hotel Mountain Brook on Instagram and Facebook, and tell us about your stay over at Trip Advisor. We look forward to hosting your next upstate getaway!


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