Sunset Park Inn was a five-story hotel built at the head of the Kaaterskill Clove and within 300 feet of the beautiful Haines Falls. Sunset Park was named for the gorgeous sunsets so well viewed from its elevation. It was a neighbor of Twilight and Santa Cruz Parks and just to the west of it.

A Brooklyn Daily Eagle of August 11, 1902, claims, “Sunset Park Inn was known as the Walldorf Astoria of the Catskills. The most select up-to-date hotel in the Catskill Mountains with all improvements and the grandest views in America.”

The Inn, built on the north slope of Round Top Mountain, was built on the rocky ledges above the hamlet of Haines Falls. In the early 1900s, the Inn was appraised for $50,000 (with inflation, that’s $1,554,800). Sunset Park at the time was smaller, but private, like Parks are today. A quote written in a 1975 “Twilight Park” article by Historian Dian Galusha, noted what Charles F. Wingate (founder of Twilight Park) said 133 years ago, “It is a resting place for city folk, where they may be recreated by nature’s best medicine: tonic air, pure water, and outdoor life in the sunshine and amid the everlasting hills.”

Tidbit: June 28, 1941, Hunter Review said Sunset Springs Hotel would be used as a refugee camp; see the article from the Review. “Lights Out” for the new Sunset Inn — Frozen Funds End Deal. Backers Facing Arrest. “The long, ugly is of war has reached the Mountain Top, bursting the Rosey bubble blown by the promoters of the Sunset Inn (error in the article called it Twilight Park). Dazzling plans for the resort had been scheduled. It was to run as a scintillating Continental hostelry, the rendezvous for the social elite of Europe whose avenues of entertainment and relaxation abroad had been closed. Music and variety artists were to be featured. A prominent impresario already had been engaged. Elaborate innovations were started inside the six-story structure as well as on the exterior. The grounds were to be lavishly landscaped and tennis courts installed.”

“The backers of the plan were satisfied that funds for the project would be forthcoming through the Czechoslovakian interest here. The project even included turning the entire place over to the Czechoslovakian Refugee Committee after the summer season was over. for the accommodation of refugee children. And then, boom: The sad news came through that the funds were among those frozen by the Presidential proclamation. The work stopped at once. Contractors and laborers had just their efforts for their pains. In short, there was no cash.

Already in the hands of State Police are seven warrants for the unhappy promoters, representing claims of workers and builders running as high as $3000 ($55000 in today’s money). It may be that arrangements might be perfected if necessary funds should materialize. All work was to have been completed soon. The stoppage of labor made the place look like one of the bombed buildings in Prague. However, even if plans were to resume, they obviously couldn’t be completed in time for this season. And so the sun sets on Sunset Inn even before it had a chance to lift above the horizon. A tough break for all concerned.”

“It is a resting place for city folk, where they may be recreated by nature’s best medicine: tonic air, pure water, and outdoor life in the sunshine and amid the everlasting hills.”

Edith May Stevens had purchased the Inn and ran it until 1942, when it sold to Catherine T. Stames, Inc. It was owned by the Stames family (with a name change to Sunset Springs Hotel) but operated as the Excelsior Restaurant Inc. It continued for several years, catering mainly to a Greek clientele. The Inn continued but struggled with the declining number of guests and finally closed its doors in 1977. Foreclosure took place on January 16, 1984. After the foreclosure, vandalism quickly got out of control.

Vandals broke windows, smashed furniture, and destroyed the beautiful surroundings. As Justine said, “The showplace was reduced to shambles, a sad reminder of an age of Elegance.”

Another wonderful part of the Mountain Top’s history.

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