(Photo by Andrew Scott/The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.)
The 117-year-old property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features a championship golf course designed by Donald Ross and William Flynn, was scheduled to close at the end of November for a two-year renovation that would include the creation of a new family-oriented fantasy adventure-themed park and an entertainment-based retail project. Ownership has vowed to rebuild in “brand new and spectacular” fashion.
A wind-whipped blaze that apparently broke out in a kitchen near a dining area early on the morning of November 1 at the 117-year-old Pocono Manor (Pa.) Resort and Spa was still being battled more than 40 hours after it started, with responding firefighters calling it one of the most difficult to contain in their experience.
“I thought we had it under control real quickly,” the resort’s General Manager, Don Snyder, told a local television station. “But the wind was gusting so badly, it just really got ahead of the equipment that was on hand and kept blowing and blowing.”
The fire destroyed much of the main inn at the historic, five-square-mile property, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and features an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Donald Ross and William Flynn. The inn’s iconic clock tower toppled as a result of the blaze.
The resort was scheduled to close at the end of November for a massive, two-year renovation project, but very little now remains of its main building after the fire. Snyder told news organizations covering the fire that the damage and timing was “heartbreaking.”
Planned improvements for the renovation, described in videos on the resort’s website at https://www.poconomanor.com/news, included a chairlift down the mountain on which the resort is built, and the creation of “Poconos Lumina,” a family-oriented fantasy adventure-themed park, and a Pocono Springs entertainment-based retail project.
In a news conference held two days after the fire broke out, owner Joe Jerome said the resort would be rebuilt. “Rest assured we will rebuild a brand new and spectacular facility here.” Jerome said.
About 25 of the resort’s 240 guest rooms were occupied when the fire broke out, news organizations reported, but all were safely evacuated and no injuries to guests were reported. Some minor injuries to responding firefighters, who came from nearly two dozen departments from surrounding counties, were reported.
After the fire, the resort posted a message on its website that stated: “We are so saddened by today’s tragic fire. Please know we are working diligently to find options for all our November groups and guests. We are so grateful to our hospitality network and all of the firemen and emergency services crews who are helping to extinguish the fire. Neighboring properties such as Kalahari Resorts, Crescent Lodge, Camelback Lodge & Indoor Waterpark, Baymont Inn & Suites, and Bartonsville Poconos Great Wolf Lodge are great alternatives for guests in need of rooms for this weekend. We are hoping to be in contact with all of our guests by early next week.”
Many news reports on the fire included comments from those who felt a personal sense of loss for a site that had helped to create so many memories for guests over the years.
“When I saw it, I just cried instantaneously,” said Diana Mikulak, who stood in disbelief with her husband Joseph as they looked at their wedding venue from six years ago as it burned to the ground. “I hope that they keep the old charm, and it has still that old feel,” she added, expressing hope that the property’s ownership will still be able to follow through on plans for a new beginning through a comprehensive renovation.
“I’m sad right now. It’s tough,” Joseph Mikulak added. “The place was old and it needed a lot of renovations, but to see it go this way is kind of hard.”