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A Peek into a Victorian Castle

I'm excited to announce that you can now find Willow & Birch Apothecary bath and beauty products at the Mohonk Mountain House gift shop! Being a Victorian castle resort, I just couldn’t help but dive into its fascinating history...

Mohonk is designated as a National Historic Landmark and dates back to the 1800s when visitors would flock to the Catskills resorts by steamships, railroad, and on stagecoaches. The allure of the grand hotels and natural beauty drew families, artists, and fashionable vacationers from bustling cities like New York and Philadelphia who came to enjoy the natural splendor of the mountains, some looking for relaxation and recuperation while others sought adventures on trail-rides, hiking, and sometimes even climbing!

Albert Smiley leading a hike with guests, 1895

Albert Smiley leading a hike with guests, 1895. 

Albert Smiley at Mohonk Mountain House, circa 1910

Albert Smiley at Mohonk Mountain House, circa 1910.

Mohonk Mountain House was founded in 1869 when Albert Smiley purchased 300 acres and a 10-room inn which he transformed into a grand Victorian castle. The sprawling estate gained notoriety as a luxury resort where guests could escape the urban bustle to leisure in nature.

Victorian Show Garden, 1901

Victorian Show Garden, 1901.

Ladies watching a tennis match at Mohonk Mountain House, 1915

Ladies watching a tennis match, 1915.

150 years later, Mohonk carries on those traditions today with impeccable accommodations and outstanding outdoor activities ranging from horseback riding, hiking, and cross-country skiing to kayaking, rock climbing, and archery.

They’ve also continuously added to the natural splendor with their distinctive hand-hewn “summer houses” (or gazebos) which are thoughtfully placed in the most picturesque spots throughout the property—a Mohonk tradition started in 1890. And in another nod to the past, the Mohonk barn museum houses their original horse-drawn carriages dating back to 1888, when guests would be transported up and down the mountain by carriage.

Carriage ride at stone summerhouse at Mohonk Mountain House, circa 1900

Carriage ride at stone summerhouse, circa 1900.

Victorians also loved vacationing at spas, and upstate New York has a rich history of spa resorts in locales like Saratoga Springs, which boasted the rejuvenating powers of fresh air and mineral-rich healing waters. Following in those footsteps, Mohonk also has a beautiful full-service spa that mirrors the Victorians’ penchant for soothing the body and refreshing the soul…a tradition I’ve also proudly carried on with Willow & Birch Apothecary.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into a Victorian-era resort!
Have you visited Mohonk? Do you have a favorite historic resort near you?
Please share in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

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