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The Grossinger family came to the United States around 1910 from a section of Poland that was part of the Austrian Empire. After failing at several professions in New York City, the religious family chose Ferndale because of its established orthodox community - and because the Grossinger's were farmers. In 1914, the Grossinger's bought some property and opened a small farmhouse. They had planned to grow crops there, but the soil was not good enough for their farming, and quickly realized there was more money in taking boarders in. The first summer they had nine guests, and the next year so many came up that the overflow slept outdoors.
In 1919, the Grossinger's purchased the Nicolas Farm one mile away from their property. They called their new establishment Grossinger's Hotel, which had plumbing and electricity. For years they also owned cows, from which they got fresh milk daily. Jennie Grossinger was the leading force behind Grossinger's. She was a well-known figure in the Catskills, known for treating every guest like a part of the family.
Grossinger's started small but quickly grew. New buildings sprung up in the popular "Sullivan County Tudor" style, and new activities were added to keep up with the times. Grossinger's always had the best people running activities, and was known for its unique features such as expensive sports facilities. More than anything else, Grossinger's was a starting point for hundreds of would-be big stars. Everyone got their start in the Catskills, and Grossinger's was the hot spot.
At its height, Grossinger's was so encompassing that it had its own airport and post office (Grossinger, New York). The reason behind the post office was simple: the Town of Liberty was known for its sanitariums, and Grossinger's didn't want to be associated with this; so they became a town. After Jennie Grossinger died, the force behind the hotel diminished and it closed in the late 1980s. Its legacy will live on forever. You can still catch Grossinger's personality Lou Goldstein with his popular Simon Sez comedy show at various hotels and on television.
© 1991, 2000 Scott Eckers (used with permission)
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