FROM THE FILES OF…THE HURLEYVILLE SENTINEL
Compiled by Sullivan County Historian John Conway
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when local newspapers were arguably at the peak of their popularity, it was common for papers to publish so called “Industrial Editions” that featured what would later be termed “advertorials” describing the merits of local businesses. As far as we can determine, the Hurleyville Sentinel never produced one of these publications, but both the Republican Watchman and the Sullivan County Republican, larger circulation newspapers published in Monticello, did.
Here we reproduce an excerpt describing a Hurleyville business taken from the January 28, 1898 Republican Watchman special edition.
January 28, 1898, Republican Watchman
John H Knapp, Prop.
Take the state of New York from its apex at Franklin County down to New York City and west to Buffalo and one cannot find a more sightly [sic] or picturesque spot on which to erect a summer hotel than that on which the Columbia is located at Hurleyville, N.Y.
The house is situated in the most attractive and picturesque portion of Sullivan County, on a most beautiful towering eminence three hundred feet above and overlooking the pretty village of Hurleyville, and a most beautiful and picturesque expanse of country for miles in extent, with the ranges of the Shawangunk and Catskills mountains in the background. The intervening country is variegated with fertile meadows, delightful forests, waving fields of grain and sparkling brooks laughing and dancing over their rocky beds on their way to the Neversink.
Dotted here and there throughout this panorama of natural beauty are pretty farms, homes surrounded by lovely orchards and beautiful flower gardens with herds of cattle grazing in the productive pastures nearby.
Nowhere can the situation of the “Columbia” be surpassed for healthfulness of climate and grandeur of scenery and nearby are some of the highest mountain peaks between New York City and the Great Lakes. The house is on a level with the Hotel Wawonda at Liberty and is built on solid rock with excellent sanitary arrangements and perfect drainage.
The “Columbia” was erected five years ago for the sole purpose of catering to the summer trade and is replete with every convenience calculated to enhance the comfort and pleasure of guests. It is located on a farm of one hundred acres, with a splendid grove of stately maples, covering thirty acres near the house.
The house contains about fifty rooms, all large, airy and well ventilated, furnished throughout in the most modern style, heated by steam, with both hot and cold water, closets and baths on every floor. The verandas are wide and spacious, strewn with hammocks and easy chairs and the lawns are large and attractive and are well adapted to outdoor games and amusements. There is a bowling alley and large amusement hall on the premises situated a convenient distance from the main building.
Both the water and ice used in the house are obtained from one of the largest and best springs in the country, which is located near the house.
The dining rooms are large, cool and comfortable, and are plentifully supplied with all the substantials [sic] and delicacies of the season, the milk, butter, eggs, poultry, maple syrup and vegetables being the product of the farm in connection, thus insuring purity and freshness in every way.
It has always been the aim of the courteous and pleasant proprietor, with the aid of his worthy wife, to make the “Columbia” one of the excelsior hotels of this section of the state and that they have been successful is clearly indicated by the steadily-increasing popularity which the house enjoys in connection with its enviable business status.
A good laundry and livery are in connection and the rates are from $7 to $15 per week, according to room. Transient rates are $1.50 per day. In order to reach the “Columbia” from New York take ferry at West 42nd or Franklin streets via N.Y.O.& W. R.R. to Hurleyville, 11 miles without change.
Mr. John H Knapp, the populist proprietor of the “Columbia” is of the old and well known family of Knapps, his ancestors having come from Connecticut and settled in the vicinity of Hurleyville more than 100 years ago.
The “Columbia” is unique in its exceptional equipments [sic] and in the excellence of its cuisine. Spacious parlors, luxurious lounging rooms, broad and shady verandas, combine to make it the favorite lounging place of the best class of people of our large cities. Its landscape views are unsurpassed for their magnificence and grandeur. Late in the day when the sun sheds its brilliant rays upon the mountain tops, down through the ravines and valleys the scene is grand beyond description.
The nights are always cool at the “Columbia” and malaria and mosquitos are unknown.
The grounds of the hotel embrace many acres, the greater portion of which has been improved for the pleasure of the guests. They are furnished plentifully with summer houses, rustic seats, pleasant walks and grand drives.
At sunset, the landscape is transcendent with the soft shade and delicate tints of the sky, the atmosphere aglow with color and there comes to one the novel experience of not alone beholding the distant glories of the west, but of actually standing in and being surrounded by the effulgence of the dying day. It is in such an environment and atmosphere that the guests of the “Columbia” find rest, health and pleasure and the dreams that make life worth living.