Honeymoon resort hotels from the 1960s, heralded as a getaway for newlyweds, became famous for their heart-shaped beds and jacuzzis. But by the early 2000s, many of them were deserted as consumers chose cruises and low-cost international travel over honeymoon kitsch. As part of his "Autopsy of America" series, photographer
Seph Lawless documented the current state of these resorts, which stand abandoned across the Poconos in Pennsylvania.
This sign, welcoming visitors to Penn Hills Resort in Stroud Township, Pennsylvania, remains in place even though the resort closed in 2009. The Inn, founded in 1944, was among the honeymoon resorts in the Poconos that became popular in the postwar years. The property sold
last year to a corporation that plans to redevelop the property.
This romantic nook at the abandoned Penn Hills Resort, in Stroud Township, Pennsylvania, is covered in graffiti. The cozy seating arrangement is typical of the Poconos honeymoon resorts, which catered to couples seeking a romantic getaway. "A walk inside is like walking into a time capsule back into the ‘70s, replete with shag carpeting and ceiling mirrors," said photographer Seph Lawless.
Public Domain, Seph Lawless
Penn Hills, as it appeared in an undated postcard (left) contrasts starkly with its appearance in this 2017 photo. The closure of the resort in 2009, after the death of owner Frances Paolillo, came as part of a broader decline of hotels in the "Honeymoon Capital" of the Poconos.
The Buck Hill Inn, in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, stands abandoned in 2017. The Inn, which opened in 1901, closed its doors for good in 1991. The hotel is currently
under demolition after a group of Monroe County residents raised $2.5 million for the project.
The Buck Hill Inn, which has stood abandoned since 1991, featured an expansive lobby with a brick fireplace.
An abandoned suite in the Summit Resort features a heart-shaped tub, couples' sink, and bed. The first heart-shaped bed appeared in the Cove Haven Resort during the mid-1960s, and the tubs gained popularity throughout the Poconos. A 1971 Life Magazine photo of a couple canoodling in a heart-shaped tub drove traffic to the Poconos,
according to the "Wall Street Journal."
Even the bar at the Summit Resort was heart-shaped. The abandoned resort in Tannersville, Pennsylvania, which closed its doors in 2002, is filled with 1970s-style textiles and light fixtures.
In this postcard from 1967, couples mingle and dance in a room overlooking the Poconos Mountains as a band plays. Until its closure in 2002, the Tannersville, Pennsylvania, resort was aimed at attracting couples on honeymoons and romantic vacations.
A 2017 view of the Summit Resort ballroom, with tables and chairs scattered throughout the darkened room.
Glasses of wine and liquor rest on a table at the abandoned Summit Resort, in Tannersville, Pennsylvania. Photographer Seph Lawless found the poured drinks on the table when he entered the ballroom of the hotel, where guests could look over the Poconos Mountains.
A hallway at the deserted Summit Resort in Tannersville, Pennsylvania, retains the red motifs of the honeymoon theme. Since the shuttering of the hotel in 2002, developers have proposed plans to turn the resort into a water park and into a shopping destination, but it remains empty.
Unity House, an old workers' resort. stands empty in Bushkill, Pennsylvania. The resort was not a honeymoon destination: Jacob Ottenheimer, an immigration agent, built it as a vacation spot for German-speaking Jews in 1892. As a result of Anti-German sentiment stirred by World War I, Ottenheimer's son-in-law sold the property in 1919 to the New York Dress and Waistmakers' Union, who opened Unity House as a getaway in the country to educate and unify workers. In 1924 the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union purchased the property, which they managed until its closure in 1990.
The bar remains empty at Unity House, which has been abandoned since 1990. Neither the bar nor the other facilities in the hotel were heart-shaped, as Unity House was intended to be a family-friendly retreat for union members and their families.
In this undated postcard, guests relax in the seating area of the Unity House, a workers' retreat in the Poconos.
In Seph Lawless's 2017 photograph, the orange chairs of Unity House's relaxation area remain in the abandoned resort. The hotel closed in 1990, when decreasing union membership meant that the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union could no longer afford to maintain the property.
For travelers who are hoping to dip their toes into a heart-shaped tub, there remain a few resorts in the Poconos that cater to couples. Cove Entertainment still operates three resorts in the area, including the Pocono Palace, pictured here. Guest suites feature heart-shaped beds and seven-foot tall champagne glass bubble baths, hallmarks of the earlier Poconos hotels.