The Adler Hotel
Sharon Springs, located in the Mohawk Valley in central New York, was once a highly fashionable bath resort town for wealthy New Yorkers, as well as European and Judaic visitors. During the 19th century, this tiny village became world famous by virtue of the therapeutic benefits of its mineral springs, which contain high levels of sulphur, magnesium, iron and “blue stone” water. At the beginning of the 19th century, the town drastically expanded as several luxurious hotels and bath-houses were constructed to accommodate the increasing influx of guests.
In 1929, the Adler Hotel was the last hotel to open its doors in Sharon Springs. At that time, the village was already in decline due to the repercussions of the Great Depression and Prohibition; however, after a couple of years of financial struggles this five-story, 150-room Spanish Colonial Revival-style resort got a second wind from the West German government. The German government, which paid medical care reparations to Holocaust survivors, stated that therapeutic spa vacations were a legitimate part of the medical package.
By the 1950s, the Adler’s clientele was made up largely of middle-class Jewish families. Bingo games were called in English and Yiddish, and the kitchen served kosher food. However, the explosion of the independent automobile culture (eliminating the need for “all-inclusive” packages) along with the construction of the New York State Thruway, which by-passed Sharon Springs, condemned the village to become another forgotten upstate destination. Year after year, the city continued to decline, its hotels and bath-houses closing in waves.
The Adler was the last hotel to cease operations in 2004. The once
thriving spa now sits empty, waiting for the Korean-American investment group, who purchased the Adler, to renovate it. Judging by the state of the derelict building, they don’t seem eager to do so.
For this expedition, NYCitizen and I teamed up with urban exploration duo Shangri-La. After a good 4-hour drive from Brooklyn, we met with our new companions in the parking lot of the town’s unique gas station. After parking the car in the woods, hidden between some trees, we entered the Adler.
After scoping the kitchen, lobby, ballroom and the restaurant on the ground floor, which were basically empty and dark, we decided to explore the rooms. The first floor was completely trashed. It appeared that red-necks and copper scrappers had quite some fun here as walls were destroyed, TV’s were smashed, and anarchist tags were placed in almost every room. Shangri-la, who was familiar with the Adler, told us that the hotel was immaculate one year ago. Luckily, it seemed that these local hooligans were too inebriated to climb the stairs further, as the 2nd and 3rd floors were not nearly as vandalized. We entered each and every room, photographing the old phones, TV’s, and vintage furniture, while hallucinating in front of the crazy psychedelic wallpaper patterns.
Words and images by Charles le Brigand
All rights reserved. Une production de Brigand © 2010