When the Penn Hills Resort finally closed its doors in 2009, it was already in a sorry state. According to The Pocono Record, passing motorists just assumed that the faded sign and sagging structures were another casualty of a regional economic collapse, abandoned by the couples and vacationers who had made the Poconos the “Honeymoon Capital of the World” for decades. Its ancient owner, Frances Poalillo, had failed to pay over a million dollars in back taxes by the time he died at age 102, and a few weeks after his death, the resort closed for good, its remaining staff going uncompensated for their final weeks of work.
Since then, the resort, a sprawling 60-plus acres in Analomink, PA, has been left unattended, ravaged by both the elements and teenagers, its shag carpeting and ceiling mirrors witness to acts a far cry from their heyday, when the resort was also a popular swingers destination.
When last we checked, the resort was falling apart, but in a beautiful way, nature not yet having taken root in the suites and honeymoon retreats of yesteryear. There was hope for some resurrection. Now however, it is truly a lost place. Earlier this year, it was sold, with the former property manager telling the local newspaper that “we’re happy we’re rid of it.”
Almost a two hour drive from New York City, the resort sits beside Route 191, just over the PA state line from New Jersey. You can still drive onto the property, and even discreetly park your car behind a dumpster next to the Brodhead Creek. Almost every available piece of wall has been used as canvas for graffiti, with the ruined dining hall one of the few buildings that has miraculously kept some of its windows intact. Crossing the road, hotel rooms and private cabins have been emptied of much of their furniture, their televisions smashed and heart-shaped bathtubs filled with beer cans and debris. They now serve as homes for assorted woodland animals.
Some floors have begun to give out, and a walk around the property is an exercise in breathing in mold and glass particles, accompanied by an itchy sensation that slowly works its way inward from your extremities.
At first glance, the resort appears to have been closed for decades—only when you dig through the rooms and look at the phone books and scattered itineraries from the shuttered front office do you see the relatively recent datelines. From the overgrown tennis courts to the murky shallows of the wedding-bell shaped swimming pool, the resort is a glimpse into a not-distant past left to rot, where passersby, stunned by the ruin, often get out of their cars. Maybe they leave after taking a few photos or perhaps they go on to lose an afternoon exploring room after room, wondering just what memories were made in these spaces, picking up souvenirs along the way.
The county hopes the new owners move quickly to either secure or demolish the crumbling property. With every structure on the acreage already vandalized, officials say "most of the remaining structure will need to be demolished or rehabilitated to meet current building codes." The owners have not yet revealed what the former resort will become under their lock and key.