BEAR MOUNTAIN The Palisades Interstate Park Commission has embarked on a $10 million project to restore the Bear Mountain Inn to its former stature as a prime destination in the Hudson Valley.
The latest work to be paid for with a $2 million state grant, foundation grants, fund-raisers and private donations has closed the popular tourist spot until the spring. The second and third floors are expected to reopen April 11, park officials said. The first floor will remain closed the rest of the year.
Bear Mountain State Park gets 3 million visitors a year.
The work will restore the inn to a 1930s ambience, one that commission officials said would render the rustic building worthy of its designation last year on the National Register of Historic Places.
Scott Fish, capital facilities manager, said the inn's first floor on the side by Hessian Lake would include a conference room with fireplace, teleconferencing capabilities and a patio overlooking the lake, as well as a kitchen area, enlarged gift shop and a new hiker's lounge with limited menu, a bar and outdoor cafe seating.
After philanthropist Mary W. Harriman donated 10,000 acres and $1 million to the state in 1909 to establish Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park in the Palisades Interstate Park system, Gov. Charles Hughes canceled plans to build a prison on the site.
The inn attracted a steady clientele through the years, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, former first ladies Mamie Eisenhower and Lady Bird Johnson, and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, wife of the Nationalist Chinese president. Eisenhower and his fellow graduates of the class of 1915 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point held their 1960 reunion there, Binnewies said.
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