Melissa Mullen Photography Blog » Maine Wedding and Portrait Photography : New England & Beyond

Birchwood Resort

In late June of 2014, I received a Facebook message from a friend from high school. He wrote: “I noticed you like to shoot derelict buildings and decaying scenery in a lot of the work you’ve posted. Whenever you’re in the Poconos you should go to Birchwood. All kinds of weird shit there.”

I immediately opened my calendar and noticed that I had a rare weekend off. I phoned my Mom and asked if she’d like to take a trip to the Poconos. Within minutes of receiving that message, a trip was planned.

After the trip, I was driving along and this song came on.  The lyrics struck me and told the story of this project. I would like to suggest readers play while viewing the work

Birchwood Resort is located in Tannersville, Pennsylvania, also known as the Poconos.  The resort was for couples only and like a cruise on land.  On the resort were private cottages along ponds, foot paths leading you through the property, an indoor pool, bowling alley, cross-country ski area, roller skating rink, and nighttime entertainment.  
01-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 02-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

I grew up 10 miles from the resort and worked there for a bit in my late teens. On July 4, 2014 my friend who inspired this trip, met up with me to experience Birchwood as it is now.

Outside the resort, I captured the entrance, the main lodge, and some of the cottages that used to be alive with employees and guests.

03-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 04-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 05-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 06-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 07-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 08-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 09-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 10-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 11-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 12-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

Why I love this type of abandonment is beyond me, but I am absolutely fascinated by ghost towns, and this happened to have a personal history for me. The wooden doors and fences that once stood tall are now rotted and mangled, and the cottages are covered in moss and ivy.

13-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

14-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 15-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 16-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 17-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 18-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

This is the front desk, where I worked in the late ‘90s. I had a lot of fun at this job. I got to work with some great people and meet some interesting characters.  

19-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 20-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 21-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

Everything is covered in dust now, but there are still stories to be told.

22-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 23-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

24-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

This is Claude. He was the maintenance man when I worked at Birchwood and now he’s security. Notice the gun on his right hip. He told Mom and I that kids have broken into the buildings so many times that the local police told him he could shoot them, but not shoot to kill. I believe he’s the one who wrote the message in dust on the coffee table.

25-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 26-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 27-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 28-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 29-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 30-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 31-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

32-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 33-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

This desk tells its own story. It’s as if one day the crew just stood up and walked away. There is even a jar of peanut butter on the desk from that fateful day.

34-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 35-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 36-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 37-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

I captured a closer view of the chalkboard, which had notes from 2003.

38-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 39-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 40-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 41-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

42-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 43-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 44-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 45-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

My friend worked in the activities area, so it was fun to capture him in a place that was also a part of his history. There were still bowling shoes and skates scattered around the rooms. We didn’t touch anything or move anything into better light. The photographs below are exactly what we saw and it just so happens that most things were in the perfect natural light.

46-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 47-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 48-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 49-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

50-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 51-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 52-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 53-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 54-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 55-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 56-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 57-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania 58-birchwood-resort-poconos-pennsylvania

An aerial view looking west at the ramp & hangar at Birchwood Pocono, showing over 2-dozen light aircraft parked on the ramp. The photo was on the cover of the 10/87 issue of New England Weekend Flyers (courtesy of Jay Friedman).

birchwood-resort

A 1960s photo (courtesy of Don Hamilton) of Don & his wife & Wally Hoffman, in front of a Piper Apache painted in Birchwood markings. Source

I held onto this personal project for quite some time before sharing.  Mainly because a few months after I was there police ended a nearly seven-week manhunt at Birchwood.  The man they were looking for was found to be hiding in the airport hanger.  The one place I didn’t bring my camera.  Lesson learned.  The new owners of the resort are planning to renovate and reopen  in the coming years.

I’m glad I got to capture it in its original state while I still could.

xoxo…

TWEET THIS POST
  • Chris Cavallari

    Very cool!

  • Jessica Anne

    I love your work & your pix are so amazing ❤️

  • Ann Marie Gottschalk

    Great pics. I grew up around the corner. Never knew what a hidden gem this was. Hope they rebuild. I miss the good ole days <3

  • Lesley Anglemire

    These are great photos . But sad and depressing that this place was just left to rot away. I worked here as a chambermaid in the late 70s and I have to say it was the best job I ever had. The money wasn’t great but the job was fun. We used to drive golf carts around from room to room and get great ham sandwiches from the restaurant for lunch. In those days the place was booming with honeymooners. I spent many money’s hanging around that table in front of the washers and dryers , where we would drink coffee and load our gold carts with cleaning supplies and sheets and towels for our rooms.

  • Lesley Anglemire

    These are great photos. But sad and depressing, that this place was just left to rot away. I worked here as a chambermaid in the late 70s, and I have to say, it was the best job I ever had. The money wasn’t great, but the job was fun. We used to drive golf carts around from room to room and get great ham sandwiches from the restaurant for lunch. In those days the place was booming with honeymooners and full of life. I spent many mornings around that table in front of the washers and dryers , where we would drink coffee and load our golf carts with cleaning supplies ,sheets and towels for our rooms. Alot of great memories go back to those yrs. at Birchwood.

  • Kevin Kuhenbeaker

    I worked in the Dinning room,off and on from 77 to 81! Had fun there too! Such a shame that it fell into the mess it is today! I loved getting snow in there!

  • Angelo Prinzo Jr

    Very sad to see it so abandoned. Had some great times as a musician at The Birchwood thanks to Paula Caravella.

  • Kat Attack

    I’m am very impressed. This was extremely interesting and very sad. The death of a era past. Excellent photo’s Melissa. You are talented and creative! I loved seeing this!

  • I too, worked at Birchwood Resort. From 90-98 I was the Housekeeping Mgr. It was when Wally lost the resort and PNC bank had a management company run it. At first the changes came slow, we still had a great clientele. Many couples stayed a week or longer, but then the management company( Beck Summit) wanted to keep the bid on running the resort would have us cutting our budget 15% every year. It started showing and the clientele also changed. We got alot of fire companies from Long Island come for the weekend and they destroyed the place. It was very sad. Once it was sold, the new owners weren’t much better. I left because I had four housekeeper and myself to do the rooms, public areas and laundry plus manger the dept. I coukdn’t bear to stay and watch Birchwood get run into the ground. On the brighter side, the people I worked with were wonderful, we had a sense of family, always helped each other out. Forged life long friendships and too many great memories to list.

  • Jennifer

    Could have Claude have used the peanut butter more recently? Or would he be willing or able to share why things were left behind. I am glad they are so pristine for the most part and wish I could have visited when it was open or it could be restored to its’ former glory.

  • Mary Ann Field

    Thanks, Melissa, for sharing these pictures! My husband and I spent our honeymoon here the week of May 25th 1980. We loved it so much there,but never got to go back to have another get-away! We had 11 children instead!! We lived in NJ at the time, but have since moved to Ohio.

    I had heard that the place was abandoned and always told my husband that all I wanted to do was go back to see Birchwood again to re-live the past!!

    Last November, on our way to NJ for Thanksgiving, we did JUST that! I had saved my paperwork,a map of the property, we were given at check-in, so I knew just which cottage we stayed in.I walked into our cottage, and it had the same furniture it had in 1980! I actually found a drawer that I had signed the inside on our honeymoon! What a fantastic find after 35 years!!! It was actually one of the most exciting days of my life! Who could go back to a place that they wrote something down 35 years ago, and find it again in an abandoned place! I have menus from our dinners that were rolled up nicely on our plates each night.

    We took hayrides, bowled,went swimming,put put golf, and even took shooting practice!! At night we would go to the Red Baron Lounge for drinks!! What fun memories!! It’s so sad to see it today but I’m so glad it hadn’t been knocked down before we got to see it again. We also met Claude, who we didn’t know was even there, so we are so lucky he didn’t use his gun on us!! It’s a disgrace that kids would have such little regard for property, and destroy Birchwood, that was once so beautiful!! We were able to take pictures too and a video, and share them with our 11 kids!! Thanks again…..it’s fun to go down memory lane again!

  • Mary Ann, thank you so much for stopping by my blog and sharing your story. You explained your experience at Birchwood so well, I could visualize it. I’m also blown away that you two had 11 children!! Holy amazing! Thanks again for sharing!!

  • Cathy and Tom Murphy

    Thank you for the great pictures! Tom and I spent our honeymoon there October. 1975. You actually have a picture of our bedroom in the 2 story cottage with the same 4 poster bed!! 41 years later!! Awesome! We walked the property this time last year; was sad but brought back great memories! I brought my pictures of what it looked like then and took some of what it looks like now, but your pictures are
    much better. Wish I could buy it and bring it back as a resort for those of us that honeymooned there.

  • Bill Kimble

    My wife and i also honeymooned at Birchwood sept. 12 1970, My hope was to spend the weekend there on our 50th in 2020 so sad we will not get the chance. We loved the place and it was affordable for a young couple just starting out. We just looked at our photo album still in the wooden holder. This spring we will drive up there and look at it before its totally destroyed hope we get to meet Claude. Thanks for your photos, brings back good memories.

  • Karen leblanc

    My husband and i spent our honeymoon there in April 1988. The staff was fantastic the way they catered to their guests. We had such a great time that we stayed an extra night. The grounds are so beautiful. I have lots of pictures. My husband even brought i fishing pole so i have pics of him with his catch. Always planned on going back but got busy with having to kids. I looked into going back on our 25th anniv. to find out they had closed. Still have the little trophires that we won for bowling and archery. Hung out with lots of nice couples and partied and danced in lower level lounge. Great pictures Melissa. Thank you for the memories.

  • Georges Bosse

    I want to thank you for your photos. It is sad because we honeymooned there in 1966 into a 2 story cottage. Our own photos taken in 1966 show the good time yours are expressing clearly that sometime, time is hard on businesses.
    I don’t know why Birchwood closed but I guess it is a lack of capacity to modernize and be updated.
    Anyway we are still in love after 50 years and Birchwood will always remain part of our very good souvenirs.
    We are from Canada and went at Birchwood in november 1966 for our honeymoon and went back in 1967 when one of our friend also honeymooned in Birchwood in 1967.
    Georges

  • Charlie Atwell

    Melissa, I was captivated by your pictures and completely fascinated by your story of the resorts abandonment and subsequent collapse. How incredibly sad. I performed in a band that played at Birchwood in the early 80s. I could never forget the place, as it was the first time this old southern boy ever walked on a frozen lake. We were treated like kings and I remember the lounge area as being well staffed and filled to capacity every night. Excellent food and so many cool things to do. Thank you for your excellent photo essay and your personal story of working at the resort to go along with it. Sincerely,
    Charlie

  • Harry Marker

    My wife and I stayed there for our 15th anniversary in Dec of 2001, and at that time the owners of the property were Chinese. They had bought the property to build a worship center for their religion. They couldnt get approval and ended up folding. I an a group of investers looked into buying the property and building a new family resort, with Condos, 9 hole golfcourse, and keeping log construction of the dining building as the focal building. It was s beautiful log structure with a massive stone hearth at one end of the dining room. We put together a purchase plan, blueprints, traffic study, utilities study and many other due diligence items, and one of the last things we did, was to have a relative of one of the partners, start talking to members of the Town council to see what they thought of the possibility of the property being purchased and redeveloped. EVER member of the council told our contact, that the Mayor of the town would never let us get an approval for anything, as he wanted the resort, and was willing to block anything else from going in there. Needless to say, we all as investors in the property, backed out of doing anything with the property.
    At the time we were there it had already run down some, and we were calling around in the middle of the night to other resorts to try to book a weekend stay, but could not find anything. The next morning, when we walked outside the pond side cabin, there was a small herd of deer standing next to our cabin. That caused my wife and I to fall in love with the old place. We also wrote our name on the fireplace wall, like so many before us. The meals we had during our 3 day stay, were fantastic, and the wait staff were awesome.
    I was going to extend the runway so larger aircraft could use the landing facilities, either for our planned resort, or other attractions closeby.
    It is such ashame for such a beautiful resort to have become derelict the way Birchwood has. Unfortunately, family resorts just like Birchwood are going in same direction. Families no longer take 1 or 2 week vacations together like they used to when Birchwood was built. I hope that someone with the same passion for the property is finally able to get around the town council, and rebuild Birchwood into the family resort destination it is capable of becoming.

  • John and Kathy

    We spent our honeymoon at Birchwood, May 27, 1972. Just went back tonight, May 27, 2017, 45 years later. Sad, but also nice that we could walk around the abandoned buildings so many years later. Your pictures are wonderful. Thank you.

  • Kimberly

    I would love to walk through it I just drove by it for the first time about 2 weeks ago I can’t help but to stop and drive slow every time now I feel drawn to it. If I have the money I would love to buy it and redo it to the way it was not big hotels do it just like it was there are not many places like this around I much rather stay in a place like this then a hotel

  • Rob

    I stayed here with my than girlfriend in 1999. Place was a dump. Our cottage was filthy and old, all craved up furniture with names. The food was gross. All we did was get drunk and have sex for 3 days non stop.

  • Pam

    Thank you so much for sharing about Birchwood. My husband & I also went there on our honeymoon 7/10/1976. It was a wonderful place. I am so sorry to see & hear how it has been abondoned. We never got back to visit it. It is so sad to see these pictures. It is an eerie sight to see how so suddenly they just left. It appears there was no notice they had 5 minutes to leave & that was it. So sad. Thank you for sharing. All good things have to end I assume. Just wish the outcome had been better for Borchwood

    Pam

  • Randall

    As our 50th Wedding Anniversary approaches, Sep 2nd, we wondered if OUR honeymoon site still existed. Though it is somewhat sad to see the state that Birchwood is in now, your pictures brought back many good memories. Thank you.

  • D

    My husband and I honeymooned here 25 years ago this place seemed so far away from hillside nj where we were living at the time. Back then I never imagined I would be living in the same county but here we are 25 years later driving by here the other day brought back a flood of memories . We will be returning this weekend to take pictures and visit our cottage

  • Judy

    Wow this makes me so very sad. My husband and I honeymooned here in June of 1977. It was beautiful. All that’s left is the memories .

  • Pam Lambert

    Thank you so much for the pictures. We also spent our honeymoon there. Feb 14 1981. 37 years and still counting. Always wanted to go back for 40th anniversy. The food was great then and our cottage. Makes me want to cry to see what has happened. Thanks again for sharing. Pam

  • Joyce Nierman

    My husband and I vacationed at Birchwood twice before going on our Honeymoon on 7/26/86. We stayed in Chalet #2. Beautiful private with a fireplace upstairs and a fireplace and jacuzzi upstairs i our canopy bed and other bedroom furniture
    Downstairs along with the fireplace was living room furniture. I loved the entertainment in the Red Baron Den and the other couples who we met. Birchwood may be no more but my memories will last forever with our pictures.

  • Nancy Brenek

    Melissa,
    Great pictures! It is 50 years since our honeymoon. Even though Birchwood is in ruins, our memories are not. We are hoping to drive up this summer just to take a final look around.

  • Arlene

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures, as most that I’ve seen only show the decay. Yours tell a story that we are part of! We started going to Birchwood in 1984 and went back a minimum of 25 times throughout the years. Christmas time was magical there, at that time they had a horse-drawn carriage that you could rent and it was so awesome. We saw the decline coming for a long time, but it didn’t really matter because it was “our” place.
    I hope Chip, Ingrid, Carol, and all of the other fantastic people who made our time at Birchwood are happy and well.
    Again, thank you for your awesome approach to showing Birchwood through my eyes!!

  • Arlene

    Thank you for the beautiful photos. We started going to Birchwood in 1984 and visited at least 3 times a year. The staff was so special to us; Ingrid, Paula, Chip, Carol, and so many more!
    I have such a heavy heart knowing that this special place has been left to crumble to the ground.
    At least we have our memories and photos of such fun times and special friends!
    Again, beautiful photos-you captured the true essence of what Birchwood once was.

  • Carol Wells Dombrowski

    I was broken hearted when I saw these pictures. My first husband and I spent our 5-day honeymoon here in April of 1962. We flew over the Delaware Water Gap with Wally. I still have the bill – $153.90 for the entire time! We had a great time – bowling, horseback riding, roller skating, pedal boating, and just spending time with the others we met there. It was a magical place and I will never forget those wonderful memories.

  • Delynn Butler

    Thanks for sharing the pictures. Brought back memories from an early June 1981 honeymoon there. That canopy bed was why I choose Birchwood over many other Pocono resorts. It was a lovely place back then.

  • Richard Blanke

    I recently moved to the area of the resort. Took a turn today down Birchwood Road/Lane, passed the resort. Does anyone know anything about the pond, it’s quite pretty, looks like it would be nice for kayaking.

  • Dale Kidd

    My wife and I were married February 18, 1978 and honeymooned at Birchwood. It was just after the “Blizzard of ’78”. There was still a lot of snow on the ground. We decided at that time we’d go back on our 5th anniversary which we did. As circumstances would have it, there was another blizzard. Conditions were almost identical to our honeymoon. We flew over the Delaware gap, snowmobiled, ice-skated, used the ranges, indoor pool and more. On each visit we were in a lakeside chalet. Wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing your photos!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeastern_United_States_blizzard_of_1978
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/the-megalopolitan-blizzard-of-february-10-12-1983/2013/02/12/be05ae32-73a9-11e2-aa12-e6cf1d31106b_blog.html?noredirect=on

  • Angel Johnston

    Honeymooned at Birchwood with husband, Jay, 3 weeks before he went to Vietnam in 1965. We went back on our anniversary, for several years. It’s sad to see what has happened to the resort. We have a lot of wonderful memories along with a photo album of us taking part in the many activities that were offered, including an indoor pool, roller skating, hayride, my first plane ride, bowling, horseback riding, hiking Bushkill Falls, shooting range, square dancing and so many more. We have just celebrated our 54th anniversary and it’s nice to look back on fun times.
    Thank you for sharing your pictures.

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*