The Irving Cliff Hotel
HONESDALE, PA — At its December 4 meeting, the Honesdale Borough Council approved a request from the Wayne County Historical Society to mark the site of the former Irving Cliff Hotel. James Jennings of the Parks and Recreation Committee read aloud a letter from Larry Highhouse and Roger Hermans describing a project that will outline the footprint of the hotel that once occupied a portion of what is now Gibbons Memorial Park. When completed, the project will give park visitors a glimpse into local history to go along with breathtaking views of Honesdale today.
Not as famous as Devils Tower in Wyoming or Utah’s Natural Arches, Irving Cliff is the rocky precipice overlooking Honesdale and home to the star that shines during the Christmas season. It stands some 300 feet above Main and Church streets and is reputedly the spot on which Philip Hone, then mayor of New York City, and famous American author Washington Irving picnicked in 1841.
Irving, best known for literary works celebrating the natural beauty of the mid-Hudson Valley and Spain’s Alhambra, was said to be quite impressed with both the cliff and the view it afforded of what was then called Dyberry Forks. Shortly thereafter, Dyberry Forks became Honesdale and the picnic site became Irving Cliff.
Forty years later, in 1883, John Alden Wood began constructing the Irving Cliff Hotel. Four stories tall, with 125 guest rooms, the hotel was scheduled to open June 22, 1889. It burned to the ground on May 28, 1889, and although no official cause of the fire has been recorded, rooftop tar work was blamed by some insiders.
All that is left of the grand hotel today are faint traces of the foundation. But if the Highhouse-Hermans project comes to fruition, Gibbons Park visitors will be able to see where it once stood and imagine how magnificent it must have been.
More information about the Irving Cliff Hotel can be found at the Wayne County Historical Society (www.waynehistory pa.org) and Irving Cliff Brewery, 2 Chapel St., 570/647-6044, www.irvingcliffbrewery.com.