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MOUNT AIRY LODGE Contents of Poconos resort set for auction



Published: Thu, February 24, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



For sale: a heart-shaped tub and disco mirror balls.

MOUNT POCONO, Pa. (AP) -- Heart-shaped bathtub, anyone? More than 80 of them will be auctioned off next month, along with thousands of other items -- including Engelbert Humperdinck's gold-painted headboard -- from the once-celebrated, now-shuttered Mount Airy Lodge.

Closed since 2001, the 1,200-acre resort is boarded up and falling apart. A Scranton-area businessman recently purchased it for more than $25 million, and he is widely expected to apply for a slot-machine casino license.

Popular destination

The businessman, Louis DeNaples, has hired auctioneer Bob Teel to sell pretty much everything that isn't bolted down -- and some things that are.

Teel expects the auction, to be held March 5-6, to attract antique dealers, hoteliers and restaurateurs, and nostalgia-seekers who stayed at Mount Airy and want a little piece of the Poconos.

"This sale has generated tremendous interest, not only because of the items but because of the history," he said.

Mount Airy once was the largest resort in the Poconos, its jingle ("beautiful Mount Airy Lodge") airing incessantly in the New York media market, its nearly 900 rooms booked months in advance by conventioneers, honeymooners and middle-class families from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Singer liked room 519

Some of the biggest names in show business appeared there regularly, from Humperdinck to Bob Hope to Tony Bennett. Humperdinck always stayed in Room 519, outfitted especially for him with a sunken whirlpool tub, round bed, faux-gilded facade and billowing drapes.

In Mount Airy's 1960s and '70s heyday, when it grossed upward of $50 million a year and sold more liquor than any other licensee in Pennsylvania, the resort "was really the class of the Northeast, never mind the Poconos," said Dario Belardi, a retired Caesars executive who once did consulting work for Mount Airy.

"They were legendary. Every major star of the time appeared there," Belardi said. "It's unfortunate that time passed it by."

Mountain of debt

Did it ever. The lodge kept the tacky '70s and '80s decor in place at a time when other vacation destinations, like Disney World and the Caribbean, were gaining in popularity. Faced with a mountain of debt, Mount Airy closed in 2001, two years after its majority owner, Emil Wagner, committed suicide.

The years have not been kind. Damaged ceiling tiles, peeling paint and wallpaper, and faded carpeting line hallway after hallway. Black water fills the Olympic-sized indoor pool. The cavernous kitchen needs a thorough cleaning. The entire place is damp and musty.

Items to be sold include about 260 RCA 27-inch televisions, commercial-grade restaurant equipment, cast-stone statues, parquet flooring, Chippendale-style furniture, crystal chandeliers, disco balls, paintings and prints, paddle and bumper boats, a nine-hole miniature golf course, and a brass-and-iron safe door. And, of course, the bathtubs, although buyers should have plenty of disinfectant ready.




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