The Cherryville Hotel was built in 1767 in the small township of Lehigh in Pennsylvania. It stands by the side of Pennsylvania Route 248, situated 12.5 miles north of Allentown. The hotel has been a big part of the town’s history, but sadly that didn’t stop it from being demolished in 2019.
Cherryville itself was officially founded in 1804. It was named after the many cherry trees that grew in the area. By 1874, the village had 25 homes, various stores, two blacksmiths, a hotel, and a tailor shop.
The year of the hotel’s construction has been taken from the records relating to the building since no title deeds have been found before 1865 when owners Robert and Catherine Wentz sold it on.
One notable fact that is associated with this building is that, in 1863, Samuel H. Kress was born there. Inspired by the “five and dime stores,” Kress went on to become a famous businessman, philanthropist, and founder of S. H. Kress & Co.
During his life, Kress collected notable pieces of art. Not forgetting his roots in Lehigh, the Kress Foundation gifted 60 Renaissance and Baroque paintings to the Allentown Art Museum. By the time he passed away in 1955, his fortune was estimated to be $17.5 million and his company owned 260 stores.
Since 1865, the Cherryville Hotel has changed owners several times. In 1932 the building was bought by Harry Seidel, and he ran it as a hotel and restaurant until 1958. It was first named The Cherryville Hotel and then The Cherryville Inn. The property passed into the possession of his wife until 1973.
After that, it was managed by their daughter, Betty Seidel, who turned the property into an art studio during the 1940s. Betty was the artist who designed the plate celebrating Eisenhower’s birthday in the White House in 1953.
In 1952, Betty Seidel also opened a gift shop at the former hotel. Various celebrities are known to have visited the store or enjoyed her handicrafts, including Tony Bennett, Burl Ives, and Pat Nixon.
The Cherryville Hotel became the town’s social and commercial center for some time. After Betty Seidel passed away in 2001, the building was put up for auction. Eric and Anne Bodish acquired the former hotel in 2002, paying $275,000 for the land.
Eric, an emergency medical specialist, wanted to turn it into an urgent care clinic. However, personal problems combined with water runoff and marshland prevented him from developing the land. Instead, the property was left to decline, with weeds quickly taking over the unused land and the buildings slowly deteriorating.
Town residents not only began to consider the crumbling 252-year-old hotel an eye-sore, but the building also proved to be a stumbling block to the township’s highway plans. Because the property sat right on the road, it was an impediment to widening Route 248.
Furthermore, the Turkey Hill company that sells iced tea and other frozen products wanted to expand the franchise they had there.
As part of legal proceedings, the owners were offered $46,000 for part of the property. The township only wanted 13,000 square feet of the 3.2-acre site, and the offer was based on a certified appraisal. The owners turned the offer down.
Consequently, the township was forced to begin eminent domain proceedings. This is a legal power that enables state authorities to take private property from the owners in exchange for fair compensation if they need that land for public use.
In April 2019, demolition of overgrown real estate in Cherryville began, and the site was soon razed to the ground.
These beautiful interior photographs of the abandoned hotel were taken by the blog Vacant New Jersey. You should definitely check out more of their work at VacantNewJersey.com where you can find photographs of different decaying locations and accompanying words for each location.
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