Harveys Lake History

Brokenshire's Harvey's Lake Hotel

Brokenshire's Harvey's Lake Hotel
Courtesy, Bonnie Brokenshire Drust

From the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s Fred W. Brokenshire's Harvey's Lake Hotel at Warden Place was the Lake's principal showcase hotel.

The hotel was originally built as a summer mansion by a wealthy couple based in the New York City metropolitan area. Their summer estate included 70 acres of prime real estate and waterfront between Warden Place and Sunset.

A portion of the estate was later developed by the well-known Kingston restauranteur, Fred W. Brokenshire, as a signature destination for dining and hotel service and as a winter sports center.


The Teter Estate

Walter Clark Teter (1863-1929) was an investment banker in New York City. In 1917 he developed the Borough of Teterboro in New Jersey, near New York City, where he created the earliest airport for the NYC metropolitan area. The borough also became a major early site for the aviation industry.

Teter married Anna Edwards, the widow of Dr. David T. Jones (1856-1894), in a private Kingston ceremony in November 1900. Anna Edwards Teter was one of three children of Daniel Edwards (1825-1901), who co-founded the Kingston Coal Company. The Borough of Edwardsville is named for Edwards. Upon his death in 1901, his three children inherited his $1.2 million dollar estate. The Teters resided on 126th Street in New York City.

On April 1. 1902, the Teters' only child, Margaret Clark Teter, died at age 7 months, during a family trip to Atlantic City. She was buried at the Forty Fort Cemetery. In mid-April 1909, a Louis C. Tiffany stained- glass memorial window titled Christ Blessing the Little Children was dedicated at the First Presbyterian Church, Kingston, in memory of deceased members of the Edwards and Cobleigh families, including Margaret Clark Teter. The Cobleighs had holdings at Harvey's Lake and were descendants of Daniel Edwards' wife, Margaret Cobleigh Edwards (1825-1901). (Following the Agnes Flood in June 1972, the Presbyterian church building was converted to various non-profit uses. In February 1984, several of the church's stained-glass windows, including the 1909 Teter-Cobleigh window, were sold at a New York City auction to private bidders.)

In 1904 and 1905 the Teters leased the Lake cottage of Helen F. Barber, daughter of Col. Albert P. Barber, once commander of the Pennsylvania State militia. In December 1905, after the death of Helen Barber, the Teters purchased the Barber cottage from her estate. The Teters then built their Lake summer mansion variously described as having 18 to 20 rooms with a ballroom. Later, they had one of the largest and impressive boat houses at the Lake which was destroyed in an August 1916 fire.

Warden Place - Teter Cottage on Hill, 1916
FCP Collection

Between 1905 and 1926 the Teters purchased additional Lake property which eventually totaled 70 acres with 810 feet of Lake front stretching from Warden Place to Sunset. A 1912 acquisition from Eugene A. Rhodes was particularly interesting as it was not reported in local newspapers but was briefly noted in New York City and Philadelphia accounts. At this time, despite the Teter holdings at the Lake, they held little or no Lake front. As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer on April 1, 1912:

Mrs. Walter C. Teter, of New York City, daughter of the late Daniel Edwards, a multi-millionaire, of Kingston, has been annoyed so much by bathers at her Harvey's Lake cottage that she has purchased all the land fronting her mansion and will hereafter see that it is secluded in the manner that she desires. Fronting her cottage is the only part of the lake with a sand bottom. For years it has been the haven of bathers there from in the early morning until late at night during the summer season. Each summer, Mrs. Teter entertains many guests from the big cities of the east at her cottage. The presence of so many bathers in front of her property has been annoying and the only way to get the desired seclusion was to buy the land. This she has done and from this forth the bathers must seek other quarters for their sport.

At the Lake, Anna Edwards Teter entertained a wide circle of socially prominent guests from New York City, Washington D.C., Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton, sometimes with a full orchestra during a Saturday evening. Walter C. Teter, an expert horseman, took daily rides, each morning and evening, from his Lake stable into the nearby countryside. In October 1921 the Teters moved from New York City to a 15-room, 4-bath mansion in Montclair, New Jersey.

At age 65, Walter C. Teter died in Montclair in January 1929. His fortune was left to his widow, Anna Edwards Teter, who died in Montclair in April 1931. The Teter Estate, including the Teter investments in Teterboro, New Jersey, was placed in a trust with the Kingston Bank and Trust Company for the benefit of nieces, nephews and other relatives of Anna Edwards Teter.

Forty Fort Cemetery
Flood Memorial
December 2020

Walter C. Teter and Anna Edwards were buried alongside their infant daughter, Margaret, at the Forty Fort Cemetery. On June 23, 1972, during Tropical Storm Agnes, flooding dislodged and swept away an estimated 2,500 graves at the cemetery. There were 1,410 caskets or remains recovered, nearly all unidentified, which were reinterred at the Memorial Shrine Cemetery, Dallas. Among the unrecovered 1,000 graves were the Teter family. A park and granite memorial at the cemetery now comemorates the site of the lost graves.

By August 1931 there was published speculation that the Teter summer home at the Lake was to be developed into a major hotel site, but the plan never materialized.

It was not until July 1940 that the Teter Estate seriously sought to liquidate its Lake holdings. The Harry F. Goeringer real estate agency listed the Teter holdings at the Lake for sale. The listing included the large main residence, a 7-room cottage, a double-frame home, barn and out buildings, along with the Teters' extensive acreage and Lake frontage. The agency offered a discount to entice a prompt sale.

A month later the Teter property was sold to P.J. Connolly, Forty Fort, and to his nephew, John Connolly, Luzerne. P. J. Connolly was the director of the Pennsylvania State Employment Service. On Labor Day, September 2, 1940, the Connollys opened the Teter Estate property at the Lake for the sale of Lake lots.

In mid-March 1945 the Connollys sold the Teter summer home to Fred W. Brokenshire, a Kingston restauranteur. The site encompassed four acres with 300 feet of Lake front. The Connollys would continue to sell the 66- acre balance of the Teter Estate at the Lake for home sites.

Lakeside Inn - Warden Place, 1916
FCP Collection

Unlike the Lakeside Inn (1914-1978) at Warden Place, which was along Lakeside Drive, the Brokenshire hotel was built away from the Lake road and water front. The Teters constructed their summer home out of public view about 350 feet away from Lakeside Drive in the general vicinity of the former but now vacated intersection of High Street and Connolly Road. A path led from the hotel downhill to the Lake. The Teters sought to shield the public's view of their cottage from the Lake drive with a glorious row of large Blue Spruce trees along Lakeside Drive which ironically instead became an early public attraction. A now vacated road from Lakeside Drive reached up to the Teters' summer place. But Brokenshire's hotel was accessed by driveways from First Street and Connolly Road.


Fred W. Brokenshire

Fred W. Brokenshire
Courtesy, Bonnie
Brokenshire Drust

The Brokenshire family was prominent on the West Side of the Wyoming Valley. The father, Fred Brokenshire (1872-1950), was born in Cornwall, England, in 1872 and he came to America at age 9 with his parents. He was employed by the Hudson Coal Company for more than 50 years and was a mine foreman at the Loree Colliery. He was a councilman for Kingston Borough and was its Burgess (or Mayor) in 1944-1949. His brother, Samuel Brokenshire (1871-1956) was elected five times as Burgess of Plymouth Borough.

Fred Brokenshire's son, Fred W. Brokenshire (1902-1955), was a laborer, certified miner, and foreman with the Hudson Coal Company for 18 years. But in October 1930 the Hudson operations closed on the West Side. In early 1933 Brokenshire opened Brokenshire's Tavern at Harrington's Hotel, 238 Wyoming Avenue, Kingston. Brokenshire's experienced the historic flooding of the Susquehanna River in mid-March 1936, which was unsurpassed until Tropical Storm Agnes in June 1972. Harrington's was formerly the Exchange Hotel (1804-1959), which was the oldest continuously operating hotel in northeastern Pennsylvania. The Exchange Hotel closed at the end of March 1959. Purchased by the Kingston National Bank, the hotel was razed to create a parking lot for the bank.

Church's Drug, left. Brokenshire's and Exchange Hotel, right.
March 13, 1936 Flood
FCP Collection

In mid-July 1940 Brokenshire relocated his tavern to 220 Wyoming Avenue, Kingston, the former site of Church's Pharmacy, which originally opened as a general store in 1835 and as a drug store in 1845. Church's was the oldest pharmacy on the West Side of the Wyoming Valley. Brokenshire renovated the Church building with a Mexican-style basement dining room, two ground floor dining areas, and the Deck Room on the second floor in a ship or nautical design. A chicken or tenderloin steak dinner was thirty-five cents.

In April 1942 Brokenshire purchased the historic Orchard Knob farm on Center Hill Road near the Huntsville Reservoir. The farm formerly belonged to Dr. Frederick C. Johnson who had reconstructed the Colonial-designed home in 1906-1908. Johnson was the former editor and major stockholder of the Wilkes-Barre Record newspaper. Brokenshire's son, Fred W. Brokenshire, Jr. (1926-2006), was raised at the farm. In May 1942, Fred W. Brokenshire sought the Republican nomination in the primary election for the Fifth Legislative District in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The district included the West Side communities from Plymouth Township to Kingston Borough. Brokenshire lost the primary race to Republican John Mock who won the November general election against incumbent Democrat John L. Boney.

Fred W. Brokenshire and
Guest-Deck Room, c. 1940
Courtesy, Bonnie Brokenshire Drust

In September 1943 Brokenshire also purchased the Kingston Diner at 254 Wyoming Avenue, Kingston, from its owner, Robert Meixell, who was serving overseas in the U.S. Army. The diner was originally opened by Andrew Bittenbender in June 1933. Brokenshire operated both his tavern and diner until November 1945, when he sold the Kingston Diner to Lt. Elbert (Bing) H. McIntyre, who had spent the last four years with the armed forces.

Fred W. Brokenshire planned to lease the Teter Lake home for ten years to the Swoyersville Commercial Club, a social club which promoted outdoor and athletic activities. Its prominent members included, A.J. Sordoni, Rulison Evans, Aldo Franconi, Howard Risley and many other Wyoming Valley business leaders. Sordoni was owner of the Sordoni Construction Company and a former State Senator; Rulison Evans was president of the Scranton-Spring Brook Water Company. Aldo Franconi owned Franconi Auto Parts, Kingston; and Howard Risley was publisher of the Dallas Post. But in fact, since its formation in June 1933 the club had declined to near dormancy by 1945, when it sought to reform as the Harvey's Lake Commercial Club and applied for a State liquor license for the Lake premises.

Kingston Diner
Florence Brokenshire
(Mrs. Fred W. Brokenshire, Jr.)
Courtesy, Bonnie
Brokenshire Drust

The State Liquor Control Board denied a liquor license to the club because a new license for the club would exceed a LCB quota for the area, and there was an issue whether the new organization was property formed from the remnants of its 1933 charter. Nevertheless, in conformity with the usual practice with Lake-related liquor licenses, Judge Thomas F. Farrell overruled the LCB and granted the club a liquor license in September 1945.

The Harvey's Lake Commercial Club had ambitious plans, but a short life-span. In November 1945 it sought to acquire 60-foot, 18-feet wide, 30,000- pound surplus U.S. Navy barge in Kearney, New Jersey, to serve as a swimming and boating dock at its Lake front. It would be freighted, unassembled, to the Lake over the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The plan was shortly aborted.

In February 1946 the club acquired eight U.S. Navy rafts from Kearney which were shipped to the Lake's Alderson railroad station. The large 1,800-pound rafts floated on pontoons, and each could carry 18 persons. They were to be pulled over the Lake's winter ice to Warden Place to await the thaw. Their intended use was never clear and later two of the rafts were listed for sale.

The Commercial Club continued to operate through 1947, but events were largely to cater organizational gatherings, luncheons, or special events.

Brokenshire's Harvey's Lake Hotel
Courtesy, Bonnie Brokenshire Drust

In early March 1948, Brokenshire announced he was assuming direct control of the operations as Brokenshire's Harvey's Lake Hotel. The Commercial Club still sponsored special events in 1948 at the hotel, but its last event was the third-annual Wilkes College Alumni Association dinner-dance on Saturday, April 29, 1948, after which the club seemingly dissolved.

For the 1948 summer season, dinner music was offered by Chauncey A. Roth (1911-1992). A 1928 graduate of Coughlin High School, Chauncey A. Roth attended Wilkes College and Wake Forest College. A WWII veteran, he served with the Special Services Division of the Army Air Force as piano accompaniment for celebrated soloists on tours at military facilities. After his service he worked for various U.S. government agencies. He was also a gifted actor with the Little Theatre and Showcase Theatre.

During the 1948-49 winter season, Brokenshire's hotel advertised itself as a winter sports center. As the Wilkes-Barre Record newspaper reported on September 16, 1948:

Installations for winter sports are under way at the Harvey's Lake Hotel, and will be completed within a short time, Fred Brokenshire, owner and operator or the resort, said last night.
A skating rink is about completed, and a slide for sledding and skiing is now being built on the mountain in the rear of the hotel, east of Warden Place. The rink will be 100 feet square, and will be flooded as soon as cold weather approached. In the summer the rink will be used for tennis and quoits.
The slide will be approximately 200 yards long. Trees are now being felled to make way for the long sled-way. The rink will be completed this week, while the slid is expected to be ready by the middle of October, according to Mr. Brokenshire. Ice boating and skating on the lake will be another feature, the hotel owner said.

Progress on the winter improvements were further reported in the Sunday Independent on December 26, 1948:

With the increasing expansion of the Back Mountain region in stride with the new industries and the construction of numerous homes for workers in these plants, one of the big advancements in this region's progress has escaped notice.
The snow and winter weather serves to remind some residents that the Back Mountain is forging ahead as a winter resort, and the gentleman responsible for this notoriety is F.W. Brokenshire, owner and manager of the Harvey's Lake Hotel at [Warden Place].
Harvey's Lake Hotel is listed in the "Winter Sports in Pennsylvania" guidebook for 1948-49 issued by the Vacation and Recreation Bureau of the Pennsylvania Department of Commerce at Harrisburg.
During the past year, Mr. Brokenshire established a 200-yard ski run, one 200-yard toboggan run, artificial ice-skating rink, and facilities for ice-hockey games.
Mr. Brokenshire states that he has received numerous inquiries concerning the new Harvey's Lake Hotel winter resort from residents in all parts of the east. Transportation at present is provided via the Lehigh Valley Railroad to Wilkes-Barre and bus from the city to Harvey's Lake.
The hotel also has horse-drawn sleighs available, and Mr. Brokenshire says that organized parties are part of the winter sports program.

Hotel Dining Room
Courtesy, Bonnie Brokenshire Drust

The 1949 summer season at the hotel boasted a new, modern cocktail lounge and dining room, and dancing every Saturday night. In August, Betty White, a New York City honeymoon planner, visited Harvey's Lake and was impressed with Brokenshire's Harvey's Lake Hotel. She agreed to serve as Brokenshire's agent to recommend and book honeymooners at the Lake hotel. Brokenshire began to advertise his hotel as a honeymoon destination in the New York Times and Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspapers.

The Harvey's Lake Hotel had 30 furnished rooms, all with a view. The first floor had an inviting lobby, dining room, cocktail lounge and large game room. A lower level hosted the Marine Dining Room which seated 100 guests. Here, Saturday night orchestras entertained dancing on a "plastic floor." The floor was a relatively new product, a synthetic shinny substitute for linoleum which resisted sliding, cigarette burns, alcohol stains and required less maintenance than other flooring.

Hotel Cocktail Lounge
Courtesy, Bonnie Brokenshire Drust

The hotel's kitchen was open from 7 am to 12 pm. Breakfast was served on an enclosed porch with views of the Lake. Common areas had ready access to radios and records for music. Beverage and food service were available to guests outside in lawn chairs, which also served as sun-bathing spots.

On the Lake beach there were two large motor boats for Lake tours. Hotel guests could also access the 27-hole Irem Temple Golf Club in Dallas. The Mohawk Riding Academy offered horseback rides at Sunset, or guests could enjoy Hanson's Amusement Park or the smaller Sunset Park at Sunset. Scenic airplane rides over the Lake were available at Smith's Flying Service near Alderson. Evening movies nightly were offered at the Hanson and Sandy Beach Drive-In theatres.

Marine Dining Room
Courtesy, Bonnie Brokenshire Drust

In late April 1950 Brokenshire's offered nightly television in the new Marine Dining Room. There were no local television stations at the time. The earliest TV station in the area was WBRE-TV, which did not air until January 1, 1953. But at higher elevations, and with patience and luck, it was possible to pull in television reception from New York City before local TV stations were operating. In early October 1950 Brokenshire also offered television viewing of the World Series baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Yankees won 4-0.

Game Room
Courtesy, Bonnie Brokenshire Drust

In the early 1950s Brokenshire's continued to offer a haven for dinner and dancing, with special dinners or an a-la-carte menu. It also catered banquets, weddings and parties. On April 12, 1950 the Harvey's Lake Lions Club celebrated its Charter Night, the formal recognition of the club by Lions International. The club was originally organized on February 4, 1950, by Bernard [Ben] C. Banks, Sr., at the Banks home with Calvin McHose as president and Banks as first vice-president. Ben Banks was the founder of the American Asphalt Paving Company. McHose was once a principal of Laketon High School and later the tax collector for Lake Township. At this time, Henry W. Krzywicki was the hotel steward. Krzywicki was a WWI veteran who once operated Henri's Restaurant in Plymouth.

Hotel Porch
Courtesy, Bonnie Brokenshire Drust

In December 1954 Brokenshire, whose health was declining, listed both the Lake hotel and his Kingston restaurant for lease or sale, but there were no interested purchasers. On May 14, 1955, Brokenshire opened his Marine Dining Room for the season with music by the Lake View Four.

On June 6, 1955, Fred W. Brokenshire sought to test his 15-year-old, 250 horsepower speed boat for the season. His passengers were his son, Fred W. Brokenshire, Jr., a nephew, James Brokenshire, a friend, Robert Griffith, Luzerne, and Griffith's 5-year-old son, Robert Griffith, Jr. The boat stalled a few hundred yards from shore. As Brokenshire restarted the craft the motor exploded and Fred W. Brokenshire, Jr., was hurled into the Lake. The other four occupants of the boat jumped into the Lake to escape the flames.

Fred W. Brokenshire, Jr. at Hotel
Courtesy, Bonnie Brokenshire Drust

The accident was observed by Stanley Urbanski, a neighbor, and his 11-year-old daughter, Cynthia. They quickly set out in their own motor boat to rescue the uninjured Brokenshire party. The Harvey's Lake Fire Company responded, towed the flaming boat to shore and doused the fire.

Fred W. Brokenshire, 65, died suddenly on December 19, 1955. Following the loss of Brokenshire, the estate continued operating the hotel but less advertising was noticeable. There was a substantial ad for a sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel for $2.25. In December 1955, ice-skating was free to lunch and dinner patrons, and a New Year's Eve party was open for reservations.

Fred W. Brokenshire
Courtesy, Bonnie
Brokenshire Drust

There were occasional ads in 1956 which offered full services for hotel rooms, dining and catering. The infrequent final ads were in August 1957 for daily dinners and music by the John Derr Trio. No advertising appeared in 1959, or in later years, but an article noted an engagement party in August 1959 at the hotel. Limited evidence suggests the hotel last operated in 1962 when the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue claimed it was owed $26.51 for sales taxes during the year. In 1969 the property was sold by the county for unpaid local taxes, but the county court set aside the tax sale because the tax sale notice to the Brokenshire estate was defective. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the local court decision. The hotel was razed in these final years and in 1970 the property was sold by the estate and the land was parceled out for residential development.


Thanks! to Bonnie Brokenshire Drust, grand-daughter of Fred W. Brokenshire, for photographs and very helpful information, and also to her brother, Fred M. Brokenshire. They are the children of Fred W. Brokenshire, Jr., and Florence Wilkes Brokenshire. This article finally covers a lost and long-sought history of Brokenshire's Harveys Lake Hotel and would not have been possible without their support. FCP


© Copyright December 2020 F. Charles Petrillo