By Peter Becker
HAWLEY – The hotel dream waited forlornly until the end of World War II.
As explained in Part 1, what we know today as The Settler's Inn began as a project of Hawley community leaders who had a vision for a new wave of tourism following the creation of Lake Wallenpaupack.
Construction of the Hawley Community Hotel was begun in 1927, funded by community members who bought shares. The Casey family of Scranton, who ran the grand Casey Hotel, was expected to operate it. The need for a grand and modern hotel with fine dining was stressed, to accommodate the expected flood of tourists.
The Stock Market crash of Oct. 29, 1929, however, put that vision on hold. The hotel sat unfinished for 18 years. Hawley native June Strait, who is 92, said that the share holders- including her father- "lost everything" of their investments when the Stock Market collapsed. Furthermore, when the hotel was finally opened, she said the share holders were still not paid.
In 1947 the Joseph D’ Annibale and his brothers bought it and finished construction. They opened for business in the summer of 1948. The inaugural event was for a family named Rodgers.
Joseph D’ Annibale was from New Jersey; his wife Magdalene, who died in 2000, was from Wayne County. They lived at Spinnler's Point, Tafton.
They called the hotel, the Tudor Manor.
The tourist boom was finally happening.
The Hawley Chamber of Commerce was at the forefront of promoting the new wave of tourism and welcoming visitors to the area. They officially changed their name to Hawley- Lake Wallenpaupack Chamber of Commerce.
What had been a relatively sparse lake coastline and placid lake, was seeing the arrival of new private communities and resorts, and a growing presence of motor boats.
"Vacation time is pleasure time here," a 1950 ad for Tudor Manor declared. The "beautiful Poconos" and "renowned Lake Wallenpaupack for every aquatic sport"- only five minutes away- were trumpeted. Fine dining and a chestnut bar were highlighted.
They also put in an outdoor swimming pool.
Popular with fishermen
By the time of the 1961 street directory, it was known as the White Deer Inn, still owned by D’ Annibale.
A book, Fishless Days, Angling Nights: Classic Stories, Reminiscences, and Lore by Sparse Grey Hackle and Nick Lyons, tells of their stay at the White Deer Inn back in June of 1961. After a disappointing day catching nothing on the Dyberry Creek, they returned to their lodging in Hawley. "Joe D'Annible laughed at us and our fishing, went into the kitchen and returned with a glass tray containing eight or 10 lovely brookies which some country kid had snatched from some hidden beaver pond."
Page 2 of 3 - Their host made breakfast for them with the brookies. The authors note D'Annible "grinned ear to ear," and "never lost his cigar butt" when he presented the fish to the weary anglers.
At some point the D' Annibales continued to hold the mortgage while others owned the corporation and ran the business. The corporation name was Tudor Lodge, Inc.
A boy’s group home was also operated there for at least a short time. The dates have not been determined.
The D’ Annibales sold the inn to Joseph E. Barnes and Robert H. Goodman on Sept. 15, 1975. It continued to be known as the White Deer Inn. Later it would be known as Tudor Lodge.
On Sept. 29, 1977, the deed was conveyed back to Joseph and Magdalene D'Annibale, from Wayne County Sheriff Henry Kalinwoski.
On March 17, 1978 the the DiAnnibales sold the property to Joseph and Roberta Semonski.
Their six daughters had become famous as a regular singing group on the Lawrence Welk TV program from 1975 to 1977. The Semonski Sisters, from the eldest to the youngest, included Diane, Donna, Joanne, Valerie, Audrey and Michelle. Diane left the group in 1976 to pursue her own singing career; the others continued to perform together, at Hawley.
June Strait recalled that the parents had local roots here.
They opened for business on May 7, 1977.
It was renamed the Semonski Sisters Country Lodge, and the girls sang there. The family ran it only as a restaurant, not as a hotel.
A gourmet chef , Arnold Lopez, who had worked for the Lawrence Welk Welcome Inn of California, came to work for the Semonskis.
Joseph Semonski reported in his announcement that other members of the Lawrence Welk program could be expected to stop by on occasion, and Lawrence Welk himself said he would visit when his itinerary brought him to the area. Whether he ever did, was not learned.
Dick Murphy said that he was the real estate broker for the sale of the hotel to the Semonski. They had a cousin in Blooming Grove who referred them to Murphy.
June Strait, of Hawley, remembered being there are least once to hear them. She said the girls were waiting tables as well as performing.
The Semonski family lived on the second and third floors.
According to www.welkmusicalfamily.com, the youngest of the sisters, Michelle Semonski, is married and lives in the Poconos, performing as a solo artist.
The Semonskis had already closed the restaurant and wanted to sell, when the Genzlingers were running another hotel and restaurant in town.
Meanwhile at the Eddy
In 1978, Grant and Jeanne Genzlinger leased the historic Eddy Hotel on the lower end of Church Street in Hawley, at Welwood Avenue.
Page 3 of 3 - Built in 1850, the Genzlingers made use of the idea that some of Hawley’s early inhabitants were familiar with the place, and called it, "Settler’s Inn."
Jeanne’s family grew up in the area; Grant’s family had a cabin at the lake. He comes from near Philadelphia. Before they leased the Eddy Hotel, while in college during the summer Grant worked in the kitchen at a restaurant along Route 507 close to Route 6, later taken over by Tanglwood. Jeanne was the manager.
They ran Settler’s Inn at the Eddy location for two years when in 1980 they learned that Semonski family was selling their property.
Along with the Genzlingers, the Settler’s Inn at that time was owned by, Scott Buehler, Dave Jones and Madeline Dresibach. They opened at their new location, 4 Main Avenue in Hawley, on Nov. 25, 1980.
The new owners restored it as an inn. The lodging on the second and third floors underwent major renovations, making the sleeping rooms larger. It went from a 50 room hotel to 21 rooms for lodging. Private baths were put in.
Within a few years, they were given the old blueprints for the hotel, that the architect had left in a boarding house where he stayed on Hudson Street. With the plans, the Genzlingers restored the hotel and its décor in the East Coast Arts & Crafts Mission style.
Their preservation work was recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation Historic Hotel of America.
The Genzlinger family also bought the Sayre Mansion in Bethlehem 11 years ago and restored it, and in 2011, bought what was originally J.S. O’Connor cut glass factory in Hawley and made Ledges Hotel.
Settler’s Inn became a prime example of fine lodging and dining that has become a hallmark of the Pocono Mountains. The Pocono’s Lake Region had become a tourist haven as was envisioned by Hawley community leaders over 80 years ago.