Today, the historic building of Castle Inn is home to a diverse mixture of shops and offices, including a Victorian Ice Cream shop, Toy Shoppe, Spa, Art Gallery, vintage and antique shops, etc.... and the annual jazz festival. When it was built in 1906, in the tourist-bustling area of Delaware Water Gap, it's construction was architecturally significant. It was built of poured concrete and chestnut tree trunks, one of the earliest uses of poured concrete construction in the United States. It was the first hotel in the area to run strictly on electricity and in fact had its own generating plant, which not only powered the Inn, but also supplied electricity for the lights and trolleys of Delaware Water Gap. Electricity made it possible for the Castle to have its own ice cream parlor. The Inn was built with all the modern amenities such as bowling alleys, swimming pool, tennis courts, billiard tables and barber shop.
The Music Hall where guests were entertained after dinner was reputed to have magnificent acoustics and in 1912, John Philip Sousa marched down Main Street with his band and into the Music Hall to perform to the delight of those lucky enough to have a ticket. Other famous celebrities like Enrico Caruso is said to have also performed there. The Music Hall burned down in the 1980's but it's site is host to the annual Celebration of the Arts Jazz Festival every year.
Because of the areas reputation for clean, therapeutic air and water, it attracted not only tourists seeking a respite from the fumes of cities like New York and Philadelphia, but also athletes training for events. One of these was Gene Tunney, who stayed and trained at Castle Inn before the famous "Long Count" match with Jack Dempsey. Gene Tunney won this controversial bout and became the heavyweight champion of the world, a decision which is still talked about to this day.
The advent of the automobile brought the flow of tourism in DWG to a trickle, as people were no longer dependent on trains and their Stations but were free to explore many areas. Most of the hotels in the area disappeared, but Castle Inn then began its second life as the home of Shawnee Press and Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.
Big Band leader, Fred Waring, bought the complex in the 1950's and converted the hotel rooms in the main building to offices. He ran his music empire from here as well as the Waring Blender company that he owned. The Pennsylvanians rehearsed in the Music Hall and slept in the rooms above it, before leaving on tour across the country. Fred Waring also devised a method of teaching large groups of people to sing. This method was taught in workshops at Castle Inn to choral leaders and teachers from all over the United States. Fred Waring won the Congressional Medal of Honor for the "man that taught America to sing".
Fred Waring died in 1984. His wife Virginia Waring continued to run Shawnee Press and eventually sold Shawnee Press and Castle Inn buildings separately. I, Theresa Veltri, and my husband, Prank Paccione, bought the buildings in 2005. We embarked on a lifelong mission to restore the dilapidated structures and preserve this wonderful piece of American history. We have re-created a Victorian ice cream parlor on the site of the original; we have turned the former bowling alleys into small individually run shops. We have turned the warehouse, which was annexed by Fred to the main building, into an antiques auction house with a quaint cafe. We have restored the Dining Hall to a banquet facility.
Bit by bit, we painstakingly restore and improve the building toward the end of making them economically viable and self sustaining, so that the building can remain open to the public. We continue to do this with our personal funds. We hope that further exposure such as National Geographic can bring, will help to fuel some of these improvements well into the future.