Sharon Springs, New York
Update - 6/26/2016
I was recently contacted by a photographer/explorer who was able to explore the grounds of The Hotel Alder in Sharon Springs. She has graciously given me permission to put some of the photos she took during her visit on this website. I've included one (below) and put a bunch more here: Hotel Alder, Sharon Springs NY. J.L.Drew (above mentioned photographer) has a bunch of great photos of other interesting sites on her Facebook page here.
Hotel Alder, Sharon Springs NY (Photo by J.L.Drew)
Sharon Springs is a very small spa/resort town about 200 miles from New York City. Several dozen hotels were built around sulfur springs in the area from 1825 to the early 1900s. Some of the hotels were impressively large while some were essentially boarding houses. The town grew up around these resorts and prospered until the great depression. At it's peak, during the height of vacation season, the population of Sharon Springs swelled to 40,000. Sharon Springs' current population is 547. The remains of once grand hotels are scattered throughout the spa area of town which is on highway 10 NE of highway 20. A few of the larger hotels are still operating along with a couple of bed and breakfasts in nicely restored buildings. Many of the buildings and houses in town are empty or abandoned. The Alder Hotel is a massive 150 room structure built in 1925 and sits unused on the northeast side of town. The road/driveway off of highway 10 has been intentionally torn up making access to the driveway impossible without a high clearance vehicle. It's possible to pull over at the entrance to the driveway but it's a high visibility spot and there are a million no trespassing signs posted. I would have loved to take a closer look but was dissuaded.
I've never been anywhere like Sharon Springs. Nicely kept houses sit next to hulking four story Victorian hotels which have been abandoned for decades. The town is far from empty. People were out working on their yards which made me feel self-conscious about photographing the abandoned structures. This was probably irrational on my part. I regret not spending more time there. The pictures I took really don't do the place justice. What I really should have done was spend the night in one of the operating hotels, talked to locals and walked around more. As it was I felt like a gawker and since the town is so small, after driving around once or twice people started to stare at me. I would like to go back someday as a guest. The countryside around Sharon Springs is beautiful. Rolling hills, forests and the huge lakes in the area like Otsego Lake would make it an amazing place to go in the fall.
Here's an article in the NY Times about plans to revive the town from 2008. I saw no signs that these plans had advanced when I was there in 2013.