The Sad Decline of the Poconos' Resort Towns

Photographer Matt Hurst chronicles the crumbling ruins of Unity House.

Matt Hurst has been long been fascinated by the decline of the Poconos's resort industry. Much of the Philadelphia-based photographer's work focuses on buildings prior to their demolition or in some cases, renovation.

While researching the demise, one resort stood out -- "Unity House" (referred to as "White Pines" by some photographers who want to obscure the complex's exact location) a facility that served as a retreat center for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union for nearly 70 years. To Hurst, Unity House's shift from "a thriving, modern 'workers' paradise' to crumbling ruins," symbolizes the decline of not only the region but of the U.S. labor movement.


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The modernist main building is accompanied by more traditional cabin-style structures and an amphitheater, which is now being used as a community theater and music venue. But besides the performance space, the rest of Unity House remains neglected. Its decay was caused, surprisingly, not by vandals or scrappers but by the many Pennsylvania winters that have passed since its doors closed for good.

Water damage, buckling floors, and a slowly crumbling facade aside, Unity House, in Hurst's eyes, resembles "a snapshot of what much of the place looked like when it closed in 1990."

After exploring the resort, Hurst has started photographing others nearby, with plans to visit more as part of an ongoing project. Below, Hurst's photographs of Unity House, 23 years years since it was last open:  

All images courtesy Matt Hurst

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