The construction of the Hotel Oneonta began what was considered the “Golden Era” of Harvey’s Lake. The Oneonta was the best resort hotel of the area, open from late May to September. Independence Day was said to be the highpoint of the year.
“Crowds would assemble on Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square to catch the trolleys that ran to the Lake from 4:00 A.M. until 11:00 P.M.” The Fourth at Harvey’s Lake was the annual “basket picnic.”
“Tumbling out of the trolley at the Oneonta station with brigades of swinging baskets, they strolled down Oneonta Hill in awe of the huge hotel overlooking the Lake.” The hotel was found between the shoreline and Oneonta Hill. Most recently, a former general store and post office occupied the site.
“Seventy rooms filled the second and third floors with two sets of public baths on each floor. Many of the rooms were suites with private baths and fireplaces. The eclectic exterior featured gables and towers in English half-timber with a distinctive veranda and balcony. The porch was sixteen feet wide and 343 feet long.”
“A line of sailboats was available for guests. A twenty foot flag was raised in front of the hotel and red shale paths were laid around the hotel grounds. The trolley brought crowds to the Oneonta for Saturday night dances, and the hotel guests enjoyed concerts during luncheon and dinner hours. In 1899 a large boathouse was built for the Oneonta, and its landing became the principal stop for the steamboats.”
The golden era of Harvey’s Lake was approaching its end, as on Sunday, Feb. 2, 1919, the Oneonta had a destructive fire. Farmers in the area responded, as holes were cut in the lake ice and a bucket brigade was formed to save what they could.
It was a losing battle, as within three hours the only remains of the Oneonta was a brick chimney, fireplace, vault and foundation. For some time the Oneonta company had been in default on the mortgage to the hotel. In August 1919, the bank that held the mortgage foreclosed on the estate and sold it to three area investors, who laid out the area in building lots.