Inn At Lake Joseph History


Our Catskill lodge has a rich history and a country retreat legacy we strive to reflect in our guest rooms and amenities. In the latter part of the 19th century, Thomas Hunt Talmage, a businessman from Brooklyn, built a grand summer residence on Lake Joseph high in Sullivan County’s Catskill Mountains complete with 2,000 acres of wilderness.

However, just prior to the completion of Talmage House, Thomas died. A few years later, a group of lost Dominican Sisters from Long Island were looking for property as a new retreat. With a horse and carriage, they accidentally turned onto a secluded road and came across Talmage House. Mrs. Talmage sold the estate to the sisters and became a close friend and supporter of the order.

As time passed, the Dominican Sisters developed a self-contained retreat which included farming facilities, a boarding and day school, children’s camps, a convent, and a drug rehabilitation center. The addition of guesthouses and cottages made Lake Joseph a major family vacation destination. In the 1930s, the Talmage House became the vacation retreat of Cardinals Hayes, Spellman and Cooke. The main house hosted many international dignitaries and celebrities over the years and became known as the Cardinal House.

The facility then known as Saint Joseph’s reached its peak in the late 1960s and closed after more than 80 years of service in the late 1970s. Most of the existing buildings were razed and the land was returned to its original wilderness state, leaving the majestic Talmage House to fall into disrepair. Then, in the early 1980s, two lost Sunday drivers Ivan and Monique turned down a secluded road to seek directions back to the main highway. There stood the Talmage House waiting to be rediscovered, a bit ruffled but in reasonably good condition. These two Sunday drivers immediately envisioned the dwelling as a fine country inn and went to work on restoring it to its former glory, carrying over the traditions and tranquility of the past into the present.   The couple welcomed their first guests to the Inn  in 1984.   After Monique’s passing in the mid eighties, Ivan remarried and innkeepers Ivan and Rue proudly welcome visitors to this day.