The Paramount, also recognized as the Best Western Paramount, stands as a once-glorious hotel nestled in the quaint Hamlet of Parksville, New York, just a stone’s throw away from the charming town of Liberty, New York. Now a hauntingly abandoned structure, the once-bustling resort fell to a devastating fire in October of the year 2000. The inferno ravaged the lobby, the two-story office area, a conference space, kitchen, and the lively nightclub, leaving behind a solemn reminder of the hotel’s former grandeur.
The Paramount traces its beginnings to the early 1900s when it first emerged as a modest boarding house. Its initial owner, seeking refuge in the serene surroundings of Parksville due to a tuberculosis diagnosis, embarked on a journey that would shape the property’s rich history. Over the years, ownership was passed down to his grandson, Fred Gasthalter. As the years went on, the Paramount witnessed a steady expansion, with an array of new structures gradually joining the original building, enhancing the allure of the property, each time offering more for guests.
During the 1960s, the hotel became a popular haven for hunting enthusiasts, who were drawn to its pristine accommodations and the promise of prompt, hearty breakfasts to fuel their early morning expeditions.
As decades passed, the hotel underwent a significant transition, aligning itself with the prestigious Best Western franchise and adopting the name of Best Western Paramount. Despite this change, the property remained under the ownership of Fred Gasthalter. For Fred, this affiliation with Best Western marked a triumphant milestone, which he enthusiastically described as “the greatest thing yet.”
In the early hours of October 16, 2000, at approximately 3 AM, the front desk attendant at the hotel received a frantic call reporting billowing smoke in the kitchen. Acting swiftly, she dialed 911 to alert emergency services of the potential fire. In response, over 100 firefighters from six different companies rushed to the scene, managing to prevent the hotel’s complete annihilation. Despite their valiant efforts, the lobby, nightclub, kitchen, and offices were tragically lost to the flames.
The day prior to the inferno, the hotel had been hosting a Jewish educational program, with some participants extending their stay at the property. The sudden, chaotic event was described as a “nightmare.” Over 300 guests, including individuals with disabilities and a significant number of senior citizens, were faced with the need to evacuate as the fire raged around them.
In 2004, the Paramount site changed hands after the last operating owner filed for bankruptcy. Although ambitious plans to reconstruct the once-magnificent hotel were announced, they never materialized. As of April 2023, the property was back on the market, awaiting a new owner.
The hotel’s skeletal remains now stand as a testament to its former glory. After enduring two decades of abandonment, neglect, and vandalism, the once-vibrant resort now remains as little more than the forlorn shells of its buildings.
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