History of Lutherland

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In 1923, a group of organizers from New York-New Jersey Lutheran churches had a vision of creating a Christian community for their children, away from the city. On May 12, 1926, the Lutheran Conference and Camp Association acquired over 1300 acres in Pocono Pines, Tobyhanna Township, and Lutherland was born.

The property already had a 300-acre resort overlooking Lake Naomi, which was originally developed in 1902 as the Pocono Pines Assembly and Summer School, based on the Chautaugua religious educational movement. It transitioned into commercial use between 1910 and 1920, first as the Pocono Pines Assembly Hotels, and then as a vocational rehabilitation training center for World War I veterans.

The 13 original members of the development board of Lutherland were led by Mr. Henry A. Dahlen, a Lutheran church layperson and the president and majority owner of Deslaurier Column Mould Company. The resort's success led to a decision to operate it year-round, with Rev. Herbert Gailmann as the first four-season manager. In 1929, Dr. Walter A. Maier, the Lutheran Hour speaker, became the noted summer Dean of Lutherland, instilling a strong Lutheran feeling.
Lutherland continued to expand, with the addition of two hotels - Forest Lodge (1927) and Pocohanne Lodge (1928) - interconnected with a dining facility. The complex also included a large casino recreational center, auditorium, movie theater, library, post office, administrative and maintenance buildings, and rustic cabins, as well as an indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, lounges, and conference rooms. Three camps were also built around Lake Tamaqua: Camp Chickagami (boys), Camp Na-Wa-Kwa (girls), and Camp Beaverbrook (young adults), each with its own housing, dining, worship, and recreational facilities.

In addition, 1000 acres were designated for a cottage community, with building sites leased for 99 years. Many cottages still exist in the community today.
In the 1940s, financial challenges prompted Lutherland to seek a wider clientele and adopt the commercial name “Pocono Crest” to attract resort-based revenues. In the early 1960s, Lutheran-based Valparaiso University gained control, but as their priorities changed, they sold Lutherland to Susque Corporation in 1969, which operated it as Pocono Crest resort until its bankruptcy in 1972, when it was taken over by Philadelphia National Bank.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, the grand facilities of Lutherland met their final demise, with the property sold to Deer Run Corp. in 1982 for development. Today, the resort community of Pinecrest Lake Golf & Country Club occupies the original site.

Lutherland was a pioneer in the Pocono Mountains resort community, and its history represents the evolution of resort destinations in the region.