Written by Tyler Miles, The Sentinel
After months of extensive renovations that will ultimately cost around $6.5 million, the new Allenberry Resort Inn and Playhouse is expected to re-open by Easter.
“We’re taking bookings for any future events, overnight reservations, we have sticky buns for sale, gift cards for sale, we do have a variety of different things,” said Karen Ocker, sales manager for the facility.
While new ownership is looking to get ahead of the curve by advance-booking next spring and summer, the 57-acre resort’s infrastructure is playing a bit of catch-up.
Mike Kennedy, a Cumberland County native and the organizer of a group of investors who purchased the property officially in September, said many of the renovations that began in July are about 70 to 80 percent completed. The swimming pool has been rebuilt, the grounds have been dug up to overhaul underground utilities and power lines, and just about every structure from the mansion to the lodges to the cabins have been renovated.
Kennedy’s group purchased the facility in July just days before the former owners — the Heinze family — planned to sell it in a public auction. The Heinze family had owned the Monroe Township property since 1944.
One big change is the demolition of the former Beltzhoover Terrace, a patio that had been converted into a banquet room in 1991. In its place will be an outside dining area that is expected to hold 150 people.
Kennedy said the group is speaking with “theater groups” in hopes of leasing out the playhouse so that plays and musicals can be held at the resort. He added that the guest-favorite “Murder Mystery Weekend” series will be brought back, though in a separate capacity.
“We’re bringing back the Murder Mystery, but we’re starting them out as Murder Mystery dinners on Fridays and Saturdays,” Kennedy said. “The Murder Mystery Weekends were very popular, (but) we’re just not in a position to do the whole weekend yet. But we’ll bring it back for the evening.”
There aren’t many people in Cumberland County more excited about the grand opening than South Middleton Township Supervisor Tom Faley. When he graduated from William Penn High School in Harrisburg in 1957, a dinner celebrating that event at Allenberry left a lasting impression.
“Allenberry is not in our township, it’s adjacent, very close,” Faley said, “but it’s beautiful and what I’ve found through the years is they’ve kept that intrinsic beauty and never let it go to seed.
“It was beautiful, and I’ve never forgotten that beauty,” he added.
Kennedy said the plan with the new Allenberry is to “create a world class resort in Cumberland County where there is none today.”
“Some said it might be cheaper to build anew here, but we felt different because the charm of the buildings were there,” he said. “It might cost more to refit and renovate, but we were willing because travelers are going to enjoy that historical feel of the buildings.”