Page 1

editor. The author of five books and the founding editor of Berkshire Living Home+Garden, she has penned more than 200 magazine features about architecture, design, antiques, and historic buildings, which have appeared in regional, national, and international publications. In 2007, she transposed this expertise into a real estate career with The Kinderhook Group. She lives in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Architecture of Leisure series Houses of the Berkshires, 1870 –1930 Revised Edition Richard S. Jackson Jr. and Cornelia Brooke Gilder

Houses of the Hamptons, 1880 –1930 Gary Lawrance and Anne Surchin

Other Acanthus Press titles Great Houses of New York, 1880 –1930 Michael C. Kathrens

Great Houses of Chicago, 1871 –1921 Susan Benjamin and Stuart Cohen

An Elegant Wilderness

Gladys Montgomery is an award-winning writer and

An Elegant Wilderness Great Camps and Grand Lodges of the Adirondacks 1855–1935

Erin Feher (spring, 2012)

Gladys Montgomery

Great Houses of San Francisco, 1875–1940

Gladys Montgomery

The first book to place the rustic Adirondack architectural style in the context of the cultural, social, and environmental history, An Elegant Wilderness showcases the intensely private retreats set into the pine forests on the shores of the region’s shimmering lakes.

For the members of the leisure class, rustic architecture and decoration and the woodland lifestyle were a splendid conceit. Transported in private Pullman cars from New York, they arrived with chefs from the city’s premier restaurants, a retinue of servants who would join those on site, tennis and voice coaches, chauffeurs and secretaries, and a cadre of houseguests who might stay for six days or three months. The Adirondack “camp” was spoken of with the same faux modesty as the luxurious “cottage” in Newport. But unlike other resorts, camp owners’ reliance on the local knowledge and skill of their servants and guides created a vastly different relationship than what was found at Newport, Saratoga, Lenox, or Palm Beach.

Sam Watters

Maggie Lidz

Great Camps and Grand Lodges of the Adirondacks, 1855–1935

Open earlier to tourism and more accessible than the western United States, the Adirondack region is where many urbanites of the Industrial Age came to experience the wilderness. In the Adirondacks, constricting social proprieties relaxed: it was a place where city swells hunted, fished, hiked, and played tennis, women shed their corsets, and children learned to appreciate the great outdoors.

Houses of Los Angeles, 1885–1935; 2 volumes The du Ponts: Houses and Gardens in the Brandywine, 1900 –1951

An Elegant Wilderness

Gladys Montgomery

Published in collaboration with the Adirondack Museum, An Elegant Wilderness combines architectural, social, and cultural history with biography, and evocative archival photographs of rustic homes, idyllic lakes, and recreational pastimes, most published here for the first time.

back cover: Camp Inman, c. 1890. front cover: Boat House at Nehansane Camp, 1902. (both photographs courtesy of the Adirondack Museum)

printed in china




An Elegant Wilderness Great Camps and Grand Lodges of the Adirondacks 1855–1935


in collaboration with the Adirondack Museum


New York : 2011


Foreword [ 8 ]


Introduction [ 11 ]

Raquette Lake 1878; 1905 [ 73 ]

BRANDRETH PARK Brandreth Lake 1855–85 [ 43 ]

FAIRVIEW Raquette Lake 1879 [ 79 ]

PUTNAM CAMP Keene Valley 1876–1903 [ 49 ]

CAMP CEDARS Forked Lake 1880 [ 87 ]

PINE KNOT Raquette Lake 1877–90 [ 55 ]

WILD AIR Upper St. Regis Lake 1882–1917 [ 93 ]

CAMP INMAN Raquette Lake 1878–91 [ 63 ]

STOKES CAMP Upper St. Regis Lake 1884–1917 [ 101 ]




Raquette Lake 1885–1903

Upper Saranac Lake 1903

[ 107 ]

[ 185 ]



Lake Lila 1891

Upper Saranac Lake 1903

[ 111 ]

[ 193 ]



Newcomb Lake 1892

Lower Saranac Lake 1905

[ 123 ]

[ 203 ]



Mohegan Lake 1893–95

Osgood Pond 1907–13

[ 131 ]

[ 209 ]



Sagamore Lake 1896–1924

Upper St. Regis Lake 1923

[ 139 ]

[ 217 ]



Raquette Lake 1897

Upper Saranac Lake, 1930–33

[ 149 ]

[ 231 ]



Lake Sumner 1898–1917

Blue Mountain / Eagle Lakes 1937–38

[ 155 ]

[ 239 ]


Bibliography [ 244 ]

Lower Saranac Lake 1899 [ 167 ]

Acknowledgments [ 253 ] Photo credits [ 255 ]


Index [ 257 ]

Upper Saranac Lake 1902–03 [ 177 ]



Rusticity—to a large degree—was defined and refined in the Adirondacks.

The Adirondack camp, particularly what is now popularly known as the great camp, is an apotheosis of

In America, many ideas for rustic architecture were

the log cabin. In the United States, the log cabin had

adapted from the English landscape movement and

become a national icon embodying traits of fortitude,

incorporated into buildings: among them, irregular sil-

hardiness, democracy, and the pioneer spirit. Eight presi-

houettes, earth colors, and rustic woodwork, often with

dents—most notably Abraham Lincoln—had been born

the bark on. Alexander Jackson Davis and Andrew

in log cabins, and after the 1876 Centennial Exposition,

Jackson Downing published designs that embodied the

the log cabin began to appear in resort areas, like the

aesthetic principles derived from British rustic, infor-

Adirondacks and western national parks.

mal country dwellings and landscapes and popularized

Deep in inaccessible forests, Adirondack great camps

cozy cottages appropriate for naturalized, rural settings.

were linked closely to the land and to Adirondack ver-

By the 1850s, such rustic architecture could be found in

nacular traditions of log and bark construction, as well

American city parks, seaside resorts, and country hotels.

as to architectural and aesthetic precedents. Great camps

The American expression of rustic had, at its core,

furthered an image consistent with prevailing roman-

notions of wilderness as untamed and uninhabited

tic notions of wilderness. These complexes of buildings

nature, a concept of wilderness that was really an imagi-

contrasted to the architecture of Adirondack villages,

native creation, since by the mid-1800s much of America’s

where houses and hotels conformed to the civilized con-

“wild” land was tamed and lived in. Nevertheless, the

temporary architectural styles of the Greek and Roman

idea spawned an extraordinary output of furniture,

revivals (1770–1850) or the Second Empire (1860–90)

architecture, decorative arts, and art. The enduring fas-

or the Queen Anne (1880–1900). Great camp structures

cination with rustic objects and sensibilities coincides

combined and transformed log construction methods

with the enduring attraction of natural places and wil-

originating in Europe—northern Italy, Switzerland,

derness for Americans, and the importance of nature in

Germany, Scandinavia, the Baltics, and northern Russia;

American thought and culture.

Native American influences; and an aesthetic vocabulary


derived from an 18th-century English offshoot of roman-

artifacts that document the complex interaction between

ticism known as the picturesque.

people and this wilderness place over time. Among its

There were other contributors to the development of

collections most closely related to the regional character-

an Adirondack rustic aesthetic. The formal architectural

istics of the Adirondacks are rustic furniture, artifacts,

vocabulary of the Stick and Shingle styles of the 1860s

records, and historic photographs of the rustic architec-

and 1870s—porches, screens, natural materials, bays, and

ture and life in the great camps. Since opening to the

gables—became elements of the Adirondack great-camp

public in 1957, the museum has mounted exhibitions,

aesthetic. The use of whole logs to create rustic summer

offered programs, and sponsored publications that bring

houses or camps reflected the principles of simplicity,

this history to the public. In that time, historical schol-

utility, and harmony with the land that were integral to

arship has brought attention to new areas of inquiry,

the Arts and Crafts design philosophy.

including cultural, social, and labor history and, most

By the late 19th century, the Adirondack rustic aes-

recently, environmental history, and in so doing has

thetic was incorporated into national mainstream

introduced rich perspectives for understanding the

architecture for vacation homes across North America,

Adirondacks. The museum has encouraged and sup-

particularly in the Appalachians, Maine, the Great Lakes

ported this research in hopes of enriching the public’s

states, Canada, and the Rocky Mountains. Log-building

understanding of Adirondack cultural and environmen-

plans modeled after Adirondack camps were published

tal history.

in how-to books; in 1890 Forest & Stream Publishing

Gladys Montgomery and Acanthus Press make a major

Company published Log Cabins: How to Build and

contribution to the literature on the subject with this

Furnish Them by William S. Wicks. As early as 1916 the

book. Drawing on the vast collections of the Adirondack

National Park Service adopted the style for its lodges

Museum’s library and historic photographs, as well

and camps. The Civilian Conservation Corps of the

as other regional repositories, Ms. Montgomery skill-

1930s built Adirondack-style lean-tos and other rustic

fully depicts the social milieu, architectural precedents,

structures in the forest and mountain regions across the

decorative aesthetics, and environmental awareness that

country. The remarkably rich and diverse rustic style still

stimulated the Adirondack rustic architectural style,

appeals today.

along with the individual stories of the people who built

The Adirondack Museum is a regional collec-

the camps and lived the grand life there.

tion of history and art located in Blue Mountain Lake, New York. It explores and presents the history of the Adirondacks, the place, and its people. For more than 50 years the museum has collected historical and cultural

Caroline M. Welsh Senior Art Historian and Director Emerita, the Adirondack Museum




With mountains round about environed, / and mighty woods . . . , / . . . In whose enclosed shadow there was . . . A fair pavilion, scarcely to be seen, / . . . all within most richly dight, / That greatest princes living it mote well delight. —Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, 1590

I tell you if there’s a spot on the face of the earth where millionaires go to play at house keeping in log cabins and tents as they do here I have yet to hear about it. —Paul Smith, 1890

In the spring of 1869, two events exemplified the forces

later, Durant completed a railroad line to North Creek,

that had already begun to reshape the Adirondack region

intending to create in the Adirondacks what The New

into a leisure class destination. The first, in Boston, was

York Times called “a Central Park for the world.” In

the publication of Adventures in the Adirondacks, by

1877 he positioned his son, William West Durant, as his

Rev. William Henry Harrison Murray. The second,

heir apparent in the region’s development. California

at Promontory Point, Utah, was the driving of the last

millionaire Collis Huntington became William West

spike in the transcontinental railroad by Dr. Thomas C.

Durant’s chief financial angel and helped to attract other

Durant of the Union Pacific and Collis P. Huntington

socially prominent, surpassingly wealthy, and politi-

of the Central Pacific. “Adirondack” Murray’s little

cally influential individuals to the region. That was the

book catalyzed a tourist onrush of a size and sudden-

beginning of the grand, secluded lakeside villas with an

ness unprecedented in American history. Two years

emphasis on self-sufficiency, which Harvey Kaiser, writing more than a century later, dubbed “the great camps of the Adirondacks.”

At Devil’s Oven, Ausable Chasm, c. 1888, recreational bicyclists—one of whom (bottom left)—is inexplicably, delightfully costumed as a frog, paused to pose for a photograph. George W. Baldwin, photographer.

With Thomas Durant’s railroad line and the completion of others in the 1880s, including private lines serving the great camps, the Adirondacks became the nation’s



Dr. Thomas C. Durant (left), c. 1869, and William West Durant, c. 1884.

first conveniently accessible wilderness area. Because it

Tracing its roots to a centuries-old aristocratic aesthetic,

opened earlier to tourism and was more easily reached

the rustic log lodge, which developed in the Adirondacks

by Easterners of virtually all income groups and social

during the Gilded Age, was the prototype for hotels built

classes than the western part of the United States, this

in the early years of the 20th century in the U.S. National

region was where many urbanites of the Industrial Age

Parks, of the breathtaking Depression-era work of the

came to experience the wilderness.

Civilian Conservation Corps at Timberline on Mount

Despite—and because of—its rugged terrain and relative remoteness, the Adirondack region was a crucible for ideas about nature and Americans’ collective relationship to it. It was in the Adirondacks that constrictive social

Hood in Oregon, and of log homes and resorts still being constructed across the nation.


proprieties relaxed, that city swells hunted in deer-filled

The 19th century was a period of tremendous economic

forests and angled in trout-stocked lakes, that women

growth in the United States. Beginning in the 1820s,

shed their corsets to hike, fish, and play tennis, and that

canals and railroads opened, bringing goods from bur-

children learned to appreciate the great outdoors.

geoning factories into rural towns, spurring people to

One aspect of their experience was Adirondack rustic

seek employment in industrial and commercial cen-

architecture, the first homegrown building tradition in

ters, creating new industries and new markets for new

the eastern United States, other than that of America’s

consumer goods, and fueling new fortunes. During the

native peoples, to be irrevocably and distinctively linked

second half of the century, the U.S. population more

to nature in significant ways. The rustic style represented

than doubled, with most of that growth concentrated in

a confluence of ideas that emphasized the relationship

urban centers, which became blighted with overcrowd-

between the built and natural environments, embodied

ing, poor hygiene, polluted rivers, sooty air, and disease,

19th-century America’s fascination with the romantic

notably tuberculosis. In the face of rampant industrial-

and picturesque, and combined varied stylistic influ-

ization, Americans began to romanticize their landscape.

ences with indigenous building methods and materials.

This sentiment took a variety of forms—the spiritual


An idyllic moment on Lower Ausable Lake, from an albumen print by Seneca Ray Stoddard, 1889.

view that God was manifest in nature, the emergence

By 1892 the New York Tribune listed 4,047 millionaires

of American landscape painting, the urge to spend time

nationwide, most of them nouveau riche individuals eager

in pastoral places and in the wilderness, and a concern

to display their status in expensive houses, wardrobes,

about environmental conservation. Industrial cities bred

travel, and trophy wives. Commenting on their opulent

a new kind of overworked American who lacked physi-

lifestyle, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner—

cal prowess, a development viewed as detrimental to the

both of whom vacationed in the Adirondacks—gave the

national good. So there was an increased emphasis on

era its name in their Utopian satire The Gilded Age, bor-

recreation, and new sports and leisure pastimes emerged.

rowing from Shakespeare: “To gild refined gold, to paint

At the same time, myriad inventions, industries, rail-

the lily, . . . is wasteful and ridiculous excess.” In his land-

roads, and commerce produced astonishing personal

mark book The Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein

fortunes. Between 1860 and 1901, 440,000 patents were

Veblen called this excess “conspicuous consumption.”

issued; by 1890 the value of U.S. manufactured goods

The robber barons of the 19th century were not men

nearly equaled the total produced by the rest of the world.

of noble birth, but they were eager to experience—and to





Ella Spencer Reid, niece of Whitelaw Reid, the publisher

Wild Air also had the distinction of design input from

and editor in chief of the New York Tribune, went to

the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead &

the Adirondacks in the early 1880s for her health. She

White. William Rutherford Mead worked on the camp

established Wild Air with a single tent, and in 1882 she

in 1908, and he redesigned the main lodge and the Reids’

constructed a cabin, creating the first permanent camp

sleeping cabin in 1917 after a devastating fire. Carpenter

on Upper St. Regis Lake on land purchased from hotelier

and guide Fred Barnes, Wild Air’s caretaker from

Paul Smith.

about 1885 to 1930, may have had a hand in the camp’s

In 1885, Mildred Phelps Stokes Hooker recalled in

construction. Saranac Lake architect William Distin

Camp Chronicles, her mother visited Wild Air’s first per-

undertook renovations in the 1940s, as did New York

manent cabin. “Like so many others,” she wrote, Ella

architect Edward Larrabee Barnes in 1969.

“seems to have built before [she] owned.” Ella was said

Orphaned as children, Ella and her sister were taken

to have designed the first cabin. By 1907 The New York

in by Whitelaw Reid, schooled in Ohio, and sent to fin-

Times reported that “carpenters, plumbers, masons, and

ishing school in Philadelphia; upon their graduation he

other workmen have been busy here for a fortnight in

placed them at the head of his bachelor household at

completing a new cottage, the improvement of the shore

23 Park Avenue in New York City. Reid’s Civil War

lines, walks, and in making a general overhauling of the

reportage and Washington, D.C., coverage for an Ohio

camp’s cabins and other buildings which compose this

newspaper had caught the attention of fabled newspaper-

large estate.”

man Horace Greeley, who in 1868 hired him as the chief editorial writer of the New York Tribune; Reid became

An 1882 photograph showed the interior of the first cabin on Upper St. Regis Lake, designed by owner Ella Spencer Reid. Divided into three horizontal sections separated and defined by logs, the gable wall featured bark sheathing that rose to the peak, a panel of straw matting, and bark-clad log wainscot.

managing editor, and upon Greeley’s death in 1872 he took the helm of the influential newspaper. He served as U.S. minister to France from 1889 to 1892, ran unsuccessfully for vice president with Benjamin Harrison on the Republican ticket in 1892, and served as ambassador



A view of Wild Air from Upper St. Regis Lake.

to Great Britain from 1905 until his death in London

logs. Mead designed the main lodge as a cruciform and

in 1912. In 1881 he married Elisabeth Mills, daughter

gave its living room a lofty vaulted ceiling. The camp’s

of prominent San Francisco financier Darius Ogden

billiard room and “Bishop’s Palace,” reportedly so

Mills; she inherited some $25 million when her father

named because of the Episcopalian clerics who visited,

died in 1910. Ella married Ralph Chandler Harrison, a California Supreme Court justice, at Reid’s farm in White Plains, New York, in 1892; at least two decades her senior, Harrison was a widower with two sons, and they made their home in San Francisco. Whitelaw and Elisabeth Reid were much involved at Wild Air and in the development of the camp. Despite its impressive design pedigree, Wild Air retained the intimate spirit of a small tent compound, owing to its cluster of modest single-story buildings arrayed along the shore. Of conventional wood framing, the buildings’ exteriors were faced with bark-covered


Opposite top: The living room at Wild Air in 1895 featured walls of bark-clad horizontal logs, a frieze wallpapered in a diamond pattern, a soaring ceiling, and an unusual chimney treatment. Opposite bottom: A billiard room, such as this one at Wild Air, photographed in 1895, was a standard feature in many camps. Following pages: Ella Reid’s winsome sleeping tent at Wild Air in 1882 was furnished with a woodstove, Turkish carpets, a cheval mirror, a rustic tester bed with an ornate fringe hanging and coverlet, and a bureau and paper lantern in the Japanese aesthetic. This tented room, with its wooden floor and log railing, shared a common decorative sensibility with the cabin bedrooms at this and other camps.



are playful hexagonal structures that seemed to dip their

a shell they had never seen before, and rowed it over the

toes into the lake. Lakefront windows and doors were

waters of the lake.”

balanced by strong cut-stone fireplaces on the wall oppo-

Another visitor may be of more interest than the

site. Diamond-pane windows; striped Venetian carpets;

Mintos. “Lady Eileene and Lady Ruby,” the Times con-

Turkish rugs; walls clad in logs, bark, and beadboard;

tinued, “played a game of tennis on the courts of the Reid

and a few carefully placed decorative touches, such as

camp against Miss Reid and Miss Eleanor Roosevelt.”

a Japanese screen and fans, a snowy owl, and a pair of

And “this week, in company with Miss McCook,” Miss

snowshoes on an overmantel, conveyed a sense of unclut-

Roosevelt, who had been a guest at other camps, “went to

tered rusticity.

Camp Wild Air, to remain for a week, the guest of Miss

Historian Alfred Donaldson commented that Wild

Jeanne Reid.”

Air “embodied features of rustic beauty and modern

The Reids, Mildred Stokes Hooker recalled, invited

comfort which were entirely novel at the time, and it

anyone to play on their courts who showed up with a

became in a general way the suggestive model for the

racket, and they hosted an annual “fancy dress dance”

similar camps that soon sprang up around it.”

on Labor Day weekend. As a rule, she recalled, “proto-

On July 12, 1903, The New York Times reported that

col played a very minor part in life at Camp Wild Air.

Wild Air had been made ready for the early arrival

I remember once . . . we were lunching there with our

of the Reids and their son. “The latter,” it said, “has a

children when, glancing around the table, I saw that Mrs.

new sailboat which he will enter in the regattas of the

Reid had put a young missionary, with whom she wished

St. Regis Yacht Club.” Two weeks later the Times noted

to talk, on her right, while our young Milly, aged about

that the Reid family would “remain in camp through-

fourteen, sat between a bishop and an ambassador.”

out the season, it is expected, and, as has been customary

Wild Air is still owned by Reid descendants.

with them, they will entertain much at their mountain retreat.” That summer the Reids hosted the governor general of Canada and his family for several weeks, and in mid-August they invited their Adirondack peers for a two-hour reception, which they referred to as an “At Home.” On August 23 the paper said, “Many people have closed their houses at Lenox, Southampton, and Newport and come to the Adirondacks for the various house parties and functions that are occupying attention at this time. Dinners, receptions, and luncheons in honor of Lord and Lady Minto and Lady Eileene and Lady Ruby attracted many visitors to the camps of Mr. and Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick W. Vanderbilt, . . . and others and these camps are now filled by the large house parties entertained at each of them.” The Times recounted that after the St. Regis regatta, Lord and Lady Minto joined the winner, Ogden Mills Reid, “on board the yacht. Lord Minto took the tiller himself, and sent the craft through considerable wind and a rainstorm until he had tested its merits.” Then “Lord and Lady Mito entered an Adirondack guide boat,


Opposite top: The living room cabin at Wild Air in 1895 was a graceful composition comprising hipped and gabled roofs, a gabled entry featuring notched-log construction and a triangular diamond-paned window, and a generous porch with twig latticework and log details, outfitted with a hammock and drapes. The building was destroyed by fire in 1916. Opposite bottom: Sleeping cottages at Wild Air. Note the hammock on the porch at right.


Nehasane Camp LAKE LILA


“W. Seward Webb is unquestionably the most pop-

The son of Civil War general James Watson Webb,

ular man in the North Woods,” The New York

William Seward Webb studied medicine in Vienna, Paris,

Times declared in 1895. “For many years . . . he had

and Berlin. Graduated from the Columbia University

tramped over almost every accessible part of the

College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1875, he practiced

region, and he was familiar with every inn, every

medicine briefly but soon made a transition to finance,

huntsman’s cabin, every deer run, and trout stream

establishing W. S. Webb & Company on Wall Street. In

and lake of importance. Every innkeeper, trapper, and

1883 he married Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt. Lila, as she

guide knew him, and was his devoted friend.” The

was known, was the daughter of William H. Vanderbilt,

region’s largest landowner, with a 76,000-acre private

who ranked as one of the world’s wealthiest men; in 1895

estate and a 112,000-acre forest and game preserve, Webb

Lila’s brother George completed Biltmore, the largest

built a railroad linking New York with Montreal, cata-

private estate in America. At his father-in-law’s behest,

lyzing a new resort era in the Adirondacks and opening

Webb became head of the Wagner Palace Car Company,

the way for the “beauties and health-giving qualities

maker of luxury railway cars. The Webbs split their time

of the region” to be “enjoyed by scores of thousands of

between their New York town house at 680 Fifth Avenue,

people in this country and in Canada.” The railroad, the

a wedding gift from her father, and a country house on

Times said, “has increased the value of Adirondack lands,

their vast Vermont horse farm, now the Shelburne

and it has won the approbation and friendship of every

Museum. They also maintained the Elfreda, a 117-foot

resident . . . and visitor. . . . Instead of helping to denude

steam yacht with a crew of 15, on Lake Champlain.

the forests, the railroad has led to a more alert and more extended system of supervision for their protection.”

In 1890 Lila received $5 million from a family trust. Shortly thereafter, Webb purchased several large tracts of Adirondack land. He began work on the camp the fol-

Dr. Edward L. Trudeau Jr., Wenonah Wetmore, William Seward Webb Jr., and Frederica Vanderbilt Webb, with young stag, 1902; photograph by T. E. Marr.

lowing year. Significantly for the development of the Adirondack region, Webb decided to build a railroad, reputedly against



Nehasane’s Forest Lodge, in 1902, was designed in the Shingle style by Robert Robertson, who also designed the Webb home in Shelburne, Vermont. The Webbs reached the Adirondacks via the yacht they maintained on Lake Champlain. Note the hipped irimoya roofs on the icehouse (left) and the wing of the main house (at right). Photographed by T. E. Marr.

his father-in-law’s advice but with a board of directors

The primary means of transportation to the

composed of J. Pierpont Morgan, Collis P. Huntington,

Adirondacks until World War II, the railway was sold

William C. Whitney, and William West Durant.

in 1893 to the New York Central on the condition that

Beginning the following summer, crews worked double

certain stations, such as the one at Nehasane Park, be

shifts, clearing, grading, and laying 191 miles of track in

reserved for Webb’s private use. He shuttled with his

18 months. During the inaugural run of the line dubbed

family and dogs between Fifth Avenue, Shelburne, and

Webb’s Golden Chariot Route, the train’s heavy mahogany

Nehasane in a private railway car pulled by an engine

cars caused the rails to sink into a marsh. But by October

fitted with a large window that allowed passengers

1892 the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad was pro-

to fully appreciate the view. Now a railroad man like

viding regular service between New York and Montreal,

his father-in-law, Webb invested in and served on the

entering the Adirondack region from the southwest and

boards of the Fulton Chain Transportation Company,

proceeding north along the Fulton Chain lakes and the

Fulton Chain Railway, Raquette Lake Transportation

Raquette River and to Saranac and St. Regis lakes, opening access to the Adirondack League Club, Blue Mountain and Tupper lakes, and Paul Smith’s Hotel, as well as to countless tourist lodgings and private camps; towns such as Webb and Beaver River arose along its stops.


Opposite: The Nehasane boathouse on Lake Lila. Note the Adirondack guideboat and launch with striped awning, and in the background, the horse barn and icehouse. Photographed by T.E. Marr in 1902.

Boardwalk and canvas tents, at Nehasane, 1902. These tents, which accommodated domestic servants, were later replaced by wooden cabins. Photographed by T. E. Marr.

Company, Raquette Lake Railway, and Marion River

all the land adjacent to Second, Third, Fourth, Rondaxe,

Carry Railroad. In 1899 Pullman absorbed the Wagner

Darts, Cascade, and Moss lakes, as well as tracts around

Company, and Webb resigned as its president.

Big Moose and Twitchell lakes, the town of Stillwater,

Webb’s second Adirondack venture was an immense

and the Beaver River.

forest and game preserve, adjacent to similar tracts owned

In 1895 the Times said, “The Nehasane Park

by William C. Whitney, William A. Rockefeller, and

Association [which held title] is an organization of which

Abbot Augustus Low, whose family made their fortune

William Seward Webb is proprietor. . . . About 10,000

in the China trade. Low was the brother of New York

acres, or more than fifteen square miles, of this property

lawyer William Gilman Low, for whom McKim, Mead

. . . is surrounded by a wire fence 10 feet high, within

& White in 1887 designed Low House, with its long,

which the native deer and imported elk and moose, as

sweeping gable roof, in Bristol, Rhode Island, and of Seth

well as smaller game and fish, are secure from molesta-

Low, president of Columbia University and Mayor of

tion by the general public; this particular tract, together

Brooklyn and of New York. Webb’s holdings comprised

with about 40,000 acres of adjoining land, being reserved


In the dining room in Nehasane’s Shingle-style Forest Lodge, 1902, finishes and furnishings were more refined than rustic, with gleaming white interiors as a counterpoint to the stone fireplace and hunting trophies. Photographed by T. E. Marr.

for the exclusive use of Dr. Webb and his personal

Service under President Theodore Roosevelt; Pinchot’s

friends or guests.” In 1893 Webb had begun selling prop-

1898 report held that Webb’s lumber enterprise “ignores

erty to the state, and in 1896 he sold a 25-acre waterfront

the fact that the forest land is productive capital.” Webb

parcel on First and Second lakes to former U.S. president

did not exploit that: as Munsey’s Magazine noted: “The

Benjamin Harrison.

idea of the Webb preserve is the protection and propaga-

Webb continued to maintain the preserve, employ-

tion of wild game for sport’s sake only; but from the fact

ing a superintendent and, depending on the season, 25

that Dr. Webb is disposed to assist in tree-stocking public

to 50 gamekeepers, all making daily reports. To protect

lands, it assumes a more generous character than other

against forest fires, a trained patrol was equipped with a

similar preserves can claim.”

large tank running on standard gauge track, pulled by an

In 1908 Alice Kellogg wrote in Broadway Magazine,

engine to pump lake water, and fitted with 2,000 feet of

“Mr. W. Seward Webb, too, has done much toward

hose; when fires destroyed vast woodland tracts in 1903,

preserving the forest primeval for the good of the next

Nehasane’s forests were largely spared.

generation. His camp, Forest Lodge, a collection of mag-

To prepare a forest development plan, Webb enlisted

nificent cottages on Lake Lila, is one of the most famous

Gifford Pinchot, who became head of the U.S. Forestry

of the region…. The estate—in the center of which his



In the living room in Forest Lodge, polished narrowboard walls were the backdrop for an opulent mix—a comfortable couch with fringed floral upholstery and silk cushions, draperies on the doorway, a player piano and rack for music rolls, hunting and fishing trophies, and an uncarpeted floor strewn with bearskin rugs, which were popular even in very high-style New York interiors at this time. The room was dominated in scale and texture by a dramatic, freestanding fireplace of craggy, rough-hewn stone, embellished with taxidermic creatures. Photographed by T. E. Marr, 1902.



Left: A maid at the spring trough, with Coolie, one of the Webb family’s dogs, 1902. The boardwalk linked Nehasane’s twelve cabins, all of which faced the lake. Photographed by T. E. Marr. Right: Bartender Howard Roome at Nehasane’s “Wunderbar,” in 1925.

beautiful camp, costing nearly a million dollars, is situ-

lawns and a manicured lakeshore, the building empha-

ated—originally consisted of 115,000 acres. Some years

sized long, horizontal massing in a one-and-a-half-story

ago, however, he sold about 75,000 acres to the State—

structure broken into two sections, punctuated by wide

acres that his money and forethought had preserved for

gabled dormers, and unified with a long porch overlook-

the benefit of all sportsmen.”

ing the lake and with siding of shingles skived on-site and

Sited on the shore of Lake Lila (Webb renamed Smith

stained dark brown. In keeping with the Colonial Revival

Lake to honor his wife), overlooking its 1,400-acre surface

idiom, windows consisted of a single pane of lower sash,

and seven islands, the main house, Forest Lodge, was con-

surmounted by 25 small square panes. Forest Lodge con-

structed on property first settled by David Smith in about

tained a double-height living room with a surpassingly

1830, then occupied by hermit George Muir (whom Webb

rugged fieldstone fireplace, a dining room with seating

hired as caretaker) and by Lamont’s rustic hotel, which

for 14, two kitchens (one for staff), and bedrooms for

was razed to make way for the lodge. In 1891 Webb hired

25, including 10 guides. Interiors featured typical turn-

architect Robert H. Robertson, known for his skyscrap-

of-the-century vertical pine beadboard walls and ceilings

ers and for several New York City landmarks, including

and narrow fir flooring, and decor was more layered,

the 15 Park Row Building, the tallest in the world from

eclectic Victorian than purely rustic, except for a liberal

1896 to 1908; he also designed seaside cottages in Newport

use of taxidermic hunting trophies and bearskin rugs.

and on the Jersey shore, the Webbs’ home at Shelburne in

The camp’s 86 ancillary buildings, with many roofs

1888, and Camp Santanoni, completed in 1893, for Robert

requiring winter shoveling, were of log, rustic chinked

Pruyn. No stranger to the Adirondacks, Robertson was

board, and shingle construction, with a few irimoya roofs,

a member of the Tahawus Club, and his family had co-

tents, and awning-trimmed porches for variation. These

owned an ironworks in McIntyre, New York; he died

structures included guest cottages, an owners’ cottage,

while visiting Nehasane in 1896.

hunting cabins, gamekeepers’ cabins, children’s play

Robertson’s Shingle-style design for Forest Lodge gave

cabins and a wigwam, two boathouses, horse and car-

it the stately presence of a country villa. Surrounded by

riage barns, all intended to create the self-sufficiency of


A morning on horseback, c. 1900. James Watson Webb and his mother, Lila Osgood Vanderbilt Webb, in the turn-around circle at Forest Lodge, with Lake Lila in the background.

a grand country seat. Building continued at least until

Area in 1997. “The natural resources of Nehasane are

1915, when George F. Schrader signed drawings for a

extraordinary and beautiful,” Munsey’s wrote in 1901. “It

new superintendent’s house. The property also encom-

is a country of forest and stream, absolutely wild, in the

passed several small train stations.

very heart of the Adirondacks.”

Dr. Webb passed away at Shelburne in 1926, having suffered ill health and morphine addiction for many years; a boulder from Nehasane marks his grave in Woodlawn Cemetery, New York City. His family continued at Nehasane until 1979, when the property was transferred to New York State. Because of the state constitution’s “forever wild” provision, Forest Lodge and its ancillary buildings were demolished, catalyzing a new era of historic preservation in the Adirondacks. Nehasane Park became part of the William C. Whitney Wilderness

Following pages: Vanderbilt Webb, canines Ivy, Tuck, and Coolie, and James Watson Webb, out for a row on Lake Lila in 1902. Swimming platform in background. Photo by T. E. Marr.



Bierstadt, Albert and Charles, 88 Bierstadt, Edward, 23, 79, 87–89 Big Island (Raquette Lake), 149 billiards, 19–20, 88, 94–95, 147, 178–79, 213 Biltmore (Asheville, North Carolina), 102, 111, 140, 152 Birch Island, 100–102 Bitter, Karl, 14, 152–53 Blagden Camp, 37 Blake, Theodore, 217 Blenheim Palace (England), 40 Bliss Point (Little Tupper Lake), 75 Blow, Susan, 50 Blue Mountain Center, 243 Blue Mountain Lake, 19, 58, 88, 109, 112, 239, 241. See also Eagle Nest Bluff Point (Raquette Lake), 72–77 Blumenthal, George, 169–70 boardwalks, 114, 118, 156, 187 boat landings, 64, 71, 75, 224, 226–27 boathouses, 45, 71, 75–76, 79, 81–83, 91, 100–102, 112–13, 150, 156, 167, 170, 172–74, 187, 191, 194–95, 201, 218, 220, 228–29, 232 boating, 73, 76–77, 185, 220. See also canoes; guideboats; sailing; yachting Bourke-White, Margaret, 23, 86–87, 89, 91 Bowditch, Henry P., 49 bowling alleys, 19–20, 74, 88, 143, 164, 209, 213–15 Brady, Anthony N., 161 Brady, Mabel. See Garvan, Mabel Brady Brandreth, Anne. See McAlpin, Anne Brandreth Brandreth, Benjamin, 43–44 Brandreth Park (Brandreth Lake), 42–47 Brandreth, Pauline, 42 Breakers, The (Newport, Rhode Island), 140, 152 Brice, Fanny, 178 bridges, 33, 85, 168, 208–09, 214–15 Broadway Magazine, 115, 118 Brooklyn Eagle, 155 Browning, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett, 50 Brunswick, Balke, Collender builders, 143 Bryant, William Jennings, 73 Bryce, Sir James, 50 Bryere, Joseph O. A., 39, 74, 79–80, 107 Buffalo Pan-American Exposition, 37, 63–64, 70 Bull Point (Upper Saranac Lake), 37, 176–83 Bungalows (Saylor), 243 Burdick, J. W., 61 Burrage, George, 50


Cabot, Charles, 50 Cabot, George, 50 Cahn, Emma. See Lewisohn, Emma Cahn Caldwell, Erskine, 91 Camp Arbutus, 58 Camp Cedars (Forked Lake), 19, 23, 35, 79, 86–91 Camp Chronicles (Hooker), 93, 101–02 Camp Comfort (Brandreth Park), 34–35, 43–47 Camp Inman (Raquette Lake), 37, 39, 62–71 Camp Kwenogamac, 152–53 Camp Oteetiwi (Raquette Lake), 14, 148–53 Camp Sagamore (Sagamore Lake), 23, 26–27, 30, 33, 36, 39, 133–34, 138–47 Camp Santanoni, 118 Camp Stott (Raquette Lake), 73–74, 76–77, 107. See also Bluff Point Camp Ten Eyck, 107 Camp Uncas (Mohegan Lake), 19, 33, 130–37 camping, 14, 19, 24–25, 50, 152, 239 Camps in the Woods (Shepard), 33 canoes, 13, 20, 53, 66, 68–69, 120–21, 146, 151–52, 224 caretakers. See servants Carlin, Roscoe, 80, 84, 103–04 Carnegie, Andrew, 74, 102, 107, 109, 133 Carnegie, Lucy Coleman, 28, 74, 107–09 Carnegie, Thomas, 107–08 Carpenter Gothic style, 37, 74 Carrère & Hastings architects, 217 Casilear, John William, 14 Catskills, 16–17 chalets. See Swiss chalet style chapel, 156–57, 164 Chicago World Columbian Exposition, 14 Chicago World’s Fair, 74, 108 Civil War, 34–35, 44, 93, 107, 111, 185, 239 Civilian Conservation Corps, 12 Clark, Herb, 174 class relationships. See social freedom Clemens, Samuel Langhorne, 73 Clinton, DeWitt, 14 Close, Ed, 217 clubs, 167, 243. See also specific names Coggeshall, Calvert, 243 Cole, Thomas, 14 Collier, Peter Fenelon, 75 Collier, Robert J., 28, 73–75 Collier, Sara Van Alen, 73 Collier’s, 75, 232 Colonial Revival style, 38–39, 87, 118, 134–35, 201, 204, 235–36

Colvin, Verplanck, 16–17, 20, 25 Conner, Fox Brandreth, 43 Coolidge, Calvin, 211, 213 Cooper, James Fenimore, 122, 131 corps de logis (center block), 78–79 Coulter, Westhoff & Distin firm, 232, 242. See also Coulter, William L.; Distin, William G.; Westhoff, Max Coulter, William L., 19, 235 and Bay Pond Park, 231 and Bull Point, 177, 182, 196 and Camp Sagamore, 140 and Eagle Island, 185–87, 191 and Knollwood Club, 167–68, 170, 172–73 and Max Westhoff, 203–04, 232 praise of, 106, 108, 193 and Prospect Point, 193–94, 196 trademarks of, 37, 156, 167, 196, 242 Country Life magazine, 164–65 Crocker, Charles, 58 Cronk, Charles E., 79 croquet, 20, 109 cure seekers. See health seekers Cutter & Malmgren architects, 74, 108 Cutter, Kirtland Kelsey, 74, 108–09 cycling, 10–11, 20 dacha, 218, 222–24 Davies, Joseph, 218–19, 222 Davis, Alexander Jackson, 32, 37, 57 de Wolfe, Elsie, 134 Delano & Aldrich architects, 128, 177 Delaware, 36–37, 73 development, 11, 40, 55, 91, 111–12, 239, 241 Devil’s Oven (Ausable Chasm), 10–11 Deyrolle emporium (Paris), 40 Distin, William G., 37, 93, 231–33, 235, 238–39, 242 Dix, John A., 58 Dix, William, 17 Dodge, Phelps, 101 Donaldson, Alfred, 55, 98 Dos Passos, John, 132, 134 Dougherty, Charles, 139 Downing, Andrew Jackson, 32–33, 36–37, 50, 56–57, 139, 204 “Drowned Lands” (Stoddard), 18 Dunn, Samuel, 75 Dunn, Willie Jr., 241 Dunnekin, Samuel, 36, 57 Dunning, Alvah, 24, 79, 87, 107, 150, 239 Durand, Asher B., 14 Durant, Charles W. Jr., 23, 79–81, 87 Durant, Frederick W., 19, 23, 79, 87–89 Durant, Heloise, 59 Durant, Howard, 88 Durant, Janet Stott, 57–59, 73

Durant, Kenneth, 89, 91 Durant, Lawrence T., 59 Durant, Napier, 59 Durant, Thomas C., 11–12, 55–57, 73, 79, 177 Durant, Mrs. Thomas C., 146 Durant, William West, 19, 87, 101, 107 and Árpád Gerster, 149–50 background of, 11–12, 34, 55, 73 and Camp Sagamore, 28, 30–31, 33, 36, 133, 139–41, 143, 147, 193 and Camp Uncas, 131–34 companies of, 57, 80, 133, 149 contributions/influence of, 11, 33–34, 55, 57, 74, 187, 218, 242 and development of Adirondacks, 55, 57, 88, 112, 239, 241 and Eagle Nest, 109, 239–43 and Kamp Kill Kare, 33, 155–56, 160 as photographer, 23 and Pine Knot, 26, 33, 36, 54–58, 61, 73, 79, 139, 193 and Swiss chalet style, 34, 57 and yachting, 20, 131–32 Eagle Island (Upper Saranac Lake), 33, 184–91 Eagle Lake, 239, 241. See also Eagle Nest Eagle Nest (Blue Mountain/Eagle lakes), 238–43 Eagle’s Nest Country Club, 22, 109, 239–42 Echo Point (Raquette Lake), 35, 150 Ehrman, Ernst, 241 Eighth Lake, 24 Einstein, Albert, 169–70, 196 Einstein, Elsa, 170 electricity/electric lights, 19, 88, 132–33, 143, 185, 191, 209 elevators, 88, 220, 224–25 Elizabethan Revival style, 37, 201 Emerson, Isaac E., 140 Emerson, Margaret, 26, 28, 36, 134, 140, 143, 147, 161 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 14, 25, 27, 50 Emmons, Ebenezer, 14 England, 24, 32–34, 57, 102, 143 entertainment, 28, 32, 38, 52–53, 66, 76–77, 164 environmental conservation, 13–14, 16–18, 40, 91, 111, 115, 124, 147, 174, 234–35 European style, 57, 216–17, 222–23 exterior cladding bark-clad logs, 43–44, 86–87, 94, 134, 182, 203–04 bark/log sheathing, 134, 150, 194–97, 201, 232–33 chinked board, 118

clapboards, 35, 49 cork, 64 half timber, 34, 182, 192, 194, 201 log, 118, 139, 178, 218, 234, 236, 242 milled weatherboarding, 210 rough-hewn granite, 164 shingle, 43, 49, 118, 167–68, 170, 172–73, 187, 203, 240, 243 squared timbers and plaster, 109 veritical pine boards, 43 vertical board-and-batten, 49, 50 Faerie Queene, The (Spenser), 11, 32 Fairview (Raquette Lake), 23, 35, 78–85, 87 Ferenczi, Sándor, 51 Field & Stream, 156, 160, 231 fireplaces brick, 58–59, 108, 142–43, 164–65, 190–91 fieldstone, 118, 189, 204 freestanding, 116 granite, 87, 90–91, 189, 191 with keystone arch, 134–35, 142–43, 189, 196, 198–99 and log posts, 200 of rock, 193 stone, 38, 57, 75, 98, 115, 126–27, 139, 141, 150, 156, 160–63, 170–71, 174, 178–83, 191, 201, 206–07, 220, 224, 226, 242 tiled, 223 Fish Rock Camp, 37 fishing, 12, 17, 19–20, 23–25, 30, 34, 42–43, 47, 57, 139, 147, 152, 160, 232, 239 Fitzgerald, F. Scott, 170 floor coverings animal skins, 38, 74, 87, 116–18, 141, 143, 154–55, 160–63, 182–83, 204, 206–07 carpets/rugs, 38, 47, 98, 143, 198–99, 236 Native American rugs, 39, 164–65, 218, 220–21 straw matting, 38 Turkish carpets/rugs, 74, 98, 182–83, 188–89, 191 wall-to-wall carpet, 58–59, 154–55, 161–63 Flower, Roswell, 17 Floyd, Arabella Jones, 203 Floyd-Jones, Peppina Avezzana, 203 Floyd-Jones, William Chauncey, 203, 206 Floyd, Richard, 203 Follensbee Pond, 14 Forest & Stream, 232, 234 Forest Lodge (Nehasane Camp), 112, 115–19

Forked Lake, 87. See also Camp Cedars Fortune, 89 Fourth Lake houses, 36, 57 Fowler, Orson S., 37 France, 23–24, 26 Fredericks, Harold and Viola, 28 French, Ellen “Elsie”. See Vanderbilt, Ellen “Elsie” French Freud, Sigmund, 28, 50–51 Fulton Chain lakes, 36, 57, 112 furnishings, 46–47, 51, 103, 115–17, 126–27, 150, 167, 182–83, 230–31. See also rustic furnishings; specific styles gable screens, 37, 45, 74, 128, 156–57, 168, 184–85 game preserves, 23–24, 26, 111, 114–15, 118, 235 gardens, 64, 209, 213 Garfield, James, 186 Garvan, Anthony N. B., 164 Garvan, Beatrice, 161, 164 Garvan, Francis P., 75, 156, 161, 165 Garvan, Mabel Brady, 154–55, 161–65 Georgian period, 32, 34 Germany, 24, 34, 193, 241–42 Gerster, Anna Wynne, 148–53 Gerster, Árpád, 148–53 Gerster, John, 148–51, 153 Gifford, Sanford Robinson, 14 Gilded Age, 50, 107 and camp life, 32 favorite pastimes during, 178–79 log lodges/camps and, 12, 34, 123, 177 opulent lifestyle of, 13, 132, 231 resorts of, 40 Gilded Age, The (Twain and Warner), 13 Goddard, Robert H., 170 Goeler, Robert, 211 golf, 19–20, 109, 224, 241 Good Enough Camp (Brandreth Park), 34–35, 43–44 Goodwin, Walter, 21 Gothic Revival style, 176–77 of England, 34, 204 gable screens, 156–57, 184–85 and hammerbeam trusses, 58–59, 188–89, 235 influences Adirondack architecture, 36–37 log buildings, 45, 56–57, 235 in pattern books, 32, 57 windows, 84, 169, 222 Gould, Howard, 170 Grand Tour, 40 great camps appeal to leisure class, 14, 28, 57 definition of, 33, 55, 57 influences on, 55, 64



An Elegant Wilderness: Great Camps and Grand Lodges of the Adirondacks, 1855-1935  

History of great Adirondacks camps, from Brandreth in 1855 to Eagle Nest in 1937, including never before published photographs from the Adir...

An Elegant Wilderness: Great Camps and Grand Lodges of the Adirondacks, 1855-1935  

History of great Adirondacks camps, from Brandreth in 1855 to Eagle Nest in 1937, including never before published photographs from the Adir...