Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Adirondack Boys Recommend: Stickley Furniture

Stickley furniture doesn't need our recommendation. It has its own storied past and was part of the venerable Arts & Crafts movement; antique pieces are auctioned for tens of thousands of dollars or more today. But that's antique Stickley. Here, new Stickley furniture fills the living room at our camp. This is all oak furniture. The settle is very traditional Arts & Crafts style and is upholstered in a thick, green, textured fabric. The sitting chair on the left is upholstered in deep red leather and is adorned with detailed inlay on the sides and back. The lamp is a new Stickley lamp as well, in oak with a mica shade. The mica is very fragile; it's a natural material and can easily break or chip. Our experience with Stickley was great. The salespeople are very helpful, the furniture is of excellent quality, and the designs are timeless. For more information about Stickley, go to www.stickley.com.

The Bridge to Nowhere

We called this the Bridge to Nowhere during my childhood. Years later, it is the bridge to Nina's Camp. The bridge was there first; I don't know why it was originally built since its lead to an impassable, overgrown peninsula crowded with trees, ferns, and deadwood. Fallen, dead and decaying trees blocked what might otherwise be, and now have become, walking paths. The boathouse, the third to be built at Penwood, is nearby. The original boathouse was stunning, with multiple slips and living quarters above. It burned down in a fire in the 30's. If it was still here, it would block this view. I would like to build a grander, more detailed and handcrafted bridge here in a few years. This one is generic pressure treated wood, and it's becoming more and more off-center as the lake freezes and thaws each year; the freeze-thaw cycle has already decimated our dock, which remains above water thanks to rope, braces and prayer.


The winter storm this weekend was quite serious and brought down a couple of trees around the house. The town of Inlet, which is about three miles from Penwood, is now in a state of emergency, as they have been without power for a few days now. Hopefully everything will be up and running very soon.

Turning to warmer thoughts ... It was Mark's mother who coined the term "shimmertime", which refers that time of day in the late afternoon when the lowering sun casts a shimmer on the lake. Its position, duration, color and intensity are never the same any two days, and so I've come to believe that shimmertime is one of those marvels of alchemy that make the Adirondacks so special and unpredictable. Since both houses at Penwood favor the West, both experience a magical play of reflected light during this time of day. At Nina's Camp, our entire living room is completely enveloped in a shimmer that slowly marches from one side of the room to the other over a period of hours. Like our Chris Craft, shimmertime also experiences a kind of hibernation as the lake freezes.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Snow Returns to Old Forge

Old Forge is in a state of crisis. The snow has returned! Having spent only the warm and beautiful months at Penwood growing up, I did not understand the degree to which having an Adirondack home is - a battle. A battle with nature, with time. This photograph is of the lean-to and fireplace at the shore of Fourth Lake. As a child, I camped out here from time to time. It was frightening and exhilarating - unprotected from the elements, anything might happen. The roof of the lean-to had been replaced with an ugly metal roof at some point along the way. Last year, we had cedar shingles installed again. Though we don't use the lean-to very often, I love to look at it and stop by to visit: it's our sentinel - watching over Penwood, gazing out at the lake, waiting for us to return.

Bitter, except when it's sweet

By now, the leaves have fallen, and the first snowfall of Winter has begun. The Adirondacks take a pause for a few weeks during this time of year, when boat engines fall silent and snowmobile engines have yet to make themselves heard. Summer homes are shut for the season. The town dam has been fully opened to lower the water level of the lake in advance of Winter, and each weekend brings newly uncovered parts of the lake bottom. Even after all these years, we still find trash and debris from the early 1900s on the shallow areas of the lake-bed. Old porcelain shards, cobalt bottles and strange metal pieces rusted beyond recognition. A deep silence settles in the Adirondacks, as we wait for the lake to freeze and the snow to reach a depth appropriate for snowshoes and skis.

The picture above was taken during Columbus Day weekend, when we took the Chris Craft out for its last tour of 2006. Now, it's out of the water and has begun its annual hibernation. The Chris Craft that belongs to Penwood is a 1953 runabout purchased by Mark's grandfather, and it has faithfully given Mark's family 53 summers of pleasure. In April, when the ice begins to crack and recede and the first stirrings of nature are in evidence, my attention often turns to the Chris Craft, as I begin to anticipate its debut in the new summer season.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

In honor of Daylight Savings Time in the U.S.

While I am personally partial to Autumn, many Adirondackers believe that Winter is the most beautiful time of year. It is a time of crystalline light and endless silences, when the land is cast in white. Sometimes, it seems that the Adirondacks are at their most forbidding in Winter, but they are also at their simplest. It is then that the dizzying species of flora and fauna lay dormant, and the land is reduced to ice, snow and wood. The sun, low in the sky, is so enfeebled that one can almost gaze at it in a manner that would be unthinkable in Summer. By January, the lakes freeze to a depth of two feet and thus become terra firma, to such a point that locals are known even to drive cars on them (not that I would ever dare). I do go out on the lake with my snowshoes and enjoy walking out to its center, where I am surrounded by nothing but the purest white.

The New Adirondack Kitchen

The kitchen at our home on Fourth Lake is small but very efficient. Everything is in reach of the chef in this U-shaped layout. The cabinetry was custom made in solid cherry by Backwoods Fine Woodworking in Old Forge. Backwoods does everything from design to installation and maintenance. Their work is excellent and they are very reliable. The floor is oak, as it is throughout the house. Our cherry cabinets have darkened substantially since they were installed, having developed the most beautiful patina. The appliances are mainly from Kitchen Aid's Architect Series. The sink is by Franke, in stainless steel, with a Groehe faucet. Each of the three windows has views of Fourth Lake. Simple, efficient and timeless in look and feel, this is a comfortable and high quality kitchen in keeping with the arts and crafts style of the home. Custom pocket doors with antique hardware and two built in cabinets, also by Backwoods, finish the room. Backwoods operates a workshop in Old Forge and a factory in Syracuse. See more of their work at www.cabfab.com. The Backwoods website has been down recently but it should be back in service soon. The address is: www.backwoodsfinewoodworking.com.

One key to good design

Many of you already know that we built a house in the Adirondacks, and so we thought we'd post some of our thoughts about home construction and design. I can safely say that I've never undertaken a project that was as rewarding as it was bewildering and frustrating, and it was definitely one of the rougher learning experiences of my life. Still, to build your home - particularly in a stunning physical setting - can be one of the most meaningful things you can do.

When we set out to build a house, we wanted it to look as if it had been part of its context for several decades, and we didn't want it to compete with the main house at Penwood, which was, after all, the real thing. One of the ways that we achieved this was to use antique doorknobs in the interior. Not only are they more beautiful than most doorknobs manufactured today, they are also far better (and usually less expensive). There's nothing like the feel of a solid brass doorknob coupled with an antique lockset and strikeplate. It's simply better than anything else you can buy today. Just remember that you'll need a fairly talented carpenter to install the locksets on your doors. And please don't be tempted to polish your doorknobs to make them look "new." A good patina is a big part of the charm (and value) of any antique, and doorknobs are no different. All you need do is oil the lockset a bit, and it will work as well as the day it was made. If after all this, you still want to use new doorknobs, then we recommend Rocky Mountain Hardware. They make an amazing product; just get ready for some sticker shock.

Camp Eagle Cove is Dead

The tragedy of decaying Great Camps, disappearing summer camps, and other signs of the good times of old fading away -- these are evident across the Adirondack Park. Here is the old dining and recreation building of Camp Eagle Cove on Fourth Lake. I drove out to take photos of the Camp from the lake last summer because its about to disappear forever. The structures will be torn down, the lots subdivided, and new homes built. It's sad. My mother was a lifeguard at the camp when it was in its heyday. There is something good about having a camp on the lake that comes alive every summer; it's another reminder that summer is here. Now, we can look forward to a string of million dollar homes dotting the landscape where a vibrant summer camp once reigned. This one in particular has a special place in the hearts of all Fourth Lakers, and we will miss it when it breathes its final breath.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

(Don't) Burn Baby Burn ...

This is the time of year when many of us use our fireplaces for the first time since last Spring, so it's important to get it checked out now. On Fourth Lake, there's a long and sad history of historic camps destroyed by fire, most of which originated in the fireplace. In fact, Penwood's original boathouse, which boasted bedrooms, a sitting room and a bathroom, was destroyed in the 1930s as a result of a fireplace accident. For more information on fireplaces, go to www.rumford.com.

Living in the moment

Among the greatest gifts of the Adirondacks are those moments that are as beautiful as they are unexpected. I've found that many of these occur during autumn evenings, a time when summer gloaming slowly transforms into a time so golden and fleeting that I find myself ill-equipped to capture it. This photo is of a vase and gladiolas, taken on our dining table at Nina's Camp at precisely one of those moments. (In case you're wondering, this image hasn't been photoshopped at all.)

President Benjamin Harrison's Adirondack Lodge

President Benjamin Harrison was an avid outdoorsman and loved the Adirondacks. He purchased a piece of property on Second Lake in the Fulton Chain of lakes near Old Forge and built a true Adirondack lodge, which appears in a photo at right. The President's home fell into disrepair in later years. It was most recently owned by Sarah Cohen and her sister Linda Cohen, whose family founded the venerable Old Forge Hardware store generations before. The house was known as the Harrison House or Berkeley Lodge. The Cohen sisters recently sold the lodge as well as the adjoining estate where they grew up, Pine Acres. The new owners restored Harrison House successfully in 2005.

Penwood History 1792-2006

Alexander McComb purchases one of the first series of land patents granted in northern New York State following the American Revolution. The vast two million-acre wilderness was virtually unexplored except by Native Americans and white fur traders.

John Brown, a successful Providence, Rhode Island importer, acquired nearly 210,000 acres of property in McComb's Purchase. Brown hired surveyors who were the first to map the region and divide the Tract into eight townships. A pious man, John Brown gave the following names to the townships: Frugality, Unanimity, Perseverance, Sobriety, Regularity, Enterprise, Economy, and Industry. To encourage settlers to buy land, Brown built a dam on the middle branch of the Moose River, a gristmill, and a sawmill in the township called Economy, the future location of Old Forge. Early maps show Brown's Tract located in what was to become the Town of Wilmurt in northern Herkimer County.

John Brown dies. His son in law, Charles Frederick Herreshoff, tried his hand at settling the Tract. He cleared over 2,000 acres for farming and commissioned a 17-mile bumpy wagon trail southwest of the settlement into Oneida County. The "Brown's Tract Road" became the primary access route into the region for the next seventy years

Robert Fulton, namesake of the Fulton Chain of Lakes surveys the region.

Frustrated by failed attempts at business in the Adirondack region, Charles Herreshoff kills himself. The series of eight lakes within the Middle Branch of the Moose River were named the "Fulton Chain of Lakes" in honor of Robert Fulton who surveyed the region in 1811.

William Bedell Sylvester is born in Black River, New York.

The Adirondack Park is first established as the New York Forest Preserve.

A group of influential men acquire more than 100,000 acres in Townships 2, 5, 6, 7, and 8 in John Brown's Tract and form the Adirondack League Club. William Thistlewaite arrived in the Northwoods in the 1890's to work for Dr. William Seward Webb, as a paymaster for the railroad Dr. Webb was building.

The construction of the Mohawk & Malone Railroad by Dr. William Seward Webb through the heart of the Adirondacks is undertaken and remains an epic achievement in the history of American railroading.

The New York Forest Preserve becomes the Adirondack Park.

Date of David G. Wood surveyor map filed in the office of the Herkimer County Clerk on August 30, 1893 - referred to as Burnt Point. Warranty Deed from Wm Seward Webb and Eliza Osgood Webb of New York City, New York to Arletta E. Ingham of German Flats, New York -- Lots 40 and 41 -- WITH RIGHT OF REVERTER -- under conditions: (1) no intoxicating liquors to be sold, dealt in or given away, on the land by Ingham, her heirs, successors or assigns, without the consent in writing of WS Webb, his heirs, successors or assigns, (2) no forest fires (3) no erection of hotels, drinking places, taverns without consent of Webb or his heirs, successors, assigns. If breach, then title divested and returns to Webb/heirs/successors/assigns. Attachment to deed permits Ingham to serve liquors and erect hotel, saloon, tavern or drinking place on the land. Warranty Deed from Webb to Ingham recorded Lots 40 and 41.

New York State Constitution was amended so that all land in the forest preserve will be kept forever as wild forest lands.

U.S. President Benjamin Harrison rents Camp Dodd. President Harrison made arrangements to purchase property on Second Lake near Old Forge, New York. Harrison contracted with Charles E. Cronk, a Herkimer, New York, architect, to design and build Berkeley Lodge. Berkeley is a twin tower cottage with octagonal towers at either end of the middle living room. It is two stories with the living room oriented from side to side. Stairs at each tower lead to a landing and accessed the bedrooms. The lower two-thirds of Berkeley was sheathed with spruce logs and the top above the eaves was shingles. Attached to Berkeley was a cottage containing a kitchen, dining room and office. The camp also had a house for guides and a boathouse.

Governor Horatio Seymour dies at his sister's house. President Benjamin Harrison's Camp Berkeley Lodge is built on Second Lake part of the Fulton Chain lakes in the Adirondack Mountains. The northern-most township in Herkimer County, the Town of Wilmurt, is divided and renamed Town of Webb in honor of Dr. William Seward Webb.

Large tracts of land are sub-divided into small parcels and purchased primarily by seasonal property owners. William Thistlethwaite's Adirondack Development Corporation sells off hundreds of lots along the north shore of the Fulton Chain, in the Big Moose region, at Rondaxe Lake, and in the hamlet of the Old Forge.

Warranty deed from Arletta E. Ingham of Town of Webb, New York to William Bedell Sylvester of Brockport New York -- LOTS 40 and 41. Warranty deed from Ingham to Sylvester recorded - LOTS 40 and 41.

W. Seward Webb and Eliza Osgood Webb, his wife, of Shelburne, Vermont, sell by WARRANTY DEED to William J. Thistlethwaite of Little Falls, New York Lots 42 and 43 on Fourth Lake of the Fulton Chain of Lakes, Herkimer County, Township Eight, John Brown's Tract, Town of Webb, County of Herkimer, State of New York - with right of reverter to Webb if conditions not kept -- (1) trails and every way of communication of any kind either by land or by water across the lands, shall forever remain free and open to the People of the state of new York free and open to people of the state of new York, (2) land not used for commercial agriculture or manufacturing purposes; but (3) shall be used solely and exclusively for permanent forestry, hotel, camp or cottage purposes. Covenant runs with the land and binds the land whether owned by the party, his heirs successors or assigns, (4) Webb’s successors, heirs and assigns owning property on Fulton chain had right to use for domestic purposes the surplus water from any spring or streams on the property.

Webb to Thistlethwaite Warranty deed is recorded. In 1903, William Thistlethwaite purchases an extensive amount of Dr. Webb's property on the Fulton Chain and in the Village of Old Forge. The ink was hardly dry on the deed, when he began to sub-divide the land into building lots and formed The Adirondack Development Company. The hamlet of Old Forge is incorporated.

Quit Claim Deed is executed by William J. Thistlethwaite and Marie B. Thistlethwaite, his wife, of Herkimer, New York, to The Herkimer National Bank, of Herkimer, New York.

Quitclaim deed from William J. Thistlethwaite to The Herkimer National Bank is recorded. Quitclaim deed from The Herkimer National Bank to James Thistlethwaite of Ilion, New York is recorded. Warranty deed executed from James and Anna Thistlethwaite of Ilion New York to Helen Seymour Sylvester of Brockport, New York. Warranty deed conveying lots 42 and 43 from James and Anna Thistlethwaite to Helen Seymour Sylvester is recorded. Construction on Seymour Point Begins or may already have been underway.

Warranty deed from Helen and Wm Sylvester to Herbert Agate of Norwalk, Ohio - part of lot 43. Warranty deed from Sylvester to Agate for part of lot 43 is recorded.

Warranty deed from Wm Sylvester to Helen Sylvester - Lots 40 and 41. Warranty deed from Wm Sylvester to Helen Sylvester for lots 40 and 41 recorded.

By the 1920's, the Joy Tract, Brooklyn, Riverside and Gray Lake areas of Old Forge had been sold.

Helen Seymour Sylvester dies (Brockport, New York?). Last Will and Testament and Codicils Thereto of Helen Seymour Sylvester is probated in Monroe County, New York. HSS will leaves Seymour Point to her brother James H. Seymour and his heirs forever, with a life estate reserved to her husband William Sylvester.

William J. Thistlethwaite begins his term of service as a New York State Representative in the New York State Assembly, until 1931.

Mr. William Bedell Sylvester, son of John Seymour of New York and Lydia Bedell of New York, dies at age 86 in LaGrange, Illinois. William Bedell Seymour is buried in Brockport, New York.

James Horatio Seymour dies. Last Will and Testament of James Horatio Seymour is probated in Monroe County, New York. Helen Seymour Wiley, of Detroit, Michigan, niece of James H Seymour and Helen Seymour inherits the residual estate of James Seymour, including Seymour Point. Seymour Point property is made available for lease. Seymour Point is rented to Rosenau Family, including Bobbette Rosenau.

Original Boathouse is accidentally set on fire while the Rosenau family, as lessees, are in residence. The boathouse burns down. All other outbuildings and the main lodge are saved.

Executor's Deed of Merlin Wiley as Executor of Estate of James Horatio Seymour, deceased, to Helen Seymour Wiley of 1547 Washtenaw Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Executor’s Deed of Wiley to Helen Seymour Wiley is recorded.

Seymour Point is sold by HELEN SEYMOUR WILEY to James M. and Marjorie A. Kennedy, of Rome, New York, who rename it Kenwood. Wiley to Kennedy Full Covenant Deed is recorded.

New Kenwood boathouse is constructed to replace the original Seymour Point boathouse. Illuminating gas system is replaced with electricity in the main lodge.

Alger Island is purchased by the State of New York from Charles J. Engel. Alger Island, formerly owned by Mort and Ollie Alger, father and son, was called Deer Island in the late 1700's. Lean-to's were constructed during the 1960's with the last one finished in 1968.

Albert Gordon and Dorothea R. Gordon of Fayetteville, New York, husband and wife, purchase Kenwood from James M. Kennedy and Marjorie A. Kennedy of 230 Park Avenue, New York, New York and rename the property Penwood after the family business, Penfield Manufacturing Company, of Syracuse, New York. Kennedy to Gordon Warranty Deed is recorded. First telephone system is installed. First washing machine is installed on screened-in porch. Albert Gordon purchases Chris Craft mahogany boat.

Margery Ellin Gordon, of Fayetteville, New York and Alan Stuart Burstein of Detroit, Michigan, son of Dr. Harry Burstein and Florence Rosen Burstein are married in Syracuse, New York, at The Hotel Syracuse.

Albert Gordon dies, Syracuse, New York.

William Thistlethwaite dies and is buried in the cemetery he created by donating the land, Riverside Cemetery, Old Forge, next to the Moose River. His wife, brother and parents are also buried there.

Mark Albert Burstein, first son of Margery and Alan Burstein and first grandchild of Dorothea R. Gordon, is born in Syracuse, New York.

Dorothea R. Gordon conveys Lots 41, 42 and 43 by Warranty deed to Margery G. Burstein and Charles L. Gordon as tenants in common, reserving lot 40 to herself with a right of first refusal to Margery and Charles in the event she decides to sell lot 40, agreeing to sell it for $7,000. Warranty deed from Gordon to Burstein and Gordon recorded.

Florence Beth Burstein is born in Syracuse, New York.

Robert Gordon Burstein is born in Syracuse, New York.

Charles L. Gordon conveys by Warranty Deed his undivided 1/2 interest as tenant in common in Lots 41, 42, 43 to Margery G. Burstein and assigns interest in right of first refusal for Lot 40 to Margery.

Dorothea R. Gordon conveys Lot 40 to Margery G. Burstein retaining a life use of the lot, with right to build residential dwelling on the lot, with title to dwelling to vest in Margery and her heirs and assigns.

Driveway is extended up to the main lodge. Third Penwood boathouse is built. Pump House is demolished.

Dorothea Rosenthal Gordon dies, Syracuse, New York, at Crouse Irving Memorial Hospital, 12:24 a.m. The life estate Mrs. Gordon had reserved to herself expired and her daughter, Margery Gordon Burstein, is thus the sole owner of the property.

Lot 40 site is surveyed, a test pit is dug, and building permit process and nonjurisdiction letter is sought from Adirondack Park Agency in preparation for construction of Nina’s Camp (named after Dorothy R. Gordon’s grandchildren’s nickname for her). Mark Burstein and his partner undertake significant restoration and renovation work on the Penwood grounds, main house and outbuildings, including the restoration of the Wood Shed, which is fitted with a stone floor and retaining walls and is renamed the Chime House; the existing garage is given a concrete floor, expanded electrical capability, is shingled and repainted, and is given electric garage doors. The grounds are extensively pruned and cleaned. The beach is restored and outdoor furniture is added. Seating areas are added throughout the property. The interior boathouse window frames are stained. The old green metal roof of the lean to is replaced with cedar shingles. The old fiberglass waterslide is removed.

Nina’s Camp is completed.

Penwood as seen from space ...

Above is a satellite image of Penwood and its surroundings on Fourth Lake. Alger Island, also known as Big Island, is a state campground whose structures include only a scattering of lean-to's and a ranger station. The most notable feature in this image is Cohasset Point, known as one of the places where Chester Gillette stopped shortly after murdering Grace Billie Brown in 1906 on nearby Big Moose Lake. Legend has it that her ghost still haunts the vicinity of Cohasset Point. This murder, which captured the imagination of the American public, inspired Theodore Dreiser's "An American Tragedy."

The Adirondack Boys Recommend: Old California Lantern Company

Old California Lantern Company makes outstanding light fixtures for inside and outside the home. Here is a lamp post at Penwood with a Ginko tree filigree. The lanterns are hand made and are reasonably priced. The company focuses on Arts and Crafts designs but also makes other lines. The lanterns are well made. We like both the interior and exterior fixtures. You can order online at www.oldcalifornia.com.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Inside the Blue Line: the Adirondack Park

Ausable Club, Keene Valley

This is the main clubhouse of the Ausable Club in Keene Valley, New York. It is set in the middle of the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Park and is a private club. My friend Jennifer and her husband Bryce held their wedding reception at the club. Their rehearsal dinner was held at The Casino on the grounds of the Club. The floors and stairs creak when you walk on them and it feels like it could be haunted. At night, its pitch black. These private clubs are scattered throughout the Adirondack Park. In Old Forge, there is the Adirondack League Club. It is said that William Weld is a member of the Ausable Club. Members have individual lodges on club land but share in common club dining and recreational facilities.

Penwood Main Lodge in Winter

When it snows in Old Forge, it snows! Here is a view of the main lodge at Penwood in the middle of Winter 2005. The house is covered in snow and the woods are eerily quiet. There is a lone snowmobile in the distance, barely audible. The house is about 100 years old and has its own personality, its own stubborn soul. You can't recreate such character, at any price. It's a member of the family.

Twin Coves Boathouse, Fourth Lake

Twin Coves is just across Pine Bay from Penwood. This charming little boathouse is the same as it was when the Adirondack Boys were babies. It has witnessed everything that has entered Pine Bay and has not changed a bit across the decades. In all this time, I have never seen a boat enter or leave the boathouse, but I love to look at it from the shore and to photograph it as the seasons change. Red and brown are true Adirondack colors and I hope it never changes.

An Adirondack Screen Porch

An empty screen porch at Penwood is packed up for the winter. During the warm weather and through the fall, a screen porch is an extraordinary place to while away the afternoon. The Adirondack Boys live on their porch from morning to night, watching the kayakers trying to get a glimpse of the house, and watching nature move through its rhythms. We have had black bear visit us here, as well as ducks, loons, and other creatures of the woods.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Ice Recedes

Each year, the ice in Fourth Lake begins to recede and the lake comes to life. Here, the ice begins its annual retreat in April 2006, in Pine Bay, Fourth Lake. Not long after, my mother begins to put her feet into the lake and is swimming before anyone else in the Park.

A View from the Past

A view of Fourth Lake on a postcard from the 1900's. Fourth Lake is part of the Fulton Chain of Lakes and runs contiguously from Inlet, New York to Old Forge, New York - from First Lake Pond in Old Forge to Fifth Lake, a small lake at the end of a narrow channel from Fourth Lake.

The Mail Boat

Penwood's only remaining original mail bag, used for sending and receiving mail by Mail Boat. The Mail Boat was started at the request of President Harrison, who wanted to receive his mail at his Summer White House on First Lake, twice daily. The Mail Boat delivers mail on the Fulton Chain of lakes to this day, giving tours of the lakes in the "President Harrison" mail boat. The second Penwood mailbag was lost in Fourth Lake and never recovered.

Pine Acres

Pine Acres was the home of Richard Cohen and his family and is located on First Lake, Old Forge, New York. It is a massive, pagoda style mansion with brown shingles and red trim. The Cohen Family owns the Old Forge Hardware, founded by Moses Cohen, who traveled the wilderness with a pack on his back selling goods to the locals in small towns throughout the region. Pine Acres was sold in 2005. The asking price of the property was $3 million. At the same time, the Harrison House, former Summer White House of President Harrison, was sold by Sarah and Linda Cohen, the daughters of Richard Cohen and proprietors of Old Forge Hardware to this day. President Harrison has the distinction of having started the unique mail delivery service active on the Fulton Chain - the Mail Boat. Eager to receive his mail, the President insisted that it be delivered to him by boat twice daily. The new owners of Pine Acres restored the main lodge and outbuildings, especially the boathouse. The estate is now a great showplace and hosted the annual Old Forge Tennis Classic cocktail party in the summer of 2006.

Paownyc: an Adirondack Family Compound

Great Camp Paownyc on Fourth Lake, Fulton Chain of Lakes, is located near Inlet, New York. It is actually right between Eagle Bay and Inlet. Here, the massive boat house looks beautiful in a weathered green stain on cedar shingles. Paownyc includes several houses on the lake, each one in the same hue of green, which served as the inspiration for the stain color on the new house at Penwood. Growing up on Fourth Lake, I recall that a Donzi was always parked in this boathouse. It had a foot pedal for an accelerator rather than a stick accelerator, as most boats have. It was loud, colorful, fast and exotic - unlike the house. But it was also green. When blue tarps are hung inside the windows, Paownyc goes to sleep for the winter season. In this photograph, it is alive and kicking in July 2006.

Penwood History - September 30, 1953 to Present

Albert and Dorothea Rosenthal Gordon purchased Kenwood from Marjorie and James Kennedy on Labor Day weekend 1953. They renamed it Penwood after the family business, Penfield Mfg. Co., a regional mattress manufacturing company located on Salina Street in Syracuse, New York. The Gordons installed the first telephone service by running a line under Fourth Lake from Cohasset Point. They also rebuilt the main dock, the bridge, and repaired the porches. The first washing machine was installed.

After Albert Gordon's death in 1967, Mrs. Gordon sold Penwood to her daughter and son, Margery G. Burstein and Charles Louis Gordon. Mrs. Burstein in 1981 purchased Mr. Gordon's 1/2 undivided interst as tenant in common after which Mrs. Burstein owned lots 41, 42 and 43 with Mrs. Gordon retaining a life estate in Lot 40. Mrs. Burstein sold two lots from the original parcel, Lot 42 to George Spoll, of West Hartford, Connecticut, who built a home there and named it Pine Bay, after the name of the bay. Lot 43 was sold to Joseph and Josephine Testa of Syracuse, New York, who built a house there called Duck Haven, which thereafter was sold twice to new owners.

The Bursteins replaced the boathouse with a new two slip boathouse, replaced the dirt floors of the basement with concrete, and rebuilt the lean to. They removed the decayed pump house by the bridge and also rebuilt the bridge. The entire porch and stairway up to the house was rebuilt. The porch was significantly enlarged. The screened in porch was enclosed to house a large kitchen. A Smaller screen porch was built where there was formerly an open area on the porch. The back entrance was rebuilt and the back porch was rebuilt. Trees were removed throughout the property. A breakwater was built around most of the main peninsula. The biggest project was replacing the wood bark with cedar shakes after an unusual storm rotted out the south part of the main house. The two upstairs bathrooms were modernized. A clothes dryer was added for the first time. The electrical system was modernized.

Penwood History - September 28, 1944 to September 30, 1953

In 1944, the property was sold to James and Marjorie Kennedy of Rome, New York. When the property was sold, it came with the custom built furnishings in excellent condition, as well as a library full of books, including a scrapbook kept by Mrs. Sylvester. Kennedy was president of Revere Brass & Copper, Inc. and was an avid fisherman. He liked the proximity of the property to his home, only an hour away by car. Kennedy cleared the burned boards and materials that were the remnants of the original boathouse and constructed a new but modest boathouse with no guest quarters. It was large enough for two boats. They replaced the illuminating gas system in the main lodge with electricity.The property was renamed Kenwood. In the 1990’s the children and cousins of the Kennedys visited the property at the invitation of the property's current owners, Margery Gordon Burstein and Alan Burstein. James Kennedy found the wheelbarrow he used to hand carry groceries and luggage from the parking lot to the main house, which remains on the property today. The driveway from the South Shore Road to the house, one third of a mile long, ended at the bottom of the hill on which the main house was built. Everything had to be hand carried from the parking lot or dock to the main lodge until 1991, when Margery and Alan Burstein extended the driveway all the way up to the main house's back entrance.

Penwood History - February 21, 1901 to September 28, 1944

Seymour Point

The first owners who built the lodge and outbuildings that now comprise Penwood, William Bedell Sylvester and Helen Seymour Sylvester, built the camp over a period of years starting in 1901, but some documentation shows that work may have begun as early as 1897.

Known as Burnt Point in 1893 on surveyor maps, the Sylvesters renamed the property Seymour Point after Mrs. Sylvester's maiden name. Mrs. Sylvester came from a politically prominent and wealthy family. Mrs. Sylvester's relative, Horatio Seymour, had been Governor of the State of New York from and was the candidate for President of the United States against Ulysses S. Grant.

George Burnap, well known regional builder of Adirondack rustic camps, built the camp in a style reflecting the work of William West Durant, pioneer of the Great Camp style. Locals talked about the unique design of the windows, which included an unusual hinge allowing each window to be raised up an inch out of a protected groove before opening. When each window was closed, it slid back down into the original position, providing a tight fit and insulation in this seasonal house. Marylee Armour in Heartwood, her biography of W. Donald Burnap, George Burnap's son, and David Beetle's book Up Old Forge Way, specifically mention facts about Mr. Sylvester, the building of the camp, and details about the boathouse. The Adirondack syle buildings included:

1. The Camp
2. The Wood Shed
3. The Boathouse
4. The Lean-to
5. The Garage
6. The Pump House
7. Workers barracks for the crew and storage of building supplies.

Treated hemlock bark shingles were used as the exterior building material on some of the buildings, including the main lodge. Some of the camp's original furniture was manufactured in the workers' barracks, including the large dining room table with multiple leaves seating 10 at its greatest size, dining room chairs, a large credenza for the dining room, end and side tables, footstools, umbrella stand, and custom bookshelves in the living room. In addition, each bedroom has a custom built chest of drawers, writing desk, cabinet and luggage rack. The largest bedroom had two luggage racks. All of the furniture was designed in the arts and crafts style and had signature details matching the rustic aura of the camp. Canvas wall covering separates the distinctive beam construction of the downstairs. The canvas was originally a light brown color but was repainted white when Syracuse businessman Albert and Dorothea Rosenthal Gordon acquired the property in 1953.

According to local stories, the three story boathouse was used as quarters for the Sylvester family servants and guests, and there was a small gasoline engine driven sawmill on the ground floor. Mr. Sylvester proudly sported a large launch, which he generously used to pick up neighbors and transport them to church and other places on the lake. He also planted spruce trees that fill the property.

In 1939, according to Bobbette Rosenau, whose family rented Seymour Point from the Estate of James Horatio Seymour, after the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Sylvester, and whose family had a camp on Fourth Lake, The Boulders, now owned by Lorraine Rosenau Alexander and Ben Alexander, the boathouse burned down. A fire truck came to put out the fire and broke the dock when it drove out on to it to douse the flames. The camp and other buildings were saved, but the magnificent boathouse was destroyed. It was never rebuilt in the grand style in which it was originally constructed, with a large wrap around porch on the upper level, several slips for boats, and quarters upstairs for guests and servants.

Penwood from the Sky

Aerial View of Penwood taken by our pilot friend Chris Droz. Penwood was built around 1906 and sits on the Fulton Chain of Lakes.

Welcome to the Adirondacks!

Welcome to our blog! We are two guys who built a home in New York State's great Adirondack Park and love to share its treasures with our friends. We have been on the hunt for the best of the Adirondacks in a single place, one great reference for all things fabulous in the Adirondacks. And this is it! We can't wait to share our Adirondacks with you -- from its Great Camps to its great camp. -- The Boys