Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Camp Uncas, a Designated National Historic Landmark

Camp Uncas remains one of the preeminent and best preserved cultural resources chronicling the nationally-significant development of Adirondack camp architecture. William West Durant, a real-estate investor and proponent of the region, devised the camps to promote the area as a premier resort for affluent Americans. Over a fifteen-year period leading up to the design and construction of Camp Uncas, Durant experimented with combining rustic architectural expression and urban comforts. Through trial and error at Camp Pine Knot, he launched a new American property type that decentralized the components of an Anglo-American country seat, a physical outcome purposefully designed to be subordinate to the natural landscape. Built over a course of two years, Camp Uncas was Durant's first effort in applying the architectural principles that evolved at Pine Knot into a unified and comprehensive development. Camp Uncas is situated on a peninsula on a private lake and buffered from neighboring properties by its own forest preserve. Durant’s camp compound plan is expressed through the deliberate, yet informal siting of the buildings, which display a rustic aesthetic in part a reflection of the regional building vernacular and in part influenced by the alpine structures of Europe. Camp Uncas and its period neighbors are notable not only as evidence of Durant's success in transforming the Adirondacks into a destination for leisure, but also for their rustic architecture and camp organization, both of which gave shape to organizational camp design and state and national park architecture in the twentieth century. A milestone in Durant’s career and camp development, Camp Uncas retains an unusually high degree of physical integrity—including character-defining features related to siting, materials, and workmanship—making it one of finest examples of its type in the country. Source: U.S. National Historic Landmarks Program

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