The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently finalized a management plan dedicating more restoration and maintenance to Newcomb’s historic Great Camp Santanoni.
According to Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) Executive Director Steven Engelhart the preservation of Camp Santanoni was one of the first issues that helped to form the nonprofit preservation organization. Now, 25 years later, AARCH continues to provide historic outreach, education and advocacy around the Adirondack Park.
“Camp Santanoni was already owned by NYS for about 18 years before we got involved, but their interest was in the land, not as an historic site,” says Engelhart. “The good news though was in that 18-year period they didn’t immediately tear buildings down like they had in the past. Santanoni is an unusual case as we were able to convince NYS to preserve it. We’ve been able to show them that we are a good partner. Now for over 20 years we’ve taken on the architectural and planning role. It is a big role for a small nonprofit.”
Engelhart points out the the Adirondack Preserve’s master plan includes historic preservation. He brings up the preservation of John Brown’s Farm in Lake Placid as well as the various colonial era forts.
“We have done a lot of educational outreach and advocacy. The fire towers were slated to be dismantled and it took the public speaking up and saying that these landmarks are an important part of how we experience the forest preserve,” continues Englehart. “To their credit, the DEC listened.”
Through this new management plan the rebuilding of the burned Santanoni barn is now a reality although Engelhart realizes that AARCH and the Friends of Camp Santanoni have a responsibility first for the care to the other buildings that currently exist.
“It’s important to rebuild the barn because without it, it is difficult to visualize how large this farm was and how it was a key point to the operation of Santanoni. We also see the barn serving as a Visitor’s Center and providing interpretive exhibits.”
Specific fundraising for the barn structure is not currently underway, but anyone interested in helping preserve Camp Santanoni is welcome to become a member of the Friends of Santanoni. If a financial contribution isn’t possible, there are also four volunteer work days scheduled over the summer months.
Photo of AARCH Executive Director Steven Engelhart at Camp Santanoni used with the permission of Diane Chase, AdirondackFamilyTime.com