Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Reflections on White Pine Camp

We at Adirondack Architectural Heritage were devastated to hear of the terrible fire that engulfed several of the buildings at White Pine Camp on Sunday evening. By Monday morning, we learned that the fire had been contained to a cluster of buildings in what was the former service complex and that the camp’s Main Lodge, lakeside cabins, boathouses, and other buildings were spared.

We sincerely thank all the fire departments and their personnel who responded to this fire and for their good work in saving so much of this historic camp complex.

AARCH has followed the plight and rebirth of White Pine Camp for thirty years and has had the pleasure of offering dozens of tours and special events. In 2018, we published White Pine Camp: The Saga of an Adirondack Great Camp and Summer White House. The transformation of this camp from a neglected and endangered property in the early 1990s to the extraordinary destination that it is today is largely the work of AARCH founder Howie Kirschenbaum, now with great support of the 40 members of White Pine Camp Associates who own and operate it.

We wish them all the best in their efforts to rebuild and reopen the camp so that it can continue to be a marvelous Adirondack destination and experience.

Photo of Sunday’s fire above courtesy of Amy Fisher Quinn

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Steven Engelhart is the Executive Director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), the regional historic preservation organization of the Adirondack Park. AARCH's mission is to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the region's built environment.

Among AARCH's many activities are: sponsoring a series of tours of historic places; offering workshops; giving slide presentations; publishing a newsletter; managing Camp Santanoni, advocating on behalf of threatened historic sites; and providing technical assistance to individuals, organizations and local governments.

Steven is a native of the region and has a BA from SUNY Plattsburgh and a MS in historic preservation from the University of Vermont. He is the author of Crossing the River: Historic Bridges of the AuSable River, a small book about bridges and local history of the AuSable Valley. He resides in Wadhams and loves to hike, canoe, read, play the banjo, explore the region, and spend time with family and friends.

4 Responses

  1. Mary C. Breeding says:

    Devastated to hear the news regarding this phenomenally significant site. Treasured memories and best wishes to the owners as they assess and rebuild.

  2. Michael Mero says:

    Went to Paul Smith, terminal forestry ” White Pine Camp” “Piner”, great camp sorry for the loss, never forget the place! Class of ’70

    • John Marona says:

      Also a “Piner” class of “70. Living in Lake Clear now. I paddled out on Osgood Pond the day after the fire to see for myself what had happened. From the water, everything looked much the same. Owners is still standing along with the main lodge , but my old dorm is gone. I spoke briefly with a couple and their 3 year old child sitting out at the “Tea House”, they were obviously shaken but were staying on a few more days bout the sound of our conversation. Also spoke with an older gentleman putting in his dock at a camp on the other side of the lake. He said there were several very large explosions one of which shook the windows of his camp, probably propane tanks. When my wife and I have had visitors from out of town we often would take them for tours of White Pine Camp, a great experience. Our yearbook photo of the 1970 class is hanging in the bowling ally by the way. It is sad to here of the fire, but there a great group of people that own the camp now, and I wish them the very best for the work they have ahead of them.

  3. robert a miller says:

    I first visited the Hotel Saranac 55 yrs ago; through the decades I stayed there when possible, even through the “the Indian” years.They had a great gift shop (though way overpriced) and I loved the Paul Smiths run restaurant. When I visited the hotel last summer after all the renovations etc I was disgusted with the glass and chrome motif instead of a more rustic wood “north country” look. Even the Lake Placid Marriott Courtyard appears more in the Adirondack style. What numbskulls designed this?
    Architects from NYC?