Sunday, August 31, 2014

Historical Biographies and William West Durant

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat follows is a guest essay by Sheila Myers, who is working on a historical novel based on the life of William West Durant.

In science there is an expression that theories can never be proved, only disproved. I teach science, and that may be why a comment I read while researching William West Durant for my novel about his life provoked me to find out where this famous builder of Great Camps in the Adirondacks drew his inspiration. This then led me to uncover some fallacies in his biography.

It started with the dissertation by Mary Ellen Domblewski (Cornell University, 1974). In it she conjectures that Durant, having no formal training in architecture, may have visited the Bernese Oberland during his time abroad. It would be there, she believed, he would have observed the Swiss cottage style that he emulated at great camps Pine Knot and Sagamore.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Johnsburg Historical Exhibit: What’s In Your Attic?

johnsburg-historical-society-logoThe Widlund Gallery at Tannery Pond Community Center (TPCC) in North Creek will present “What’s In Your Attic?”, a Johnsburg Historical Society exhibit of locally collected historic artifacts which will open on Saturday, August 30th, and continue until September 24th. All are invited to attend the reception, Saturday 30 from 5 pm to 7 pm, followed by a concert by the Trio Casals.

Now in their 40th year, Johnsburg Historical Society has been fulfilling its mission to preserve, protect and promote the history of the Town of Johnsburg since 1973. A collection of artifacts, photographs, textiles, books and more are housed at the Wevertown Community Center, a two-storey white building (formerly Odd Fellows Meeting Hall) just north of the corner of Route 28 and Route 8 – on Route 8. Meetings are held monthly on the first Monday at 11 am. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Minerva’s Ella Lynch, Defender of Parental Rights

4aEFLynchTo the dismay of Minerva’s high-profile educator, Ella Lynch, the struggle for quality American schooling continued through the 1920s, seemingly based on that wonderful definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. The newest plan to fix an admittedly broken system? Add another grade: kindergarten.

Concerned educators were baffled by the suggestion. Despite Ella’s proven system and successful organizations, the solution to a terrible public-school system was expansion of that very system? More of the same would surely do the trick?

While officials agreed that Lynch was correct about the value of teaching very young children, they decided that the disastrous school system was a better choice than having parents do it at home. Behind that plan were powerful forces: companies that, with an extra grade mandated in schools across the country, could sell more materials and services.

From another perspective, the plan was a direct threat to parental rights. Should mandatory kindergarten become law, children would be forcibly removed from the home at an even younger age. » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Wanakena Footbridge Replacement Fundraising Underway

Wanakena Ice Jam BridgeSeveral nonprofits from across the Adirondack region have partnered to raise  funds to rebuild the historic and iconic Wanakena Footbridge in the Clifton-Fine community. The suspension bridge was destroyed in January, 2014 when an ice jam on the Oswegatchie River broke and slammed into its side.

Built in 1902 by the Rich Lumber Company, the footbridge provided pedestrian access to residential and commercial areas of Wanakena. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Estimates put the full cost of construction at $250,000.

The Wanakena Historical Association has already raised nearly $38,000, but to extend the campaign’s, reach the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has partnered with other local nonprofits to establish an online Adirondack Gives crowdfunding effort.   The Wanakena Footbridge campaign can be found on the Adirondack Gives website. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Diane Chase: Introducing Adirondack Architecture

IMG_5418My family has spent the last month showing off the Adirondacks to a young friend visiting from Holland. In a week he’ll be off to study architecture in Prague. We’ve hiked, canoed and camped as well visited Olympic sites, outdoor concerts and museums.

He has been fascinated by the amount of green space we have, off-grid living and sustainable landscapes. The last segment of his whirlwind Adirondack tour will be White Pine Camp in Paul Smiths and Great Camp Sagamore in Raquette Lake. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Newcomb Plans Biggest TR Weekend Yet Sept 5-7

TR Weekend 2The Town of Newcomb will celebrate its annual TR Weekend on September 5-7, 2014 with more events than you can shake a big stick at.  TR Weekend celebrates the town’s connection with Theodore Roosevelt, a naturalist, explorer, and historian from New York City who served as the 33rd Governor of New York State the 26th President of the United States.

TR was a leader of the Republican Party before helping to  found the Progressive Party. He is known for his energetic personality and his leadership of the Progressive Movement’s efforts to break corporate monopolies, regulate businesses (notably the food and drug industries), foster conservation, and expand public lands. His slogan “speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far,” is still widely quoted. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Minerva Educator Ella Lynch Goes International

3aBooklessLessonsIn 1922, another of Ella Lynch’s titles was published: Bookless Lessons for the Teacher–Mother, offering more help to those parents wishing to effectively teach their children. On that front, big battles were brewing. Attempts were under way to legislate rural schools out of existence and force centralization.

Lynch said that because tax dollars were taken from the public, “It is right that the state should assist in educating children. It is not right that it should absolutely control that education in everything. It is not right that parents should be obliged to feed and clothe their children, and take care of them in sickness, and pay their doctor and dentist bills, and be compelled to send them to school and have no voice in the substance or methods of those children’s studies. Our authority is weak enough now, goodness knows. Let us be careful how we weaken it further.”

She fought vigorously for years against allowing city-school policies to permeate rural America. Among the high-profile organizations supporting her contentions was the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. After studying American schools, Carnegie’s findings, said Lynch, “Have jarred the educational world, for it says that our system of public education is becoming alarmingly superficial, is fostering ‘educational farces,’ and building up ‘delusive courses.’ ” » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Tour And Reception Planned At White Pine Camp

Mist Rising on Osgood PoondOn Sunday, September 14th, Historic Saranac Lake will host “Welcome to the Summer White House!” The afternoon features a tour and reception at White Pine Camp, an Adirondack Great Camp built in 1907, where President Calvin Coolidge spent ten consecutive weeks during the summer of 1926.

Guests will take guided tours of the buildings and grounds from 2:00-3:30 pm followed by a wine reception featuring favorite foods of various U.S. Presidents. The reception will be held in an idyllic setting at the water’s edge in one of the Camp’s boathouses on Osgood Pond. Highlights of the tour will include the “Great Room,” Japanese tea house, rock garden, bowling alley, tennis house, guest cabins, and service buildings, as well as a display of historic memorabilia and video of President Coolidge’s visit. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Alexander Lamberton:
Old Forge Pioneer And Nature Preservationist

Alexander Lamberton Medallion B 100_2137Lamberton Street, among the shorter (and newer) streets in Old Forge which  connects Park Avenue to Fulton Street at the Fire Station, is named for one of Old Forge’s earliest historical figures, Alexander Byron Lamberton.

Unknown to most Fulton Chain residents, Lamberton is usually mentioned only as the family who sold the Forge House and Tract to Dr. Alexander Crosby and Samuel Garmon in 1888.  But if you go to the popular Lamberton Conservatory at Highland Park in Rochester, you will see his image memorialized in a large bronze medallion above its entrance.  The crest to the right of the medallion contains a cross, deer head, crest and scroll.

Lamberton’s single entry in the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Adirondack Bibliography is for an 1876 article about his adventures bringing salmon fry to the John Brown Tract.  His role in Fulton Chain and Adirondack history is largely unheralded, but more important than many realize.   » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mountain Men Rendezvous At Adirondack Museum

AdirondackMuseum-MountainManAndVisitors-Aug15&16The American Mountain Men are traveling from throughout New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont to converge at the Adirondack Museum again for their annual Adirondack rendezvous, from 10 am to 5 pm on Friday, August 15, and Saturday, August 16.

During one of the museum’s most popular events, visitors have an opportunity to explore and discover how life was lived in the wilderness in the 1820s to 1840s.  The mountain men camp out in their tents and tipis throughout the museum campus and, dressed in historically accurate clothing, talk about early 19th century survival skills. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Minerva’s Ella Lynch: The Importance of Learning to Learn

2aEFLynch1925Ella Frances Lynch—well spoken, thoughtful, and passionate in defining the problems with America’s public school system—refused to back down from proposed reforms. She was right and she knew it. Newspapers featured Ella’s editorials regularly, but the biggest attention-getter was a series of articles she wrote for Ladies Home Journal beginning in 1912. The title: “Is the Public School a Failure? It Is; the Most Momentous Failure in Our American life Today.”

Said Lynch, “Can you imagine a more grossly stupid, a more genuinely asinine system tenaciously persisted in to the fearful detriment of over 17 million children, and at a cost to you of over $403 million each year—a system that not only is absolutely ineffective in its results, but also actually harmful in that it throws each year 93 out of every 100 children into the world of action absolutely unfitted for even the simplest tasks of life? … The public school system is not something to be proud of, but a system that is today the shame of America.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Searching For An 1878 Cabin On Raquette Lake

William H Hill Parcel arialThrough my research on the mysterious Thacher Cabin, I learned that numerous newspaper articles and books referenced the cabin’s existence, none however, clarified where the cabin was located. Maps of Raquette Lake have given no indication of the location, and no photos or drawings of the cabin have been found.

I chose to begin my search by focusing on the one visitor to the cabin for whom historical records might exist.   In Aber and King’s History of Hamilton County, it is written that the Henry Gabriels, later the Bishop of Ogdensburg, performed Catholic Mass at the Thacher Camp, July 11th to the 14th, 1878. In the hope that this early mass in the Adirondacks might be of historical significance, I contacted the archivist of the Diocese of Ogdensburg looking for any original documents or photos of Gabriels’ visit. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

President of Plattsburgh: The Story of Smith Weed

Smith Weed BiographyRouses Point businessman Mark L. Barie has written the first biography of North Country politician Smith Weed. In The President of Plattsburgh, The Story of Smith Weed (Crossborder Publishing, 2014), Barie paints a portrait of Weed – six feet tall, with piercing black eyes – a man who was said to smoke nine cigars a day.

Smith Weed was instrumental in the establishment of the Champlain Valley Hospital, the YMCA, the Plattsburgh Library, and the Hotel Champlain, but was perhaps best known nationally for his central role in “The Cipher Dispatches” voter fraud controversy during the fiercely disputed presidential election of 1876.

Weed was President (Mayor) of Plattsburgh in the mid-19th century and served six terms in the New York State Assembly. The Plattsburgh attorney was also a successful businessman and philanthropist. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Old Stone Barracks Named To Endangered Resources List

464582_357114547674715_1290279954_oThe Preservation League of New York State has named the Old Stone Barracks in Plattsburgh to its list of the Empire State’s most threatened historic resources, Seven to Save.

Constructed in 1838, this is the oldest building at the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, it illustrates the longstanding military presence in New York’s North Country between 1812 and 1995. The building boasts massive stone walls, heavy timber framing, and a two-story columned porch running the full length of the north façade. With views of Valcour Island, Cumberland Head, Grand Isle and the Green Mountains of Vermont, the building conveys the central role that military activities played in the history of the Champlain Valley. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Ella Frances Lynch: Minerva’s Maven of Early Education

1aEFLynchBeginning here is the story of an unknown but truly remarkable woman, an educator from Adirondack history. But first, some related information is helpful for perspective. For starters, here’s a sampling of complaints about our educational system: low graduation rates; undeserved diplomas; graduates lacking in real-world skills; students woefully unprepared for college; students without self-discipline, and more. Those are all issues today, but the very same items were also cited in 1970.

Since that time, our spending on education has risen by about 85 percent, but we’ve improved very little, still stymied by the same problems. In the meantime, we’ve fallen far behind many other countries, while still spouting that we’re the greatest country in the world. If we don’t find the answers soon, the hollow ring of that claim might well become deafening.

Since 1970, we’ve improved just about everything: civil rights, technology, weapons, communications, you name it—but in educating our youth, we’re failing over and over in so many ways. Sure, there are good kids, smart kids, geniuses, and prosperous citizens coming out of our schools, but consider a few shocking numbers that provide some balance. » Continue Reading.


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