Posts Tagged ‘Architecture – Historic Preservation’

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Green Path, Green Builder Event at The Wild Center

The Wild Center is the only LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified museum in New York State. LEED is a green building rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to provide standards for environmentally sustainable construction. The certification is considered the international benchmark for green building design. The Wild Center is going farther then just the certification, however, and will host a special day in October for builders and regional leaders to learn about the newest techniques and technologies of green building. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

New Northern Forest Institute Announced For Newcomb

The DEC has officially announced that the historic Masten House (at left), on the site of the former iron mines in Tahawus in Newcomb, Essex County, will be the site of “a new leadership and training institute that focuses on the research and management of northern forests.” Northern forests is intended to mean the area that “extends from Lake Ontario at Tug Hill, across the Adirondacks to northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.”

Regular Almanack readers know that Eliot Spitzer’s budget called for $125,000 from the Environmental Protection Fund to be put toward SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s purchase and rehabilitation of the Masten House – that had apparently fallen through, late in the budget process, but was apparently found somewhere in DEC’s budget..

The DEC’s press release notes:

The project is a cooperative effort that will enhance forest preserve and wildlands management research and contribute to the local economy. ESF will run the Northern Forest Institute (NFI) on a 46-acre portion of a property owned by [Open Space Institute’s] Open Space Conservancy and leased on a long-term basis to the college for $1 a year. Establishment of the institute is being aided by a $1 million grant from Empire State Development to OSI and $125,000 from DEC to ESF. In addition, DEC has committed $1.6 million over the next four years to ESF scientists who will conduct three research projects on visitor demand, experiences, and impacts, as well as a training program for DEC employees responsible for managing recreational visits to New York State forest preserve lands.

The NFI will focus on meeting the educational and research needs of professional audiences, including representatives of state agencies, business leaders, and educators. The institute will also serve the general public, particularly college and secondary school students.

Here is some history of the Masten House from DEC:

Masten House is within the state historic district that encompasses the former town of Adirondack at the southern entrance to the High Peaks Wilderness area. The town was settled in 1826 and was home to one of the region’s first iron mines and early blast furnaces. The village was resettled in the late 19th century as the Tahawus Club…

The eight-bedroom Masten House was built in 1905 near secluded Henderson Lake and was used as a corporate retreat by NL Industries, which operated a nearby mining site. Masten House is within the state historic district that encompasses the former town of Adirondac at the southern entrance to the High Peaks Wilderness area. The town was settled in 1826 and was home to one of the region’s first iron mines and early blast furnaces. The village was resettled in the late 19th century as the Tahawus Club. Then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was staying at Tahawus in 1901 when he learned that President William McKinley had been shot. [Actually, as is noted by a commenter below, Roosevelt already knew McKinley was shot, he thought that the President would be OK and so went to Tahawus].


Monday, July 7, 2008

Andy Flynn’s New Blog ‘Adirondack Writer’

Adirondack Almanack gets a lot of requests to link to new blogs and nearly all of them we turn down because they don’t have anything to do with the Adirondacks. By the way, our criteria for inclusion as an Adirondack blog is simple – it should be written in or about the Adirondacks. A new blog from Andy Flynn promises both.

Flynn, from Saranac Lake, reports that he:

Writes the newspaper column, ‘Adirondack Attic,’ which runs weekly in five northern New York newspapers. It features stories about artifacts from the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. Andy is the author of the book series, New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, with volumes 1-5 in stores now. He owns/operates Hungry Bear Publishing and lives in Saranac Lake, N.Y. During the day, he is the Senior Public Information Specialist at the NYS Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths.

A recent post covered his so far unsuccessful attempts to save a historic one-room schoolhouse in Ellenburg Center (Clinton County):

In this case, I contacted the Adirondack Museum to see if they were interested in saving this schoolhouse, No. 11, in Clinton County. Not really. You see, they already have a one-room schoolhouse, the Reising Schoolhouse, built in 1907 in the Herkimer County town of Ohio. The Reising Schoolhouse was located in the extreme southern part of the Adirondack Park. The Ellenburg Center schoolhouse is located in the extreme northern part of the Adirondack Park.

The Adirondack Museum’s chief curator suggested I call Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) in Keeseville, which I did. The director and I spoke about the situation and agreed it would be a good idea to see the structure first. If anyone can help with saving an historic building in the Adirondack Park, it is AARCH.

So, that’s where we are. If there is any way to help, we’ll try to make it happen. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find someone in the Adirondack region, hopefully in Clinton County, who can help preserve this one-room schoolhouse, an important part of our rich North Country heritage.

Give Andy’s new blog a read, and lend a hand in his latest effort if you can.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Great Camps of the Adirondacks at the Adirondack Museum

From an Adirondack Museum media release:

Adirondack rustic lodges or “great camps” as their wealthy owners called them, were summer vacation homes. Built primarily of wood and stone and set deep in the great forests, the truly fabulous structures are today both relics of a bygone age and prototype for the contemporary architect, amateur builder, and historian.

On Monday, July 7, 2008, Dr. Harvey H. Kaiser will offer a program entitled “Great Camps of the Adirondacks, 25 Years Later” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York.

The first offering of the season in the museum’s Monday Evening Lecture series, the slide-illustrated presentation will be held in the museum’s auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $4.00 for non-members.

Dr. Kaiser’s talk will be based on his book Great Camps of the Adirondacks. This seminal study of rustic architecture is about great camps built from 1870 to 1930, establishing a style of domestic architecture imitated throughout the country in similar terrain of lakes, timber, and native stone.

Kaiser will preface his observations on the architecture with the history of the Adirondacks and the social forces that created structures that retain their charm and utility, in some cases a century and a quarter after construction. There are fascinating accounts of both the personalities who engineered and financed fabulous great camps, and of the buildings themselves.

When he wrote Great Camps, Kaiser made a strong case for preservation. The destruction of these remarkable structures would have been an irreparable loss, not only to our architectural heritage but also to every individual to whom they are a resource and inspiration.

In his presentation, Kaiser will offer observations on the book’s concerns, the changes that rescued the camps from demise, and the resurgent interest in rustic architecture.

Dr. Kaiser is president of Harvey H. Kaiser Associates, Inc., a consulting firm providing services domestically and internationally in architecture, urban planning, and facilities management.

In addition to Great Camps of the Adirondacks, Kaiser’s current research interest is historic architecture in the national parks. He is the author of Landmarks in the Landscape: Historic Architecture in the Western National Parks, guidebooks on parks in the far and southwest.

The Adirondack Museum tells the story of the Adirondacks through exhibits, special events, classes for schools, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. Open for a new season from May 23 to October 19, 2008. Introducing Rustic Tomorrow — a new exhibit. For information about upcoming exhibits and programs, please call (518) 352-7311, or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org/


Friday, June 27, 2008

Adirondack Museum’s 21st Annual Rustic Fair

From the Adirondack Museum:

Talented artists from the Adirondack Park and across the United States bring highly prized craftsmanship and creative expression to one-of-a-kind rustic designs exhibited and sold at the Adirondack Museum’s 21st Annual Rustic Fair. This is the largest event of its kind in the Northeast!

Enjoy delicious food, and great music by the Lime Hollow Boys (Saturday) and traditional fiddling by Frank Orsini (Sunday). See demonstrations of rustic furniture making, carving, and painting throughout the weekend (September 6 and 7, 2008 10 am – 4 pm.

Here is a list of the 2008 Rustic Artisans

Gene Albright
Refined Rustics

Fred Beckhorn
Natural Form Furniture

Barney & Susan Bellinger
Sampson Bog Studio

Tom Benware
Adirondack Woodwright

William Betrus
Adirondack Custom Twig

Steve Bowers
Bald Mountain Rustics

Nathan Broomfield
Zoya Woodworks

Charley Brown
Mote Fly Rustic

Matthew Burnett *
Matt Burnett Paintings

Gary Casagrain
Casagrain Studio & Gallery

Steve & Gwenn Chisholm
High Ridge Rustics

Jim Clark *

Rhea Costello
Paintings by Rhea

Reid Crosby
Branch & Burl

David Daby
Adirondack Rustic Creations

Brant Davis
Gone Wild Creations, Inc.

Jay Dawson
Major Pieces

Russ DeFonce & Deb Jones
Bookman Rustic Furniture

Jeanne Dupre
Adirondack Watercolors

Dave Engelhardt *
Angelheardt Designs

Douglas Francis
Aurora Rustics

John Gallis
Norsemen Designs West

Russ Gleaves & Bill Coffey

Brian Gluck
Rustic Cedar

Brad Greenwood
Greenwood Designs

Barry & Matthew Gregson
Adirondack Rustics Gallery

Eric Gulbrandsen
Trout Pond Rustics

Wayne Hall *

Christopher Hawver
Woodsmith Rustic Furniture

Jason Henderson
J.R. Henderson Designs

Randy Holden
Elegantly Twisted

Michael Hutton *
The Rustic and Painted Garden

Wayne Ignatuk
Swallowtail Studio

Michael Kazlo
Adirondack Mountain Rustic

Phil Kellogg
Adirondack Rustic Furnishings

Morris Kopels
Glens Falls Rustic Studio

Janice and Jonathan Kostreva
Bear View Ridge Rustic Furniture and Lighting

Gary Krauss *
Native Woods

Paul Lakata
Rustic Artwork

Donald Moss
Don Moss Rustic

Anto Parseghian
Abiding Branches

Bill Perkins
Sleeping Bear Twig Furniture

Thomas Phillips
Thomas Phillips Rustic Furniture

Rick & Denise Pratt
Around the Bend

Daniel Quinn
Nature’s Design

Kevin & Jeannie Ridgeway
Unique Woodworks

Michael Ringer
St. Lawrence Gallery

Jim Schreiner
Great Sacandaga Designs

Steven Shroder
Stickworks Custom Furniture

Charles Phinney & Stan Steeves
Harvest Hardwoods

Robert Stump
Robert Stump Studios

Jamie Sutliff
Cold River Gallery

Jonathan Swartwout *
Fisher of the Berry

John Taylor
Rustic Furniture by John and Marjorie Taylor

Jim Thomson
Thomson Rustic Furnishings

Jane Voorhees
Jane Voorhees, Custom Furnishings and Accessories

Judd Weisberg

Tom Welsh
The Rustic Homestead

Bim Willow
Willow Works, Inc.

* Indicates a new artisan


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Adirondack Museum Suspends Lake Placid Project

Just arrived from the Adirondack Museum:

Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York announced today that it has suspended work on its plan to erect a building on Main Street in Lake Placid, N.Y. to house a new branch of the museum and its existing store.

Museum Director Caroline Welsh said that the decision was made very reluctantly and only after detailed consideration of financial and other implications of the project for the museum. The decision was made at a special meeting of the museum’s Board of Trustees on June 23, 2008.

According to John Fritzinger, Chairman of the Board, the decision is the result of the cumulative impact of several key factors.

These include the extended period required to obtain the permits needed to proceed; continuing litigation over those permits that offers the prospect of even further delay and expense; escalation in costs related to the construction and operation of the museum; and the difficulty of raising the necessary capital in the face of deteriorating and uncertain financial markets, a strained economy, and the potential effects of high gas prices on museum visitation.

Ms. Welsh said the Board of Trustees is most appreciative of the strong support the Adirondack Museum has received for the Lake Placid branch from Mayor Jamie Rogers, Town of North Elba Supervisor Robi Politi, and many members of the community. She expressed the thanks of the museum to all for all their help and enthusiasm as the project moved forward.

Welsh also noted that the Board is particularly grateful for outstanding work by architects David Childs and Roger Duffy of Skidmore Owings & Merrill in creating an exciting design for the proposed new museum.

The Lake Placid project was part of the Adirondack Museum’s overall strategic plan that includes the goal of projecting the museum’s presence beyond Blue Mountain Lake. The Director emphasized that the goal remains in place. The museum recognizes the importance of Lake Placid as a cultural hub of the Adirondacks and a premier resort destination. Welsh said that the
museum will continue to deliver its programs and collections to the residents of and visitors to the Tri-Lakes area.

Welsh announced that the Adirondack Museum would partner with the Lake Placid Center for the Arts to offer annual exhibits at the Center’s facility. “Rustic Tomorrow” will be the first exhibition. A show of unique rustic furniture created through the collaboration of noteworthy architects, designers, and craftsmen, the exhibit premiered at the museum’s Blue Mountain Lake campus in May, and will travel to LPCA in late fall.

She also confirmed that museum outreach programs will continue in the village, including the popular Lake Placid “Cabin Fever Sunday” programs.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Adirondack Museum Opens for 51st Season

The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake will open for the season this Friday (May 23th) and then daily until October 19th from from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Except Sept. 5 and 19 when the museum prepares for special events.

This year they have renewed their commitment of free admission for year round residents of the Adirondack Park during May, June and October. Proof of residency is required. All regular paid admissions are valid for a second visit within a one-week period.

New this year is a revised Woods and Waters: Outdoor Recreation in the Adirondacks exhibit that features new research by Adirondack Almanack regular reader and Adirondack historian Phil Terrie.

Also new will be Adirondack Voices, an interactive computer and web-based activity accessible in the Woods and Waters exhibit or on the museum web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org.

We’ve already reported the premiere of the Rustic Tomorrow exhibit in which six modernist and post modernist architects or designers have been paired with prominent Adirondack rustic furniture makers.

Also new this year will be “Mildred Hooker’s Tent Platform” where visitors can experience camping in an 1880s platform tent, and “Mrs. Merwin’s Kitchen Garden” the replicated vegetable garden of Frances Merwin, wife of Blue Mountain House owner Miles Tyler Merwin. The garden will feature heirloom varieties of vegetables that were once common in Adirondack gardens.

The “Whimsy and Play Rustic Tot Lot” (opening in July) is a play area designed just for toddlers and pre-school age children. Pint-size visitors can romp and play on a wooden rocker, scamper up and down a rustic bridge, or swing from timbers rustically decorated with twigs, bark, and pinecones. Carved animals will be part of the fun, ready for giggles, hugs, and photo opportunities.

In addition, a child-sized log cabin set in the apple orchard near the schoolhouse will provide children (and their elders) with an opportunity to see cabin being constructed log-by-log. This will be an on-going demonstration during the summer, offering visitors the opportunity to talk to the builder as the cabin arises. In 2009 the fully furnished cabin will open to families for imaginative play.

The Adirondack Museum has planned a full schedule of lectures, demonstrations, field trips, special events, and activities for 2008 to delight and engage people of all ages. To learn more about all that the museum has to offer, please visit www.adirondackmuseum.org or call (518)352-7311.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Adirondack Museum Launches ‘Rustic Tomorrow’

Recently received from the Adirondack Museum, the announcement of a new project that takes Adirondack rustic design into the future. The exhibit will be an interesting addition to the ongoing (until October 31) Adirondack Rustic: Nature’s Art 1876 – 1950. Sounds like a great time to visit the museum. Locals get into the museum free during a few weeks in May (something they don’t advertise anymore, so give them a call for dates), but if you can’t make it then, here is a link to a $2.00 discount (see the “special offer” at the right, mid-page).

The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York will introduce a very special exhibit this season called Rustic Tomorrow. Six modernist and post modernist architects or designers have been paired with prominent Adirondack rustic furniture makers. The results of these collaborations are one-of-a-kind pieces, distinctly futuristic in design, but constructed using traditional time-honored techniques.

The goal of the project is to demonstrate the relevance of Adirondack rustic traditions to contemporary life and design.

Rustic Tomorrow will be on exhibit at the Adirondack Museum from May 23 through October 19, 2008. The exhibition will travel to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Lake Placid, N.Y. for a November 7 through December 13,2008 showing, and to the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute in Utica, N.Y. from February 14 to April 19, 2009.

The six unique pieces that are Rustic Tomorrow will be displayed at D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc. Gallery in New York City in April 2009. They will be sold at auction to benefit the Adirondack Museum.

Ann Stillman O’Leary, who founded her firm, Evergreen House Interiors, Inc, Lake Placid, N.Y. in 1989, originated the Rustic Tomorrow project. O’Leary has established a solid reputation in the field of interior design. Known for leading the renaissance in rustic architecture and interior design, she is sought after for her distinctive style that is both rustic and refined. O’Leary is the author of the best selling books Adirondack Style and Rustic Revisited. She has been featured on the Today Show, HGTV radio, Cabin Life, House and Garden Channel and in numerous national publications.

The Participant Partners

David M. Childs joined the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1971 after serving on the Pennsylvania Avenue Commission. Mr. Child’s diverse range of design projects circle the globe. He is the designer for the World Trade Center Tower 1 at the World Trade Center site, and the new Pennsylvania Station at the historic Farley Post Office building in New York City. His more recently completed work includes the new 7 World Trade Center and the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Childs is a Fellow, American Institute of Architects (FAIA). His work has been widely published.

Wayne Ignatuk, owner of Swallowtail Studios in Jay, N.Y., spent eighteen years as an engineer in the laser industry before his woodworking hobby became a career. His style has evolved from twig chairs and tables to more complex designs he describes as “organic arts and crafts.” Ignatuk’s work has been profiled on HGTV’s “The Good Life,” in the book Adirondack Home, in Adirondack Life magazine and other publications. He exhibits his work at the finest rustic shows in the country.

In 1998 The New York Times declared Dennis Wedlick a “rising star in architecture.” The “rise” has continued as Wedlick’s work has garnered awareness and accolades in both the media and architecture community. He began his career working with world-renowned architect Philip Johnson. His own firm, Dennis Wedlick Architect, LLC has become synonymous with quality, craft, and the best in contemporary picturesque design. He was recently named to Architecture Digest’s AD 100 – showcasing the top international designers and architects.

Rustic furniture artist Barney Bellinger is the owner of Sampson Bog Studio, Mayfield, N.Y. It is an art studio where bark, twigs and natural materials are gathered into the hands of a craftsman inspired by the logging trails, wildlife refuges, fly fishing sites, and the Great Camps of the Adirondacks. Furniture created by Barney Bellinger has been exhibited at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the Adirondack Museum, and the Ralph Kylloe Gallery, and appears in the permanent collections of the Orvis Company and the Smithsonian Institution.

Michael Graves has been at the forefront of architecture and design since he founded his firm in 1964. Michael Graves and Associates – the architecture and interior design practices, and Michael Graves Design Group – the product and graphic design group, have received more than 185 awards for design excellence. Design projects range from urban architecture to consumer products. Graves himself received the American Institute of Architect’s Gold Medal, the highest award bestowed on an individual as well as twelve honorary doctorates. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The work of Furniture Artist Jason Henderson stands out for its ability to push the tradition of Adirondack style furniture into new and interesting design areas. His interpretation of rusticity is closely aligned with studio furniture and contemporary furniture design. His work has an “edge” and has earned a bit of notoriety. “Dining Chair” (2003) received the Most Original Design award at the Adirondack Museum’s Annual Rustic Fair and was purchased by the museum for the permanent collection. He was profiled by Adirondack Life magazine in 2006 in an article aptly called “Mr. Henderson Presents.” Henderson lives and works in the Lake George, N.Y. area.

Thomas Cardone has had a long career as an Art Director in the film industry. He spent thirteen years with The Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California before joining 20th Century Fox’ New York-based Blue Sky Studios in 2002. His most recent project has been art direction for “Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who!” which premiered in the spring of 2008. Among Cardone’s many film credits are “Ice Age: The Melt Down;” “Robots;” “Chicken Little;” “The Emperor’s New Groove;” and “Pocahontas.”
Russ Gleaves love of nature began when he moved to a log cabin in the Adirondacks as a young child. Raised in Queens, N.Y. Bill Coffey has created custom furniture with many of New York City’s finest craftsmen. His love for the Adirondacks – nurtured as a child on vacation – led him to Northville, N.Y. in 1999. There he met Russ, and the pair has been creating one-of-a-kind innovative rustic furniture ever since. The duo takes pride in crafting pieces that will be passed down through many generations. Customers in Wyoming, Wisconsin, New York City, and Japan have commissioned their
work.

Allan Shope has been an architect and furniture maker for thirty years. He founded the distinguished architectural firm of Shope, Reno, Wharton Associates in 1981. Shope’s abiding interest in the use of sustainable building materials, land use, and alternative non-fossil energy sources led to him to found Listening Rock Farm and Environmental Center in Armenia, N.Y. The focus is on man’s problematic relationship with the earth around him. “Carbon neutral” is the minimum standard for the Center.

Judd Weisberg has his home and studio in Lexington, Greene County, New York in the Catskills surrounded by rivers, lakes, and streams, which inform his life and work as an artist, designer, teacher, and environmentalist. He creates furniture environments for the home, business, and for sets and properties for performing arts applications. Finishes are non-toxic and are expressive of the burnished or matte looks found in nature. His work is in private collections and homes nationwide Nils Luderowski is an architect whose practice is about residential architecture and design in an Adirondack vernacular. His studio offers traditional architectural services including site planning, interior design, furniture design, and custom artisan work. Luderowski pioneered the “New Adirondack Style” of architecture, an authentic blend of Shingle, Craftsman, Prairie and regional expressions, incorporating modern living requirements and current technology. In the mid 1990s he settled in Keene, N.Y. in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondack Mountains.

Creating unique and functional art has been Jay Dawson’s passion since he began designing pieces over 20 years ago. A self-taught craftsman, he has worked with wood in some form for most of his life. He is well known for both furniture and stairways and has developed a reputation for custom creations. He works with clients, architects, and interior designers to ensure that each piece meets expectations for beauty, quality and functionality. Dawson’s work has appeared in many publications including Smithsonian Magazine, Log Home Living, and the book Rustic Furniture by
Daniel Mack. He created archways for Woodstock 1999, the 2000 Goodwill Games, and the 2000 Empire State Games.

The Adirondack Museum has the finest collection of historic Adirondack rustic furniture and furnishings, not in private hands, in the country. The museum hosts an annual Rustic Fair in the fall. The fair attracts more than sixty highly skilled rustic craftsmen from all parts of the United States and Canada, and is the largest rustic show in the eastern part of the country. The 21st Annual Rustic Fair is planned for September 5, 6, and 7, 2008.

The Adirondack Museum is a regional museum of art, history and material culture. It is nationally known for extensive collections, exhibits, and research library that together reflect stories of life, work, and play in the Adirondack Park and northern New York State. The museum celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007. To learn about all the Adirondack Museum as to offer, please visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

The Adirondack Museum tells the story of the Adirondacks through exhibits, special events, classes for schools, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. The museum will open for a new season on May 23, 2008, introducing a new exhibit Rustic Tomorrow. For information about upcoming exhibits and programs, please call (518) 352-7311, or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

This is the rest of the post


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Seven Human Made Wonders of the Adirondacks

In no particular order, Adirondack Almanack’s list of Seven Human Made Wonders of the Adirondacks. Our list of the Seven Natural Wonders can be found here. Feel free to add your comments and suggestions.

Whiteface Memorial Highway
Although Lake George’s Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway deserves honorable mention, the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway deserves a spot on our list of wonders. Considered a test case for both the New Deal Works Progress Administration and the constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve, construction began in 1929 (after passage of the necessary amendment) and eventually cost 1.2 million dollars. The completed road, an eight-mile climb (at 8 percent average grade) from the crossroads in Wilmington, comes within 400 feet of the summit of the fifth highest mountain in the Adirondacks. New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt announced at the groundbreaking that a “distinguished French engineer” had driven the road and told him, “I, of course, know all of the great mountain highways of Europe. There is no highway in all of Europe which can compare for its engineering skill, for its perfection of detail, with the White Face Mountain Highway of the State of New York.” When the road was completed, F.D.R. (by then President of the United States) officially opened the route on July 20, 1935 and dedicated it to the “veterans of the Great War.” In his closing remarks F.D.R. said “I wish very much that it were possible for me to walk up the few remaining feet to the actual top of the mountain. Some day they are going to make it possible for people who cannot make the little climb to go up there in a comfortable and easy elevator.” The result of F.D.R’s desire is the 424-foot tunnel into the core of the mountain that ends in a elevator which rises 276 feet (about 27 stories) to the summit.

Fort Ticonderoga
Although the earliest archeological evidence of Indian settlement dates to 8,000 B.C. (and Native Americans were planting crops there as early as 1,000 B.C.), the first fort built there by Europeans was Fort Carillon constructed by the French in 1755-1758 during the French and Indian War. It’s location at the narrow strip of land between Lake Champlain and Lake George meant that the fort, called the “key to the continent,” controlled the northern portion of America‘s most important north-south travel route through the earl 19th century. Its impressive placement atop the cliffs and its European design kept it from being taken by an overwhelming British force under General Abercromby in 1758. It was taken the following year under General Amherst and again on May 10, 1775, when Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and the Green Mountain Boys surprised the sleeping British garrison. It was retaken by the British in July 1777 by General Burgoyne who managed to place cannon on Mount Defiance overlooking the fort. In 1820, William Ferris Pell bought the ruins and in 1908 Stephen and Sarah Gibbs Thompson Pell began restoration. The following year it was opened to the public (President Taft was on hand) and in 1931 Fort Ticonderoga was designated a not-for-profit educational historic site managed by the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

The Adirondack Museum
Some day the Wild Center in Tupper Lake may make this list, but until then the Aidirondack Museum owns the title Adirondack wonder. The brainchild of mining baron Harold Hochschild, the museum has recently reached its 50th year preserving the heritage of the Adirondacks. Although it began as a small endeavor it has become a must see attraction of 32 acres and 22 buildings. Nearly 3 million visitors have seen the exhibits on mining, logging, boating, recreation, and the environment and culture of the Adirondacks. It is the single largest collection of Adirondack artifacts, including thousands of books (60 published by the museum), periodicals, manuscripts, maps and government documents, over 2,500 original works of art, 70,000 photographs, 300 boats and wheeled vehicles, and a large collection of rustic furniture, art, and architecture. Highlights include the Marion River Carry Railroad engine passenger car and the carriage that brought Vice President Theodore Roosevelt to North Creek the night President William McKinley was assassinated.

North Country Public Radio
Founded at St. Lawrence University and now celebrating their 40th year, today’s North Country Public Radio is a network of stations broadcast from 30 fm transmitters and translators from the Canadian frontier to Western Vermont and south into Hudson Valley. Its regional and national news, public affairs, and music programs have become a part of Adirondack culture in a way that gives NCPR a place on our list of Adirondack wonders. Whether its a ham dinner in Placid, a lost dog in the Keene Valley, a fire in Pottersville, or a political event in Saranac or Tupper, NCPR reaches over, around, and seemingly through the mountains and into our homes in ways nothing else in the North Country does. That’s a wonder in itself.

Keeseville Stone Arch Bridge
Workers building the historic Stone Arch Bridge over the AuSable River on Main Street in Keeseville had a close call in 1842. The bridge of native stone, believed at the time to be the largest such bridge in the country, was being built to replace the original wooden structure erected in 1805. The men had completed the first course of stone including the keystones and had nearly finished the second course when a violent storm blew in. Just as more then 30 men fled the storm’s heavy rain to a wooden shed on the bank of the river, the entire bridge collapsed into the AuSable with a thunderous crash said to have shaken buildings as far away as Port Kent. Since then it’s done quiet service. Rehabilitated in 2000 and now carrying more than 5,500 vehicles a day, the bridge still stands as a testament to Adirondack engineering. Its total length is over one hundred feet with 90 foot stone arch span.

Santa’s Workshop
Each year more and more of the region’s theme parks fade into oblivion. Those that have been lost include Old McDonald’s Farm (Lake Placid), The Land of Make Believe (Upper Jay), Frontier Town (North Hudson), Storytown (now the corporate Great Escape), Gaslight Village (Lake George), and Time Town (Bolton Landing). Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY seems the last of a breed and some of the remaining (and still operational in its original context) handiwork of Arto Monaco. Monaco was the local artist who designed sets for MGM and Warner Brothers, a fake German village in the Arizona desert to train World War II soldiers, and later his own Land of Make Believe (as well as parts of Storytown, Gaslight Village, and Frontier Town). Lake Placid businessman Julian Reiss’s Santa’s workshop opened July 1, 1949 and included a very early prototype petty zoo; it received its own zip code (12946) in 1953. A record daily attendance occurred in 1951 when 14,000 people walked through the gates. Julian’s son Bob Reiss took over the operation in the early 1970s, but the number of visitors has continued to drop with the park closing in 2001 only to reopen, hopefully for good.

Lake Placid Sports Complex

From the early competitions at the Lake Placid Club to the modern Olympic Training Facility, the sports complexes in and around Lake Placid have been bringing the sports world to our doorsteps for over a hundred years. Most are familiar with the stats: 12 awards in each the 1932 and 1980 games; Jack’s Shea two gold medals (the first American to win two gold medals at the same Olympics); figure skater-turned movie star Sonja Henie’s second of three consecutive Olympic gold medals, speed skater Eric Heiden’s five medal sweep (including one world record); “The Miracle” of 1980. After the 1980 Games, the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) combined under one management Whiteface, the bobsled, luge, cross-country ski and biathlon facilities at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the Olympic Center, the speed skating oval, and the jumping complex. Since then ORDA has hosted hundreds of major national and international events, including world championships and world cup competitions in bobsled, luge, skeleton, alpine racing, ski jumping, speed skating, freestyle skiing and snowboarding. The Olympic Training facility opened in 1988 (one of only three in the country) and includes a 96-room dormitory that meets the needs of more than 6,000 athletes a year. The Lake Placid facilities are in one of only three communities in the world to have hosted two Winter Olympics, and that alone makes them an Adirondack wonder.

What do you think?

Fire away – let us know which Adirondack human and natural constructed things/places are the most significant, must-see attractions, marvels of engineering, historically important, or have other significance that makes them one of your top seven?

Remember – two lists – one for the human-made wonders, one for natural wonders.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bridge Collapse Recalls Historic Adirondack Disaster

The recent collapse of the bridge spanning the Mississippi River at Minneapolis brought to mind the tragic history of similar events in the Adirondacks.

Workers building the historic Stone Arch Bridge (photo above from the late 1800s) over the Ausable River in Keeseville had a close call in 1842. The bridge of native stone, believed at the time to be the largest such bridge in the country, was being built to replace the original wooden structure erected in 1805. The men had completed the first course of stone including the keystones and had nearly finished the second course when a violent storm blew in. Just as more then 30 men fled the storm’s heavy rain to a wooden shed on the bank of the river the entire bridge collapsed into the Ausable with a thunderous crash. The tremendous crash was said to have shaken buildings as far away as Port Kent.

Delays in the construction of the bridge caused by the collapse inadvertently caused a more tragic accident that same year. On local militia “muster day,” September 13, 1842, the unfinished bridge caused the Essex County militia to cross a smaller swinging bridge (supported by chains) nearby. The bridge was filled with bystanders as they marched across in lock step. It’s believed the overloaded bridge combined with the stamping feet of the marchers caused the bridge to collapse into the churning river below. Local newspapers reported that nine people were drowned, and four later died of exposure. Two boys, Richard Pope and Richard Peabody, were swept over a nearby dam with their arms around each other and were among those drowned.

A similar accident twice befell the men building what was then longest bridge in the world (3,239 feet) over the St. Lawrence River at Quebec. As one of the enormous spans was being raised from pontoons, it gave way and crashed into the river taking with it fifty men. Observers said the central span, weighing more than 5,000 tons, buckled at the center before it fell. At least five were killed. The accident occurred in 1916, but just nine years before a similar accident on the same bridge killed 70.In the spring of 1931 the Whallonsburg bridge, which carried much of the Albany-Montreal traffic over the Bouquet River in Essex County, collapsed while Robert O’Neil of Willsboro was crossing. O’Neil’s car fell nearly twelve feet but he escaped uninjured. The bridge’s steel trusses slipped from one of its abutments. The next day four boys were sitting on the railing of the wrecked bridge when it gave way and they went into the water. Kenneth McDougall was knocked unconscious from a serious head injury but the others escaped relatively unharmed. The photo at right shows the new abutments, made of rough quartzite from Champlain Stone.The 1842 Chain Bridge Collapse ranks among the deadliest accidents ever in the Adirondack region. Read more about the others here.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Adirondack Architectural Heritage 2007 Awards

Adirondack Architectural Heritage has announced awards for six local property owners and partnerships for “sensitive restoration, rehabilitation and long-term stewardship.” Unfortunately, their website does not include the most recent winners. From what we’ve gathered from the Press Republican, they are:

Bob Reiss and Doug Waterbury for stewardship of Santa’s Workshop, founded in 1949 in Wilmington.

Fred Schneider, Web Parker, and Chris Covert of Renaissance Development for restoration of the circa 1906 Stark Hardware Building in Saranac Lake.

Robert Mayket, Tim Maloney, Todd Kemp, and Brian Boyer for a sensitive restoration of the Twin Pines boathouse on Loon Lake (circa early 1900s).

Bill Zullo for long-term stewardship the 1870 Bed & Breakfast in Indian Lake.

Gary Heurich for restoration and relighting of the Split Rock lighthouse, in Essex on Lake Champlain. The lighthouse was established in 1838 and replaced in 1867.

Paul and Shirley Bubar for appropriate restoration of the Wells House in Pottersville (built in 1845).

From their website, where they maintain a list of endangered properties in the Adirondacks:

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the nonprofit historic preservation organization for New York State’s Adirondack Park. AARCH was formed in 1990 with a mission to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondack’s unique and diverse architectural heritage. This legacy includes not only the nationally recognized “Great Camps” and other rustic buildings but also the many other structures that embody the whole range of human experience in the region. These other structures include: a wide variety of homes and farmsteads; the churches, commercial buildings, town halls and libraries that make up most Adirondack settlements; bridges, railroad buildings, lighthouses and other transportation related structures; and industrial sites related to the region’s important iron, wood, quarrying and tanning industries.



Wait, before you go,

sign up for news updates from the Adirondack Almanack!