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Archive for the ‘Adirondacks’ Category

Serene, Patinaed Fantasy

In Adirondacks, Champlain Valley, Memoir, Renovation & Rehabilitation, What's the story? on September 29, 2011 at 11:41 am
Apartment buildings lining the south side of E...

East 57th Street between First and Sutton (via Wikipedia)

Accustomed to living out of a suitcase, I pendulumed back and forth between Manhattan where Susan was wrapping up a degree in interior design following a decade-long career in video production, and Westport, New York, where both of our parents owned homes and where we’d met a couple of years prior.

Susan had recently refinished a one bedroom apartment in The Galleria, and she was itching to sell it and start a new project. I was intrigued by the prospect of collaborating on a project and plugging my recent Paris experience into a tired but dignified New York apartment, but the Adirondacks were pulling me. After almost half a lifetime living in cities, I yearned to return to the rhythms and pleasures of rural life.

My idealized notion of a country house had its roots in a small farm that my parents had bought in Washington County while still living in New York City in the 1970s. Initially a getaway for my recently married parents trying to balance life and careers in New York City and later, albeit briefly, a full time residence, The Farm underpins my love for countryside and provides my earliest childhood memories.

The perfect place, I explained to Bruce, the friend and realtor who shuttled me from property to property, would be a small, simple farmhouse in the middle of fields with a sturdy barn and some acreage, maybe a stream or a pond or access to a river. Barns, in particular, pulled me. Secluded places with good light and views, forgotten places with stories still vaguely audible if you slowed down long enough to hear the voices. No loud traffic. An old overgrown orchard, perhaps. Asparagus and rhubarb gone feral near the barn. Stone walls, lots of stone walls and maybe an old stone foundation from a building long ago abandoned, the cellar hole full to bursting with day lilies. A couple of old chimneys in the farmhouse with fireplaces. A simple but spacious kitchen. A bedroom with plenty of windows. A room to read and write and collage the walls with notes, lists, photos, drawings and scraps. Someplace I could tinker at myself, gradually restoring the walls and plaster and roof. Timeworn wide plank floorboards of varying widths that I would sand by hand to avoid erasing the footpaths and dings and cupping from a burst pipe years before.

Although I’d painted the picture often enough, my budget and unwillingness to abandon the serene, patinaed fantasy resulted in a few false starts but mostly a very clear idea of what I was not interested in buying. On the upside, I came around and helped Susan select and renovate a coop in a 1926 McKim, Mead and White prewar located on 57th Street just off Sutton Place. An elegant apartment in a handsome building. Great bones, view and sunlight enhanced with a top-to-bottom environmentally responsible, non-toxic renovation. A success!

Though there were occasional fireworks when our aesthetics and convictions clashed, we enjoyed working together and decided to look for a North Country property that would suit both of our interests…

Paris Renovation Bug

In Adirondacks, Champlain Valley, Memoir, Renovation & Rehabilitation on September 27, 2011 at 10:50 pm
Paris Exposition: Eiffel Tower, Paris, France,...

Image by Brooklyn Museum via Flickr

Starting in about 2003 I initiated an unfocused real estate hunt for a “fixer-upper” in the AdirondacksChamplain Valley. I’d returned from four years in Europe with enough savings to justify some idle time, a reprieve I hoped to plough into a long languishing novel while tinkering with the vestiges of a web-based business I’d launched in Paris a few years before.

But I couldn’t shake the renovation bug that had bitten me quite unexpectedly while bringing a luxury vacation rental to market in Paris’ Faubourg St. Germaine.

I’d made it into my early thirties without owning a home due to my intentionally peripatetic lifestyle, and despite an aesthete’s appetite for buildings and furnishing and gardens, I hadn’t the least interest in settling down. No biological clock ticking. No nesting instinct. No yen for taxes and maintenance and burst pipes and snow shoveling. No desire whatsoever for the trappings of a settled, domestic life. I understood why it appealed to others, but for me the commitments and encumbrances far outweighed the pride and financial wisdom of home ownership.

Until recently.

Something had changed, and I couldn’t quite figure out how or why.

I’d spent the better part of a year and a half immersed in the acquisition, renovation and marketing of a grand Haussmannian property that promised tourists an opportunity to enjoy Paris à la Parisienne. My business partner and I joked that it was “Versailles in the heart of Paris”, which was a gross exaggeration, but fifteen foot ceilings, 3,200+ square feet of living space including three master suites, a grande salon, a petite salon and a formal dining room invited exaggeration. Magnificent marble fireplaces, intricate plaster moldings, hardwood floors and meticulous finish details exuded Parisian elegance by the time we started booking the accommodation, but it hadn’t always looked so inviting.

The property underwent a top-to-bottom transformation between the day we received the key and the day we shot the photographs for our brochures and website. Half of the property had been gutted and rebuilt from scratch. One bathroom was remodeled and two new bathrooms were created from scratch. Walls were moved, electrical systems were rewired. Carpets were ripped out and herringbone hardwood floors were hand sanded and resealed. Magnificent crown moldings were painstakingly restored, and sconces, chandeliers, and period hardware were refinished.

No architect. No designer. No engineer. Just outsized self confidence and a hepped up learning curve. I scribbled construction drawings on walls and fumbled through French and Portuguese until contractors seemed to understand what I wanted. With the Lebanese contractors I gesticulated, made funny sound effects and scribbled some more. That we completed the project at all was a miracle. That the results were exquisite, a mystery that still awes me. Though I’d grown up assisting my parents with a couple of renovation projects, I’d never before undertaken anything so ambitious or complex. Or so rewarding.

Although our business plan involved duplicating the process in Italy and in Spain, the woman I’d been dating for two years lived in New York City, and after two years of cycling through Paris, Rome and Manhattan on a roughly two week cycle, I opted to trade the business for the woman I loved. I dissolved my interest in the business, packed up my apartments in Paris and Rome, and moved back to the United States.

[To be continued…]

Totally, unabashedly, irreversibly seduced

In Adirondacks, Boathouse, Carriage Barn, Daily Munge, Historic Essex, House, Ice House, Lake Champlain, Renovation & Rehabilitation on July 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Today’s question from Al Katkowsky‘s Question of the Day book was the perfect invitation to reflect on Rosslyn Redux, the “big picture”!

What should you definitely not have done that turned out okay anyway?

In the summer of 2006 I definitely should not have purchased a dilapidated, almost two hundred year old house in Essex, New York. Definitely not. Not if I wanted to stay sane, solvent or married. Not if I wanted to do anything else in my life except for renovating, babysitting contractors, and nurturing this handsome old house back to life…

But I was totally, unabashedly, irreversibly seduced by Rosslyn, a sagging-but-still-stately, almost two century year old property on the Adirondack shores of Lake Champlain. My new bride and I swapped Manhattan for North Country bliss.

Our plan? Renovate a home. Grow a garden. Plant an orchard. Raise a dog. Swim, sail, ski, hike, bike and live happily ever after.

Or not…

Over a hundred carpenters, tradesmen and artisans later; over four times our budget and planned timeline later; and over countless marriage-testing misadventures later we finally finished our renovation. In time for the biggest flood in over two centuries to swamp our boathouse and waterfront for two months…

We should definitely not have undertaken this wildly ambitious project. But we did. And it turned out okay anyway. So far!

Check out RosslynRedux.com for a vicarious plunge into the idiosyncrasies (and absurdities) of our renovation, marriage and North Country life.

The Adirondack Chair Revisited

In Adirondacks, Daily Munge, History & Heritage on June 29, 2011 at 7:30 am

Adirondack R&R in one of many versions of the Adirondack Chair

“To all whom it may concern: Be it known that I, Harry C. Bunnell, a citizen of the United States, residing at Westport, in the county of Essex and the State of New York, have invented a new and useful Improvement in Chairs. … ” So begins patent number 794,777, dated July 18, 1905, in reference to what we commonly refer to as the Adirondack Chair. With its signature slanted back and wide armrests, the recognizable profile of this outdoor recliner has become a trademark of summer in America. Despite the patent filed over a hundred years ago, though, Harry Bunnell, a carpenter and shop owner, was not actually the one who created the chair’s design. (via NYTimes.com.)

Image from original patent for the Adirondack Chair

Image from original patent for the Adirondack Chair

In Monday’s Rosslyn Roundup I included a link to a post about the Adirondack Chair, invented by Thomas Lee in 1903 but copied and adapted by countless carpenters since. A welcome surprise then to see the New York Times’ The 6th Floor blog tackling the same timely topic today. In “Who Made That Adirondack Chair?” Hilary Greenbaum highlights Harry C. Bunnel’s decision to patent the design actually invented by Thomas Lee allegedly without his permission. A case of vintage Adirondack snark? Perhaps. But even in Hilary’s telling, Lee seems to have been gracious and let the matter go, permitting his friend to produce the chairs for profit for a quarter century.

As luck would have it, I’m friendly with several of Thomas Lee’s descendants to still reside in (or visit) Westport — our Lake Champlain neighbor to the south —  where the original Westport chairs (aka Adirondack chairs) were invented and produced. I’ll have to ask if there’s any more to this story, perhaps passed down through the generations. In fact, Bruce Ware, the realtor who showed us property for several years and ultimately brokered the deal for us when we purchased Rosslyn is directly or indirectly related to Thomas Lee. I’ll see what I can find out…

If you know any more about the history of the Adirondack chair, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Rosslyn Roundup, June 27

In Adirondacks, Champlain Valley, Daily Munge, History & Heritage on June 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm
Adirondack chairs

Adirondack chairs (photo courtesy of albanykid.com)

It’s time for another Rosslyn Roundup to share everything Rosslyn-related that I didn’t get a chance to post this past week. Summer in the Champlain Valley has a way of inching along slowly, slowly, slowly and then suddenly galloping off! This summer was not exception, but the transition was even more apparent because of protracted Lake Champlain flooding. With almost two months a record breaking high water, the flood delayed the normal spring/summer transition. And once the water did finally drop, everyone hustled double-time to catch up!

This has been especially evident in our fair hamlet by the lake. Essex is undergoing a veritable renaissance! Despite early concerns that The Old Dock Restaurant and the Essex Shipyard and Rudder Club might be unable to open for the season due to severe flood damage, both are racing a July 1 opening date. And that’s only part of the Essex renaissance. Nary a storefront in the village is empty, and the offerings are exceptional. In fact, there’s so much activity that a new website has been born to tell the Essex story called Essex on Lake Champlain; it will serve as a digital bulletin board and community blog for Essex, New York. I’ve included a parade of blog posts from the website in my roundup below, so I hope you’ll take a moment to discover why Essex is such a grand place to live and visit.

In addition to the Essex stories, I’m starting with a post about the now ubiquitous Adirondack chair courtesy of Wanda Shapiro (@WandaShapiro), the author of Sometimes That Happens With Chicken. Although this chair proudly announces its Adirondack heritage wherever it is enjoyed, not many know that it was actually invented in Westport, the next town south of Essex. You may be surprised about its history!

Without further ado, I offer you the June 27 Rosslyn Roundup:

  • The Adirondack, Burnell, Westport or Muskoka Chair: Westport Chair was the original name for the Adirondack Chair… There is in fact a small town populated by about 1500 people called Westport, New York, on the western shores of Lake Champlain. It is on the very eastern edge of the Adirondack Park, and is quite a picturesque vacation destination. In1903 one Mr Thomas Lee set about to build the perfect chair for such a spot, as all his relations had taken up those in his mountainside cabin.
  • Travel Writing Contest Hosted by Champlain Area Trails: Get your pencils sharpened, your laptops powered, and your cameras ready, Champlain Area Trails (CATS) will soon launch its first Travel Writing Contest. It’s your chance to write about your travels in New York’s central Champlain Valley—to share your favorite experiences on the Champlain Area Trails–whether it’s hiking, walking, skiing, snowshoeing, birding, tracking, picnicking, or a little bit of each…
  • Provisions and Paparazzi in Essex, NY: “Essex is alive with both new and well-established businesses, opening up, dusting off and getting ready for the season…” So opens Sue Cameron’s “Provisions and Papparazzi” post on LakePlacid.com on June 14. Essex is alive! It’s incredible how much is going on in Essex these last couple of weeks. Essex businesses have proven that even a record breaking flood can’t drown the Essex spirit. Residents, businesses and friends of both are pulling together for what is shaping up to be the best summer in decades.
  • Longtime Residents Recall Essex Inn Years Ago: Last Sunday Alvin Reiner at the Press-Republican ran a fascinating story about the Essex Inn and the fusion of past and future in this historic landmark recently renovated by the Daltons and now open to the public. “We are reaching out to bridge the gap, as there is often a lot of knowledge that gets lost,” she said. (via Press-Republican.) Essex has long represented an important bridge back into history, but the Dalton’s Essex Inn revitalization is one of many new bridges forward toward a bright and shiny future.
  • Summer Arrives in Essex on Lake Champlain: Kim Rielly posted an enthusiastic blog post about summer in Essex celebrating flood recovery, exciting new businesses and the timeless charm that has drawn visitors and residents for decades. She asks, “could it possibly be true that the recently-submerged businesses were planning to open THIS summer? It’s true. In fact, the community is not only ready to welcome visitors for the summer – it is veritably BUZZING with activity.”
  • The Neighborhood Nest: A Gathering of Art, Nature and Antiques: Now in its 16th season, The Neighborhood Nest is one of the oldest businesses in Essex, NY but remains forever surprising! Open daily between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm, The Nest features a treasure hunt experience that spills into a wildly beautiful garden.
  • Pantouf’s Celebrates Summer with Beautiful Glassware: Yesterday I visited Helen Goetz at Pantouf’s in Essex. If you’ve never seen her beautiful glass work, now’s the perfect time to swing by before she gets swarmed with visitors… In addition to showing me her colorful glass serving platters and pitchers, Helen graciously toured me through the home, explaining how it had been configured and functioned when occupied by the Essex town doctor.
  • Live Well in the Champlain Valley: Another new addition to the Essex wellness scene is blooming on Main Street with the opening of Live Well. The beautifully remodeled space offers a wide range of health and healing services, and represents the collaborative genius of three Champlain Valley holistic health and wellness practitioners…
  • Full and By Farm, June 23, 2011: We took advantage of the beautifully sunny weather spell to make hay. We cut about 22 acres starting last week, and successfully baled 19 of it. The rain caught us in the middle of raking the last small field and we had to abandon the project. Once the grass and clover is cut rain begins to leach away the nutrients. Four straight days of rain is enough to ruin the hay as winter feed. It’s always a sad defeat, but part of making hay with an ever changing weather forecast.
  • The Old Dock Restaurant: The Old Dock Restaurant is a seasonal restaurant and bar located in the Historic Hamlet of Essex, New York. Guests arrive by automobile, private boat or on the Charlotte-Essex… Slips are available for our guests who arrive by boat. Passengers on the Charlotte-Essex ferry have the option to leave their automobiles in the free parking lot at Charlotte and when they arrive in Essex stroll a few feet to the Old Dock.

Crooning to the Adirondack Sunset

In Adirondacks, Daily Munge, History & Heritage, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on June 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm

“Martin Sexton croons to the Adirondack sunset,” reads the minimalist description for this beautiful video. Another video for Martin Sexton’s Over My Head reads, “Martin Sexton sings before the sunrise over Loon Lake, Adirondack Mountains.” Somewhat dissimilar but soulful songs sung in a similar setting. I’m guessing that both videos were recorded on Loon Lake.

This is my first encounter with the music of Martin Sexton (@martin_sexton) but I find it catchy, at once playful and haunting. And there’s something about the Adirondack mornings that he captures in these videos — the sacred sunrise, the unpopulated world — that resonates deeply with me. So often I’ve photographed Rosslyn’s boathouse in these hours. And my earliest infatuation with Rosslyn was a fantasy about spending early morning wandering her rooms. My bride tends to sleep later than I, but Griffin — a Labrador Retriever with an early appetite — and I often rise at 5:00 or 6:00 am. I make him breakfast and then head outside with him to welcome the morning with a cup of tea and often a camera or a notebook. Ideas flow in the morning. With so little noise and so few distractions it’s easier to hear the singing underneath. And the morning light as the sun rises over Vermont’s Green Mountains and bathes the boathouse in orange should be classified an opiate!

I’ve hinted at an elusive Adirondack lifestyle that enchants like an Odyssean siren. Or perhaps a Champlain Valley lifestyle. Seductive mornings are a part of either. Both. And Sexton’s song and video evoke this velvety pull. What do you identify with the Adirondack lifestyle?

Related articles:

Haying with Draft Horses at Full and By Farm

In Adirondacks, Champlain Valley, Daily Munge, Historic Essex, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on June 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Another spectacular day in Essex! Perfect summer days mean great gardens, and soon enough I’ll be posting a garden update to show you how well the tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and Brussels sprouts are doing. But first I’d like to introduce you to one of the lifestyle luxuries we’re able to enjoy as Essex residents. Please meet Sara Kurak and James Graves of Full and By Farm.

We pick up our farm share every Thursday evening, and Sara emails the farm members in the morning to let us know what to expect. I’m including last week’s note in its earthy entirety below, and the video tells a little piece of the haying story described in in her note. I hope you enjoy both! Here’s the Full and By Farm note for June 17, 2011.

We are trucking right along this week—moving animals, planting crops, harvesting, weeding, cutting hay, cutting soap, building wagons, enjoying the moderately warm sunshine. This is our first year cutting our own hay and the learning and preparation curves have been steep. Given the uncertain weather predictions for the week and all of our new-to-us equipment we decided to cut one small field on Tuesday and get the process down before going for it whole hog. We took Abby and Lightning out on the horse-drawn mower, selecting the smallest field, but coincidentally the steepest and least rectangular. They took it on like champs, despite several problems with the mower, and the sneaking suspicion that lots of sharp scissors are following right at one’s heels. James is out now tedding the field, we plan to rake, bale, pick-up and unload all TODAY. Hay wagon building has largely been a late night activity. If we seem a little shell-shocked at pick-up tonight, please be nice, it’s been a long day and week.

The vegetables are perking up and getting green out in the fields. Our current harvests however are still being hampered by the earlier mud season issues of poor germination and cloudy skies, followed by the really hot week which caused the soggy, stressed out plants to bolt. All this to say that we are starting to harvest a little bit of a lot of things. Great news on the variety front, but hard to divide up 40 ways. We’re getting creative though and offering up some fun stuff at the share tonight and as well as sweet things to nibble on while picking them up.

Three important things to know today:

1) We are having our spring farm tour and member dinner two weeks from tonight, on Thursday June 30th at 6pm. We’ll provide a farm-fresh dinner and solid wagon ride. You all bring the desserts, a place setting and drinks to share. Please rsvp by email or the list in the csa room. I’ve put in the rainbow request already, but they won’t guarantee a thing this far out.

2) We are officially rolling out the Full and By Farm “Go Whole Hog” challenge tonight!!! The rules are simple: fill out a card for your household, this will live at the farm. Check off the boxes after you’ve used each of the cuts on the list**. When your card is completed you will get a hand printed “Go Whole Hog” shirt or grocery bag. **And don’t worry, we’ll help you out with some of the more challenging ones.

3) Our last spring calf was born on Monday into a muddy puddle. It was a rough entry, but his long legs helped him out. We had originally named him Gus after the legendary Texas Ranger Augustus McCrae. But after getting to know him a little the name just doesn’t seem right, mostly due to his challenge with direction (i.e. his tendency to walk the opposite way when we move the cow herd). We’re considering Gonzo and Gulliver. Bring your vote tonight, write in’s are welcome.

In the veggie share: lettuce, lettuce, lettuce, spicy lettuce mix, braising mix, stir-fry add-ins, spring onions, spinach, nettles (by popular demand) potatoes, celeriac, black and white beans. coming soon: garlic scapes, baby turnips and radishes.

In the meat share: pork, chicken and ground beef, lard and leaf lard, lavender soap.

See you all tonight between 4 and 6,
Sara

Rosslyn Roundup, June 6

In Adirondacks, Champlain Valley, Daily Munge, Lake Champlain, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on June 6, 2011 at 11:30 am
Steven Kellogg and Bill McKibben at Champlain Area Trails event in Essex, NY.

Steven Kellogg and Bill McKibben at Champlain Area Trails event in Essex, NY.

Monday morning media mashup? From Champlain Area Trails (CATS) to Old Adirondack, there are so many local news updates directly related to Rosslyn that I’ve collected the half dozen most relevant links for you. The titles are clickable links to the primary content, so once you’ve read each blurb (in most cases excerpted directly from the article/post/site) you can easily access the full story by clicking the link. Easy! In most cases the Rosslyn connection will be pretty obvious, but one or two might need some additional information. Feel free to ask me for clarification via comments on the bottom of this blog post, Twitter (@rosslynredux) or Facebook. Thanks!

Champlain Area Trails Hosts Author McKibben I spent the loveliest Saturday afternoon of 2011 at the home of acclaimed illustrator and author, Steven Kellogg. Kellogg hosted a lively and family-friendly fundraiser for Champlain Area Trails (“CATS”) at his historic Blockhouse Farm in Essex, New York. 70 degrees in a clear blue sky, a light breeze, and the sweeping grounds organically manicured sloping to an immense vista of Lake Champlain – exactly what you dream of when you think “summer day” in the Adirondacks. The postcard-perfect weather and view seemed to join us in celebrating CATS’ mission to link communities and connect people with nature. The focal point of the festivities was author and educator, Bill McKibben. (LakePlacid.com)

USGS real-time water data for Lake Champlain: 101.87 feet Despite growing superstitions about acknowledging falling water levels on Lake Champlain, I must celebrate the good news. Our majestic lake has finally fallen beneath 102 feet. The last week has been marked by a rapidly dropping water level, and despite threats of a torrential downpour later this week, my optimism is rekindled. I only hope that progress is made quickly enough for local marinas, waterside restaurants and other businesses compromised by Lake Champlain flooding to recover. (USGS)

Essex County asks for emergency reassessments It would take an act of the State Legislature to adjust the tax assessments of people with severe flood damage from recent storms… [according to] Essex County Real Property Tax Service Director Charli Lewis… The committee promptly voted unanimously to ask the State Legislature to give local assessors the power to devalue properties that were walloped by the severe storms of late April and because of continued flooding. (Press Republican)

Lake Champlain marinas assess damage As the water level slowly begins to recede on Lake Champlain, marina owners and managers are beginning to assess the damage. According to Mike Winslow, a staff scientist with the Lake Champlain Committee, at this time of year, the average lake level is 95 feet… “We average approximately one week for the lake to drop 1 foot under ideal weather conditions,” he said. “The flooding has affected marinas, restaurants and any other facilities close to the lake. There’s a severe economic toll that this flooding is causing. That effect has also drastically affected Canadian patronage due to level of the Richlieu (River) as well.” As recently as mid-week, the lake leveled hovered near 103 feet, still well above its all-time record high. (Press Republican)

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights On Friday afternoons Adirondack Almanack compiles a collection of the week’s top weblinks. Rosslyn Redux was featured this past Friday as one of ten intriguing Adirondack stories. Check them all out and get a taste of the Adirondack experience!

Willsboro Adirondack furniture maker closes Adirondack chairs may be riding a continuing wave of popularity, but one of the Adirondack Park’s most important furniture makes is closing it’s doors after a four year struggle to maintain its place in the market. Old Adirondack, located in Willsboro will lay off eleven full time employees… “The recession has done its damage and we just couldn’t last out the long hard slog any longer,” Maselli said. (North Country Public Radio)

Vintage Adirondack

In Adirondacks, Daily Munge, History & Heritage, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 24, 2011 at 11:11 am

My bride and I credit the Adirondack lifestyle for luring us away from Manhattan in 2006 to become North Country full-timers. But what exactly is the Adirondack lifestyle?

Actually it’s not so easily defined, perhaps because there are so many different perspectives on what makes living (or even vacationing) in the Adirondacks desirable. High Peaks, Great Camps, cozy little lodges, Champlain Valley, agriculture, hunting, fly fishing, ice fishing, back country adventures, extreme sports, and the list goes on. Although a portrait of our Adirondack experience will evolve out of these blog posts, I won’t attempt to define the Adirondack lifestyle. Though often attempted, any single face of of the Adirondacks is an abstraction. The real Adirondack experience is vast, rich and dynamic. It is precisely this richness and diversity which appeals to us. It is precisely this evolving character which inspires us to get involved with the people and organizations that have welcomed us.

Griffin by Lake Champlain

Image by virtualDavis via Flickr

The video above, the first in a series of three, is called Land of My Dreams and it was apparently created by Joseph J. Harley in the late 1940’s. It captures a nostalgic (if extremely dated) caricature of Adirondack rustic “camp” lifestyle during the mid 1900s.

The story takes place on Bluff Island in the Adirondacks, Saranac Lake, New York. My great grandparents had a house that Joe built himself from scratch. The DEC took the house down after a law was made that people could only camp on certified islands in the lake. Joseph J. Harley was an amateur film maker who made many other movies and won awards for them. (YouTube.com)

Douglas Yu (@tourpro) over at Adirondack Base Camp put me onto this quirky vintage short, but he wasn’t able to share much more about the film or Harley.

I couldn’t find much information about the filmographer, but at one point he was President of the American Cinema League.

Many of the artifacts that I’ve collected since purchasing Rosslyn fall into this hazy no-man’s land of vintage collectibles (postcards, magazine advertisements, newspaper articles, brochures, videos, etc.) It’s challenging or impossible to determine the background for many of the artifacts, and they occasionally include dated or peculiar elements such as the “black face” character in the the second video. And yet, taken together they provide a context for the quirky tale I have to tell. I’ve decided that this blog is the perfect way to preserve and share these artifacts, characters and stories which don’t find their way into my Rosslyn Redux memoir or the Redacting Rosslyn monologues.

By collecting these artifacts into a “digital museum” I hope to showcase some of the esoteric ingredients of the Adirondack lifestyle which seduced us, aggravates us, intrigues us, perplexes us and inspires us in this new chapter of our lives.

Meadowmount and Rosslyn

In Adirondacks, Boathouse, Champlain Valley, Daily Munge, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 17, 2011 at 8:44 am
Rosslyn Boathouse, by Steven Rochen

Rosslyn boathouse photographed from Essex ferry dock (photo credit Steven Rochen)

What a pleasure to discover on Monday morning that the newest friend of the Rosslyn Redux Facebook page was Steven Rochen. Who you might ask? (Though, if you’re a Meadowmount School of Music alum, you probably already know!) Mr. Rochen first crossed my radar back in February of this year when I happened upon an interesting photograph of Rosslyn’s boathouse. The following was originally posted in “Rosslyn Boathouse in August 2005“:

Another Rosslyn boathouse sighting, this time discovered via Google Earth. The photo was taken by czechsteve on Panoramio.com on 2005/08/12 which is approximately one year before my wife and I purchased Rosslyn. The wooden Chris Craft on a mooring between our boathouse and the Essex ferry dock belonged to our neighbor, but he has since replaced it with a sailboat which is visible in more recent photographs.

If you go click through to the original photo and enlarge it, you can see the degree of disrepair that we inherited when we took ownership and began restoring this stately old maritime structure.

I have contacted the photographer to suggest a title because the image is currently untitled.

Update: Today is Wednesday, February 2, 2011 and I’ve just heard from the photographer:

I have added a title to your boathouse picture. Thanks for your input – I have seen that boathouse for many years (I’ve been coming for summers in the Adirondacks since I was a teenage student at the Meadowmount School of Music coming from Texas to study violin.)

Was the boathouse there in 1980? I don’t remember when I first saw it from the ferry crossing but I have always enjoyed seeing it – that is why I took the photo years ago…I can’t wait to see what you have done…

All best wishes! Steven Rochen – a.k.a. czechsteve!

Wonderful response. I’m excited to have made the connection, and I’m hoping that I may one day have the chance to meet Steven Rochen and give him a tour of the boathouse which has intrigued him for decades.

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