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Hyde Gate For Sale or Rent

In Artifacts, History & Heritage, Lake Champlain, What's Rosslyn? on June 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm
For Sale: Hyde Gate, aka Rosslyn, in Essex, New York

For Sale: Hyde Gate (aka Rosslyn), in Essex, New York, April 1910.

Rosslyn artifacts pop up all over the place! And they’re not always Rosslyn artifacts; sometimes they’re Hyde Gate artifacts or Sherwood Inn artifacts… Honestly one of the most enjoyable aspects of owning and renovating our home is stumbling across interesting relics of its almost 200 year history.

I originally came across the advertisement above on eBay. The auction item was a full page ripped from the April 1910 edition of Country Life in America. How could I resist? One more quirky artifact for the digital library!

Turns out it wasn’t the only time that Hyde Gate (aka Rosslyn) was advertised for sale or rent in the early twentieth century. A March 1910 advertisement is available on Google Books. A handy tool for finding print book content, Google Books offers increased functionality for out-of-copyright content such as this old magazine. For free you can “clip” the image (at right) to use elsewhere, and you can even clip the text content from the page. The following is quoted from the ad:

For Sale: Hyde Gate, aka Rosslyn, in Essex, New York, March 1910

For Sale: Hyde Gate (aka Rosslyn) in Essex, New York, March 1910.

FOR SALE “HYDE GATE,” Essex, N.Y. FOR RENT

The country residence of Caleb James Coatsworth Esq. is just at the outskirts of Essex Village on Lake Champlain, New York. The house faces the lake, and the grounds run right down to the lake with bath houses and a large private dock. The house is between eighty five and a hundred years old. Is built of brick. It is very beautifully furnished with the real antique Colonial furniture and although lighted throughout with electricity there is not on modem electrical fixture on the first floor.

In the hall there is an old lantern, and in all the rooms old candelabra hanging from the ceilings; there are also lamps on the centre table lighted by electricity. The house is a beautiful example of the Colonial period. It contains ten bed rooms and two bath rooms on the second floor, and three bed rooms on the third floor, also two lavatories on first floor. One can leave “Hyde Gate” in an automobile after breakfast and lunch at Lake Placid, or leave “Hyde Gate” in the morning and dine at Bretton Woods in the White Mountains, or dine at Montreal, Canada. Lake Placid is fifty miles from “Hyde Gate” by road; Bretton Woods one hundred and eighteen miles; and the Windsor Hotel, Montreal, Canada is just one hundred miles; all the roads are very good. It Is a great central starting point for automobiling. The owner of “Hyde Gate” has made all of these trips. You can leave the dock at “Hyde Gate” in a launch and go to Westport, NY, or Vergennes, Vermont (the oldest city in Vermont) through the beautiful Otter Creek or Burlington, Vermont in less than an hour, or “Bluff Point” in two hours where the Lake Champlain Hotel is located, which is considered the best hotel In the Adirondacks.

The grounds contain between five and six acres, beautifully laid out, and there is a great abundance of flowers, a large kitchen garden, and quite a number of fruit trees and currant bushes, etc.

A stable with room for five horses, carriage room for five or six carriages, large harness room with glass case for harness, and good comfortable quarters for coachman. There is a large carriage shed outside of table where extra carriages can be stored, also suitable for two automobiles, several chicken houses, and a pigeon house. There is a large new ice house with a cold storage house built in connection with it.

“Hyde Gate” is just half way on Lake Champlain, and one can make the trip to New York in a motor boat in two days running spending the night at Albany, or you can run to Montreal with a motor boat in two days.

Enquire CALEB JAMES COATSWORTH 110 South Penn Ave Atlantic City NJ (via Country Life in America, March 1910, P. 495)

A couple of years later a similar advertisement ran in the April 1912 issue of Country Life in America. And it would seem that Caleb James Coatsworth was learning a thing or two about advertising with each return to ink. The text length and detail is generally the same throughout, but a bit of brevity slips into the equation, and the photographs improve significantly. Perhaps there are later advertisements that I’ve missed?

Let’s take a look at the copy for Coatsworth’s 1912 Hyde Gate advertisement:

For Sale: Hyde Gate, aka Rosslyn, in Essex, New York, March 1912.

For Sale: Hyde Gate (aka Rosslyn) in Essex, New York, March 1912.

For Sale HYDE GATE ESSEX NY For Rent

“Hyde Gate” is just at the outskirts of Essex Village on Lake Champlain, N.Y. It is the country residence of Caleb James Coatsworth. The house faces the lake, and the ground runs down to the lake. There are bath houses and a large private dock. The house is between 85 and 100 years old. It is a beautiful example of the Colonial period; made of brick. It is very beautifully furnished with antique colonial furniture. It contains ten bed rooms and two bath rooms on the second floor and three bed rooms on the third floor. Also two laboratories on the first floor.

The grounds contain between 5 and 6 acres beautifully laid out. There is a great abundance of flowers. A large kitchen garden and a number of fruit trees and currant bushes, etc. A stable with room for five horses, accommodations for 5 or 6 carriages, large harness room and good comfortable quarters for coachman. Another carriage shed affords accommodations for extra carriages and two automobiles. There are other outhouses. Further particulars from

CALEB JAMES COATSWORTH

Hyde Gate Eases NY (via Country Life in America, April 1912, P. 3)

Two laboratories on the first floor? Fantastic! It’s handy having multiple versions of this ad to sort out the unlikely presence of a pair of labs in a summer residence… Two lavatories, now that makes a little bit more sense. Imagine the ten year old son who’s spent all spring looking forward to summer vacation on Lake Champlain. His father has promised that their summer rental includes two laboratories. Oh, the experiments that have occupied the boy’s daydreams in the final stretch of the school year. A homemade volcano, frog dissection,… the options are endless. And then to arrive after an exhausting journey along bumpy roads in the days long before air conditioning. And the lad races inside to search for the laboratories, to find the answer to his fantasies only to discover that it was an error. Two lavatories? What sort of evil joke is that?

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Rosslyn Boathouse Free from Toppling Ash

In Boathouse, Daily Munge, Lake Champlain on June 27, 2011 at 2:11 pm
Ash tree undermined by Lake Champlain flood

Ash tree undermined by Lake Champlain flood

Remember the Lake Champlain flood? The good news is that flooding is abating. Rapidly. In fact the water’s “fallen” to normal spring flood stage… Which means that we’re finally catching up on the damaged waterfront, repairing the boathouse, installing docks and boat hoist, etc. You may remember that large ash tree was undermined by the flood and was beginning to topple down over top of the boathouse. Not good. You may also remember that local arborist Mark Sauslgiver decided to install a tension line from high in the tree to the guardrail north of the boathouse. The idea was that in the event the trees roots gave way and the tree toppled, the line would pull the falling tree northward, sparing the boat house.

I liked the idea. Sounded good. Looked good when I drew a little diagram on paper. But, I’d be lying if I claimed that I was 100% confident it would work. That’s a big tree, and I had a difficult time imagining a static line enduring a fall much less staying taught and pulling thousands of pounds of gravity-fueled ash anywhere other than straight down. On top of the boathouse, the pier, and the railings. But, turns out Mark knew his tension lines.

Today his crew removed the tree, piece by piece, sending massive chunks of wood down a “zip line” to the curb or New York State Route 22 where they could be cut up and/or chipped. The entire affair was a success!

I’m deeply saddened to lose a mature, healthy tree that offered much appreciated shade in the heat of summer and served as a charming frame for images of the boathouse. But I am overjoyed that the tree was removed before gravity won. And I’ve been assured that sooner or later it would.

I’ll add a short video soon!

Ed Pais visits Rosslyn Boathouse

In Boathouse, Daily Munge, Renovation & Rehabilitation, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story? on June 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Edward Pais was a classmate of mine at Deerfield Academy from 1986 to 1990, and he now practices architecture in Burlington, Vermont. Despite being out of touch for more than two decades we recently reconnected via Facebook. Ed joined the Rosslyn Redux Facebook page and he’s offered ongoing feedback about our boathouse during the Lake Champlain flooding. Recently he offered to come over and take a look. Needless to say, I eagerly accepted his offer.

We started out with a delicious lunch at Essex Provisions overlooking the still flooded marinas, then headed back to Rosslyn to take a look at the boathouse. Ed’s reaction was encouraging, and despite pushing him into engineering territory a couple of times, I mostly listened and took mental notes. He reminded me that he’s an architect and not an engineer, but repeatedly expressed his confidence in the work of Engineering Ventures in Burlington. Paul Hobbs who handled most of the structural engineering for the boathouse renovation repeatedly impressed with his keen mind, so Ed’s confidence was not misplaced. That said, I do intend to follow up with Hobbs and/or Jeffords Steel to ascertain whether or not the beams which support the suspended pier were fabricated out of COR-TEN or a similar weather resistant steel.

Ed’s recommendation to quickly and aggressively treat the mold situation was highlighted in a follow-up message after his visit. He suggested that we should remove the baseboards to inspect for mold. He linked me to helpful information “Cleaning Mold on Wood” that confirms that we’ve been remediating the post-flood mold situation appropriately.

The molds seen on lumber are largely a collection of fungal spores on the surface of the wood. Wet wiping and scrubbing the lumber will remove the mold. But simply wiping the wood can release spores into the surrounding air. A better approach is to gently spray or wet down the mold prior to removal.

There are a number of products on the market, ranging from common bleach to commercial mildewcides, which are promoted for cleaning mold from wood. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests using a mild detergent and water for most mold clean up. The EPA recommends wet vacuuming the area, wiping or scrubbing the mold with detergent and water and, after drying, vacuuming with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum.

Common bleach and water can be used for cleaning mold. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using a solution of 10 parts water to one part bleach to clean mold from surfaces. (Western Wood Products Association)

Huge thanks, Ed, for taking the time to coach me through the latest challenge! I really appreciate it.

After De’s departure my parents joined us for dinner. They’ve just returned to the Adirondacks from Chicago for the summer, so grilling and dining al fresco seemed like the perfect way to launch their summer. While showing my mother the recovering boathouse, I asked if she remembered Ed Pais from Deerfield. She did! She recounted a story that I’d never known. My brother, two years younger than I, had come to Deerfield for his admissions interview. Although he already knew his way around because he had visited me frequently, he decided to take the admissions office campus tour anyway. His tour guide was Ed Pais! When we got back to the house I asked my father if he remembered Ed Pais, and he immediately told me the same story! Ed, must have made quite an impression…

Re-roofing and Flood Proofing

In Boathouse, Daily Munge, Lake Champlain, Renovation & Rehabilitation, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Rosslyn boathouse when re-roofing was 50% complete in the summer of 2010

Rosslyn boathouse when re-roofing was 50% complete in the summer of 2010

Last summer (June-July 2010) our biggest concern with Rosslyn’s boathouse was restoring the roof. It’s hard to imagine that a year later our biggest concern is saving the building, pier and waterfront from finally-receding-but-increasingly-rough Lake Champlain flood waters! What better way to distract our anxieties than to look back on drier times?

The cedar shingle was suffering from many years of neglect. Covered with moss and rotted completely through in many areas, it was possible to watch clouds passing overhead (and fireworks) by standing in the second story and looking through the rot spots in the roof! Friend and former neighbor Michael Leslie headed up the project of stripping the expired shingles, rebuilding the rotted beams, sub-roof and related trim including the window overlooking the lake. The following comes from a blog post last July as we rounded the halfway mark.

The hardest part of re-shingling Rosslyn dock house is now behind us. Special thanks to Michael Leslie, Jerry Spooner and Jim Spooner for their progress so far.

In a bizarre twist, David Hislop asked me yesterday, “What’s the story with the dock house?” Hmmm… The story? Well, that’s what I’m writing: Rosslyn Redux. Coming soon to a digital download near you. 😉 Turns out he was referring to the roof. “People are asking why you’re re-roofing it AGAIN.” Again? Apparently a half dozen people have asked him this question. Easy answer. We’re not. It hasn’t been re-shingled since the early/mid 1980’s, but after a quarter century of rain, snow, ice, sun and wind, many of the shingles have rotted through and the roof is leaking, especially the southern exposure. We’d known that we would eventually have to strip the old shingles, but we had delayed as long as practical. Let’s hope the new roof lasts as long as the old one!

Although the re-roofing project took considerably longer than anticipated (this formula has become the rule rather than the exception during the process of renovating Rosslyn), it was worth every second when the beautiful work was complete. And doubly so last winter when snowstorms battered the little structure and again this spring when rain lashed at the roof. For the first time since buying this property in the summer of 2006 my bride and I could stop worrying about the boathouse that seduced us half a decade ago! The foundation had been restored. The structure had been restored. And now the roof had been restored. Life was good…

Perhaps we were too pleased? Perhaps hubris slipped into our homeowner psyche’s? Perhaps. Or perhaps nature’s far more powerful and far more fickle and unpredictable than we can possibly imagine. I’ve commented elsewhere that nature is a formidable foe and a loyal friend. I genuinely believe this, and yet this spring has reminded me that a boathouse built on a pier in the waters of a lake is not natural. It is a valuable architectural artifact. It is an indulgence. But it is not natural. And despite my resolve to balance my lifestyle with healthy stewardship of the natural environment, I never before stopped to contemplate how unnatural this structure really is. Although I’d likely discourage construction of a new albeit similar structure in fragile habitat like Lake Champlain, I never once stopped to consider Rosslyn’s beautiful boathouse a violation of nature because it already existed. It’s part of the architectural heritage of Essex, NY. In fact, we felt a responsibility to restore the boathouse. Indeed I still do, despite my newfound recognition that it contradicts my conventional bias.

Life is complex, and contradictions are everywhere. I don’t pretend to know all the right answers, nor even very many of them. But I’m beginning to suspect that the silver lining of Lake Champlain’s destructive flooding this spring is that I’ve been forced me to recognize and grapple with the contradiction in preserving Rosslyn’s boathouse despite the potentially adverse environmental impact. It has reminded me that conviction is handy but not infallible, that conviction must be balanced with questioning and humility.

So, I’m finally flood proofing my optimism! I’m still soggy and still anxious about the waves rolling through the interior of the boathouse and crashing against the rapidly eroding bank supporting Route 22, but I’m beginning to see that the glass is half full after all. And Lake Champlain? It’s still overfull!

Imagining Rosslyn Boathouse, Spring 2006

In Boathouse, House, Lake Champlain, Memoir, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 12, 2011 at 10:44 am
Rosslyn Boathouse at Sunrise

Rosslyn Boathouse at Sunrise

“Coffee? You don’t even drink coffee,” Susan said.

“I know. I know it doesn’t make any sense. But I’m walking through Rosslyn early in the morning with a steaming cup of coffee…”

I hadn’t drunk coffee since college, and I’d obviously never wandered around Rosslyn at the crack of dawn either. But I kept having this vision.

“It’s just barely sunrise. You’re still sleeping. I’m up, drifting from room-to-room, slowly, haltingly, studying the way the sunlight illuminates each room. And those green walls in the parlor? They vibrate in the morning light, like new maple leaves in the springtime.”

I described the shaft of sunlight stretching across the workshop floor. I described the calm, the quiet except for an occasional creaky floorboard. I described Tasha, our Labrador Retriever, padding along with me, anxious for breakfast.

“Tasha sighs and lies down each time I stop. And I stop a lot… to watch the morning unfolding, to watch the sunlight shimmering on the rippled lake, to watch the boathouse clapboards glowing yellow orange for a few minutes as the sun rises above the Green Mountains.”

“I was imagining the boathouse too,” Susan said. “Not like today, but like it was ours, like we lived at Rosslyn. I was thinking, the boathouse’s just begging for a hammock. Don’t you think? A big, two-person hammock in the open-air part, under the roof. Can you imagine lying in a hammock in the evening, listening to the waves?” Susan paused, lost in the idea. “And think of the dinner parties,” she continued. “A table set for four. White linens and candles and sheer curtains billowing in the breeze…”

Boathouse in Early 1990s

In Boathouse, Daily Munge, Lake Champlain, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm
Rosslyn Boathouse, by Bill Amadon

Rosslyn Boathouse, by Bill Amadon

I’ve just concluded a Champlain Area Trails (CATS) board meeting on a high note. Or, to be more precise, a fellow board member finished the meeting on a high note by handing me this handsome painting of our boathouse during drier times.

Bill Amadon, master gardener, trail builder and painter, has created several other romantic images that adorn Rosslyn’s walls, but the timing for this image couldn’t have better. After a difficult week of record-breaking Lake Champlain water levels flooding Rosslyn’s boathouse, Amadon’s painting reminds us of the structures past and future. Soggy today, this weather-worn icon will endure long into the future.

Today I noticed Amadon photographing the flooded boathouse before our meeting. I wonder if he’ll memorialize the flood with another beautiful painting. And if so, hopefully we’ll be able to look back on the history making floods of 2011 with nostalgia. But for now, we’re still struggling to get through the high water risks. This morning my bride and Doug Decker, the carpenter-turned-jack-of-all-trades-handyman who caretakes Rosslyn removed about 2,000 pounds of waterlogged driftwood, tree trunks and miscellaneous debris floating from our waterfront.

As we pack our bags for four days in the Utah desert, our feelings have been mixed. On the one hand, we welcome the escape from rain and flooding. On the other, we depart with heavy hearts, anxious with the knowledge that we won’t be here to intervene if the wind picks up and the waves begin to batter the submerged boathouse and shoreline. A 40-50 food tree with a trunk almost 18″ thick lurks just south of the boathouse, too heavy and too entangled in shoreline brush to be removed. Heavy winds out of the south could dislodge the tree and heave it repeatedly against the boathouse. The damage would be grave. Or a heavy wind out of the east could further erode the banks that are already badly undermined and failing. Large trees are at risk of collapsing into the lake, and the pavement of Route 22 which runs above the bank is already cracking as the lakeside begins to collapse.

These are the worries. These are the anxieties. And yet we are leaving. Our trip had been scheduled long before the floods, and we’re unable to change or cancel them. And so we throw ourselves upon the mercy of nature and our friends to preserve our property. Doug will spend the days until we return on Monday evening working upstairs in the boathouse, finishing trim woodwork and oiling the fir beadboard. He’ll be able to keep a close watch on the wind and waves and debris. If circumstances threaten, he will attempt to remedy the problem by redirecting or removing logs. Or by resecuring materials that are loosened by the waves. If conditions worsen further, several friends have offered to come and help out. In short, our friends and neighbors are lending a hand. So we can depart tomorrow morning confident that those who care about us, those who care about the boathouse and property will intervene if needed.

Amadon’s painting provided just the confidence boost I needed to board the plane, a memory rekindled for what the boathouse looked like in the past and what it will hopefully look like again this summer. Thanks to all who’ve helped us through this experience!

Soggy Soil Delays Planting

In Champlain Valley, Daily Munge, Gardens, Lake Champlain, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on April 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm
Doug Decker tilling the vegetable garden

Doug Decker tilling the vegetable garden

With some Champlain Valley residents being evacuated by boat and the Wesport Marina totally flooded, we’re feeling fortunate that a submerged boathouse and waterfront is the extent of our flooding problems.

Although we have our work cut our for us when Lake Champlain water levels drop, another short-term challenge is the super saturated soil. Tilling the vegetable garden has been out of the question, planting more grape vines, fruit trees and shrubs likewise has been suspended lest we drown the roots. Last year, I planted spinach and radishes in the garden in mid-March, and my bride and I had been gorging on succulent baby spinach for weeks by this point. Not so this year. Some onions and leeks wintered over, but nothing new has been planted in the vegetable garden yet.

The 7.88 inches of rain that fell in April in Burlington is of course a record, and is a full five inches more that what normally falls in the month… The soil is saturated and completely unworkable for farmers, gardeners, vegetable growers and others… To let farmers catch up, we really need at least a couple weeks of warm, dry, sunny weather… (Burlington Free Press)

I received a call from Mr. Murphy, the gentleman who — with his son and sometimes his grandson — has done an unbelievable job of maintaining our lawns for the last two years. He wanted to know when to start mowing lawns for the season. He agreed that the ground was far too saturated and suggested we wait a couple of weeks. I agreed.

Frankly, I’ve agreed with almost every decision Mr. Murphy has made over the last two years. He’s a lawn master. And a weather master. He keeps track of the forecast and works around it, advancing or pushing back our lawn mowing each week per the rain forecast. And so far we’ve never once had an unmowed lawn for the weekend! And he’s nice as can be, always smiling, always ready to let me in on an amusing story or anecdote. He’s famous in these parts for his tomato plants. He raises many hundreds of plants and then sells them to friends and neighbors, donating the profits to the local animal shelter.

In short, I’m a big fan of Mr. Murphy, and when he told me that his greenhouse was flooded, I was sympathetic as only a sunken boathouse owner could be. Water, water everywhere! We’re all ready for a drought…

Blooming hyacinth perfume the air

Hyacinth perfume the air outside our breakfast room

Actually, today I took matters into my own hands. Despite the notion that a couple of dry weeks would be needed to till and plant, I jumped the gun. Rising lake water had gotten its talons into my spirit, so I decided to ignore the flood and enjoy the first balmy spring day in a while gardening, pruning, landscaping. And you know what? It worked! I only wish I’d tried this approach a few days ago. Maybe Lake Champlain wouldn’t have risen so high.

Doug and I spent part of the morning changing over the tractor from snow plow to backhoe, and then proceeded to rip out a lumber retaining wall at the southeast corner of the old clay tennis court. I suspected that the area contained objectionable refuse (a battery and part of a garden hose had floated to the surface) and the wall had been built altogether too close to the carriage barn resulting in sill and framing rot. I’ll tell the story of what we discovered in another post.

Then we tilled the garden under for the second time, adding plenty of sphagnum moss to help lighten the soil. We were premature. The tines clogged repeatedly, but we made it through which will help the soil dry out. Tomorrow I’m hoping to make another pass and possibly — I dare not pronounce my wish lest I tempt the rain fates — just possibly I’ll be able to plant some spinach and kale. I’d hoped to have the vegetable garden so much further along by now because of some ambitious plans. We’re relocating the asparagus patch from south of the carriage barn to back by the vegetable garden. The strawberry beds will also be moved. And the rhubarb. And blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are arriving in a couple of weeks to be planted. None of these beds have been prepared yet.

But today marked the first major step forward in preparing the vegetable and fruit gardens. And tomorrow, weather permitting, I intend to continue full steam ahead! Fingers crossed…

Boathouse Needs a Snorkel

In Boathouse, Champlain Valley, Daily Munge, Lake Champlain, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on April 28, 2011 at 7:23 am
USGS Lake Champlain Water Level, April 28, 2011

USGS Lake Champlain Water Level, April 28, 2011

According to this USGS data for Lake Champlain we’re making history. To be more precise, Lake Champlain’s water levels are making history. That red line at the top of the graph is the historic high water mark set during spring flooding on April 27, 1993. And, as you can see, the blue “actual” recordings have already flickered above the red line a couple of times, though — as I understand it — these figures are not official. Yet. Not sure why. Nor when we’ll know the official water level, but I can assure you that Rosslyn boathouse is now swamped. And the lake is virtually windless and flat… Imagine what this afternoon will look like if/when the wind climbs into the high teens as forecast!

Fortunately there’s less debris floating around the boathouse today. I’m worried that heavy wave action combined with a large floating log or two acting as a battering ram against the boathouse superstructure could be devastating. We’ve witnessed the damage already when the water level was 18″ lower. I’ll head down when the rain abates to take some more images of the drowning boathouse to share with you. Until then, please send dry, windless vibes Essex-way. Thanks!

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