Advance Planning is essential, as one would do for an exclusive annual summer camp – one of the very few Adirondack Great Camps which remain in private hands is available for exclusive rental. The grandest of Great Camps is a Rare Gem! Lake House is a legendary Great Camp in the Adirondack wilderness with its own private 500-acre lake. Once a playground for American aristocrats, Lake House provides an authentic guest experience specific to a moment in time.
This captivating, private and historical estate has an amazing hospitality team for first class service, divine dining, and an array of activities on land and water, all just for you and your nearest and dearest! Located Upstate New York in Hamilton County, nestled in the Adirondacks in the Historic Great Camp District. Former neighbors were Great Camp Sagamore (Vanderbilt family) and Great Camp Uncas (J.P. Morgan). I’ve stayed at a hotel property that was once a Great Camp and the lifestyle is laid back, relaxing and each day is different based on your craving for exercise, water sports, hiking or just plain lounging about and catching up on your reading.
Escape and stay where the world can’t find you.
Around the turn of the last century, families whose last names were at the forefront of our collective consciousness, signifying power, taste, and vast fortunes – Rockefellers, Astor’s, Morgan’s and Vanderbilt’s among them — built mountaintop, lakeside “camps” in Upstate New York to escape summertime heat and urban life. These Gilded Age captains of industry ventured north in grand style; private railway cars, bringing family, friends, business associates and staff along for “the season”.
The early Great Camps started life as simple tent camps, often on land initially leased from hotel owners, as hotel guests sought a more authentic wilderness experience. The tent camps evolved into tent platforms or lean-tos and then into compounds of rustic cabins. Even in the early stages, some of these camps became quite elaborate. In 1883 one of the first families on Upper St. Regis Lake, the Anson Phelps Stokes, would arrive in a “special parlor horse car direct from 42nd street to Ausable for $100.” The party consisted of ten family members and an equal number of servants, “three horses, two dogs, one carriage, five large boxes of tents, three cases of wine, two packages of stovepipe, two stoves, one bale of china, one iron pot, four washstands, one barrel of hardware, four bundles of poles, seventeen cots and seventeen mattresses, four canvas packages, one buckboard, […], twenty-five trunks, thirteen small boxes, one boat, one hamper”, all of which was then transferred to wagons for the 36 mile ride to Paul Smiths, and thence by boat to their island campsite.
Eventually, civilization and refined amenities were brought to the woodlands. Rest assured these were no mere tents in the woods. In a sense, they were like their Newport marble palaces referred to as “cottages.” The stately compounds of resplendent mansions made of timber and stone housed several dozen fortunate guests at once. Set in the remote, lake-studded woodlands of the Blue Lake Mountains, they cherished mother nature in its purest form and “roughed it” in the rustic epitome of life’s creature comforts. There are 20 bedrooms and 18 bathrooms, with comfortable capacity for 35 guests. The estate is available only by exclusive reservation & is inclusive of all meals and non-alcoholic beverages from July 1st thru October 31st.
By most accounts, this exceptional Lake House, was the “grandest” of Great Camps. A sprawling, timbered compound on a secluded lake comprised of 1,000 pristine acres purchased by Teddy Roosevelt’s Lieutenant Governor, Timothy Woodruff. Tales of Woodruff’s ownership are of legendary hedonism in the woods; the greatest of luxuries and most unexpected amusements: gondolas imported from Venice plying the lake, semi-tamed bears resided near the cabins, telephone service as early as 1903. Subsequent owners (neighboring Vanderbilt’s among them) indulged certain eccentricities – at one time, tame deer visited daily for freshly made blueberry pancakes. For years, the competing baseball teams of Yale and Harvard were brought here for pre-season games for the amusement and cheering on by the owners and their guests.
There are 16 authentic, historic guest accommodations encompassed among 6 lakeside lodges. Private, quiet and comfortable, many original furnishings and fixtures were carved by on-site craftsmen over a century ago. Majestic stone wood-burning (26) fireplaces, spacious wood-walled bathrooms with vintage soaking tubs, soft fluffy robes and bed linens along with cozy seating and dining areas invoke a true residential feel. Access to the great outdoors is a desirable amenity…a chance to breathe in clean mountain air and listen to the silence of this majestic setting. Even today, a sense of uncommon gaiety permeates; many elements are unchanged since the property’s early days. Most original buildings remain, and many have been re-purposed with care over the past 125 years. Majestic logs and stone were sourced on site, even the ironwork hewed in the workshop still stands. The 20 ft. dining table, mounted hunting trophies, a billiards table, heritage bowling lanes are original to Kamp Kill Kare.
Using native Adirondack timber, stripped twigs and round stones pulled from rushing rivers, they created pastoral estates of astounding beauty and charm, places where nature could be encountered in its ideal form. These Great Camps embodied the romantic 19th-and early 20th-century notion of “roughing it” in the highest of level luxury – a dream that continues to this day to harken the sophisticated and adventurous to the Adirondacks. Some Great Camps were lavish, others less so – but none is expressed better, and more authentically as a remote Adirondack retreat, than Lake House. Some minor modifications thru the years for the sake of guest comfort have been accomplished. Telephones in each accommodation, Wi-Fi throughout, spa facilities in the Old Ice House indulged by current guests were not an option back then. Overall, however, the integrity retains true in its appearance, spirit and original purpose to an extraordinary degree not readily found in today’s world. It’s both a history lesson and a tribute to a bygone, enchanting era.
Lake House is but a few of the Great Camps which remain in private hands and open to the public. Until 2015, it was accessible to only its owners and thankful friends fortunate enough to receive an invitation. Its present owner since 2005 (only its fourth) made a conscientious decision to open this captivating, private and historical estate to a limited number of exclusive bookings during the peak summer and early fall months. You can be among the lucky few to hie away on the lake, safe and secure in a gorgeous wilderness.
Rental Season: The rental season at Lake House is July 1 to October 31 and the rate is based on 24 guests. There is a supplemental charge for island cabin. The property is for exclusive use only and on occasion, stays of less than one week are possible.
PROPERTY DETAILS: Tree House, sleeps 4. Seating area, kitchenette-dining table for 4. Master bedroom-king bed-fireplace-bathroom. Upstairs bedroom-queen bed-fireplace-bathroom
Grand and whimsical, the Tree House has always been the most unique residence on property. According to lore, it was the favored residence of all the owners’ and appears to remain so as well for today’s guests. The two-story, two-bedroom free standing cottage sits just steps from the Main Lodge. A spacious master king bedroom features an extraordinary headboard crafted from a tree with its limbs forming a canopy. A massive corner stone fireplace fills the room with warmth and light. Room-fireplace-kitchenette-1/2 bath. Upstairs master bedroom-king bed-fireplace-bathroom
Black and Red Boathouses. Each Boathouse has a main level master bedroom with a king bed and bathroom and an upstairs bedroom with twin beds and a bathroom. Each has a living room, kitchenette, three fireplaces and an expansive deck – each sleeps 4 (1,000 sq. ft. each).
Original to Adirondack Great Camps and referenced to the Algonquin style, two Wiki-ups are located along the lake in front of the Main Lodge. Nightly camp fires with s’mores are a popular late night pastime.
Gardener’s Cottage is open, airy and filled with natural light, this charming one-bedroom free standing cottage, once a greenhouse, enjoys stunning lake views through its double-height windows. With its own setting, its dramatic stone exterior, and warm interiors, it is the most private accommodation other than the Island Cabin. A glass enclosed dining table for 8 persons faces the water. A welcoming living room with fireplace and full kitchen with small bathroom are on the main level.
An open loft style king bedroom with wood-burning stove and full bath is reached by winding staircase. Your stone patio with chairs and its own dock provides lakeside options. This enchanting residence ensures you of a peaceful and quiet rest at the water’s edge.Black House, Sleeps 4. Living Room-kitchenette-fireplace-expansive deck. Master bedroom-king bed-fireplace-bathroom. Upstairs bedroom-twin beds-fireplace-bathroom
Two additional Cottages. Cottage One, Sleeps 4. Living Room–Dining Room-fireplace-kitchen. Upstairs bedroom-queen bed-shared bathroom. Upstairs bedroom-twin beds-shared bathroom. Additional bathroom on main level.
Cottage Two, Sleeps 4. Living Room-fireplace-Dining Room-kitchen. Upstairs bedroom-queen bed-shared bathroom. Upstairs bedroom-twin beds-shared bathroom. Additional bathroom on main level
Library – Located adjacent to BoathousesSleeps 2. Master bedroom-king bed-fireplace-bathroom. Kitchenette-outdoor private balcony.
The Main Lodge consists of large living room with huge fireplace, comfortable seating, and billiards table. Small cozy lounge with fireplace. Dining room with table for 22 plus alcove dining which seats an additional 6 people. Bedrooms: Indian – Sleeps 2 – Main level bedroom-twin beds-fireplace-bathroom. Fort – Sleeps 2 – Main level bedroom-twin beds-fireplace-bathroom. Gables – Sleeps 2 – Upstairs bedroom-king bed-fireplace-bathroom. Alcove – Sleeps 2 – Upstairs bedroom-twin beds-fireplace-bathroom. Porch – Sleeps 2 – Upstairs bedroom-twin beds-a wall of screened windows to bring the outdoors inside Bathroom shared with Gables bedroom. Bachelor’s – Sleeps 1 – Upstairs bedroom with 1 twin bed Bathroom shared with Alcove bedroom
The Island Cabin, Sleeps 4 with Living Room-dining area-fireplace-kitchen-front porch. Upstairs master bedroom-king bed-fireplace-bathroom. Upstairs bedroom-twin beds.
We can provide a full listing of amenities and household services and a rate quote, but don’t tarry.
Lake Life – Three pristine lakes are at their most magical in early morning as the mist rises. A canoe quietly gliding thru still waters, smooth as glass, with sounds of your paddle, wind in the trees, flapping birds’ wings, a call of the nesting loons…a rare feeling of solitude and silence. The estate is traversed by miles of well-maintained walking paths; one encircles the lake, while the other leads to Green Top, the highest point on property. The springy moss under foot lends a literal bounce to your step. Should you need a rest, relax in one of the Adirondack chairs strategically placed along the paths for panoramic lake views. You may also choose to embrace the paths by mountain bike for a bit more exercise.
Drinks Hour Prior to dinner each evening, typically from 7 to 8 pm daily (or a time per the guest’s preference), is ‘Drinks Hour’’. The cocktail hour offers a complimentary evening signature cocktail. Guests can also order other alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, spirits or Champagne. An array of local cheeses, vegetables and dry snacks is served. This reception can be held in The Pub, The Casino, dockside, or on the front porch of The Playhouse. During this hour-long reception, all alcoholic beverages are complimentary
After Dinner Typically guests enjoy taking in the evening’s chill at a campfire with old-fashioned s’mores down at the Wiki-ups at the water’s edge under a starlit sky. After dinner drinks, ice-cream or other late night snacks can also be arranged. The Pub is another favorite spot for night caps.
Fly fishing – The Adirondacks are beloved by fly fishermen for its countless spectacular streams and rivers. Wild, remote waterways around Lake House are known as the best: rare, pristine, protected eco-systems chock full of small mouth bass and native brook trout. Back at the turn of the last century and thru the 1950’s, Great Adirondack Guides like Alvah Dunning, Seth Pierce, & Pete Tromblee were based at the Raquette Lake region since fishing nearby was legendary.
Today, Lake House’s expert, companionable guide has a deep understanding of where, when and what the fish are biting. Hike to a beaver meadow, fish the riffles and runs with a dry fly, paddle across the lake to cast a line in the tributaries. Victory is invariably wet, but sweet. Hold your beauties in hand before releasing them back into the water. Over dinner, you’ll have your story to tell and hopefully an Instagram moment to prove it.
Tennis, basketball, and roller hockey bring out one’s competitive edge or perhaps a leisurely read is a better low-key pastime. The estate boasts a softball field where decades ago, Yale and Harvard baseball teams faced off for the amusement of house guests.
Throughout the day, the lakes remain the central gathering place for activities. An array of water-sports equipment – antique canoes, kayaks available. Fishing equipment (including starter rods for young guests) insures full enjoyment for all ages.
Good things don’t last forever!
In Arabic, the expression “Summer Cloud” is usually used to mean that “this is not going to last for a long time” or “it won’t last as long as you think it will”.