August 4 FRIDAY — You Can’t Get There By Car!
Pine Knot Guided Tour, the first Great Camp and…….
Friday (Aug 4) Schedule:
Saturday (Aug 5) Schedule
Sunday (Aug 6) Schedule
RLN returns $12 of every admission to Camp Pine Knot. Pine Knot is not usually open to the public. This is a special arrangement made available specifically for Durant Days. A donation is also made to St. Williams. If you haven’t been to Great Camp Sagamore, plan on returning Sunday for the 10 am 1/2 price guided tour of Great Camp Sagamore, the Alfred Vanderbilt estate www.greatcampsagamore.org
Can you imagine the Adirondacks in the gilded age era when just one man owned literally hundreds of thousands of acres, including all of Raquette Lake and its entire township?
The architectural style known as “Great Camp” originated in Raquette Lake with Camp Pine Knot. The significant elements of the Great Camp style are log construction, native stonework, decorative rustic work in twigs and branches and self-sufficient, multi-building complexes often connected by covered walkways. Guests felt very honored to be invited to stay here, for Pine Knot was considered the most beautiful and outstanding camp in the Adirondack woods in its heyday, until Sagamore was built. On your guided tour you’ll view the Swiss chalet, Durant’s cottage, the library, and Japanese teahouse, among others. Pine Knot is now owned by SUNY Cortland who operates year-round outdoor education programs at what they call Camp Huntington. Pine Knot is not normally open for public tours so it is a real treat to walk the grounds and see the inside of the different buildings.
During Durant Days also enjoy a fantasy visit to the original site of the village of Durant, NY., combining 2/3 imagination and 1/3 historic structures. While building Great Camps like Pine Knot, Sagamore and Uncas, William West Durant was not only establishing summer residences for families like the Huntingtons, the Vanderbilts and the Morgans, but he was also creating towns for the workers and families who lived year round in the mountains, maintaining and running the Great Camps their employers visited only a month or two out of the year. Durant, NY was one of those towns, built by Durant on the north shore of Long Point, just a few minutes walk from his own personal estate, Pine Knot, built on the south shore. The caretaker’s commentary will help you picture in your mind’s eye the small community that existed there, including the school, the post office, the hotel Under the Hemlocks, and the boardwalk teeming with steamboats and passengers boarding and deboarding. The original store still stands, converted to housing for St. Williams guests. In 1900, when the 18 mile NY Central Railway spur from Carter Station was near completion, William Durant moved the post office from Durant on Long Point, to its present site, the terminus of the new railroad. The General Store soon followed. In 1904 Durant left the Adirondacks rarely to return and the spot on the map labeled “Durant Station & Post Office” became known as the hamlet of Raquette Lake.
Without doubt the piece de resistance, the star of this fantasy visit to the first village, is St. Williams, built in 1890 by Durant, and gifted to the families of the employees and residents who had been instrumental in constructing Durant’s Adirondack Railroad and maintaining his vast holdings. Rehabilitated with new exterior cedar shingle siding and roofing and with a stabilized foundation during the 1990’s and early 2000, all paid for with private donations, St. Williams stands as a testament to a grassroots campaign and locals’ love affair to save a priceless part of Raquette Lake history. St. Williams on Long Point was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites in 2005.
Today St. Williams is operated as a conference center by a non-profit organization available for programs, weddings, retreats and reunions with lodging and dining facilities. The church’s interior has been refurbished as well with new stenciling. Fundraising is on-going as there is always more to do as well as maintain what has been done.
Ten years before Durant built St. Williams in 1890 to help provide a center for community life in Durant, NY, he built the Episcopal Mission of the Good Shepherd in 1880. Both churches were dedicated to the people of Raquette Lake. Both churches were designed by the firm of Josiah Cleveland Cady, architect of the original Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Good Shepherd was designed in the ‘stick” style and St. William’s in the “shingle” style. Originally known as Bluff Island, St. Hubert’s was sold in 1879 for $1 to the Diocese of Albany and immediately renamed in honor of the patron saint of hunters. The location was perfect- directly across the bay from the fledgling community of Durant on Long Point.
Once a year the family who own Church of the Good Shepherd hosts a vesper service, on Sunday during Durant Days. Marvel at the 1883 Tiffany Stained Glass Windows. Sing hymns accompanied by the 1873 Estey Pump organ. The bell in the tower dates from 1880!
You will see the Main Lodge where guests still stay at Great Camp Sagamore, the Dining Hall, the Bowling Alley, the Blacksmith’s Shop, the Barn and Carriage House. You’ll marvel at the rustic luxury enjoyed by the Vanderbilt family.
The Vanderbilts, Morgans, and other Captains of Industry “vacated” the stifling heat, dirt and disease of New York City to “vacation” in their sumptuous Adirondack Camps.