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Country Weddings: The Barn at Lord Howe Valley

By Mirror Staff

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A wedding hall has opened in one of the most historic landscapes in the Lake George region, and appropriately enough for a site that’s been farmland and pasture for hundreds of years, it’s a timber frame barn.

Called “The Barn at Lord Howe Valley,” it’s nestled between the eastern-most slopes of the Adirondacks and Lake George, on the road between Ticonderoga and Hague.

Not only was the land part of a farm owned by some of the region’s first settlers, it’s not far from the place where Lord George Howe was killed early in Britain’s 1758 assault on France’s Fort Carillon, the bloodiest battle on North American soil before Gettysburg.

It’s also near the site of Major Robert Rogers’ Battle on Snowshoes, from which he escaped – or so his enemies believed – by rappelling down the rock slide that now bears his name.

Sarah Latchford, the founder and owner of The Barn at Lord Howe Valley, is happy to help usher into the valley more peaceful, indeed, more joyful pursuits.

“Wedding planning has been a passion of mine for years, and we wanted to give couples – local residents as well as visitors – a new alternative if they wanted to be married in the beautiful Adirondacks,” said Latchford, who grew up in Chestertown and who now lives in Saratoga with her husband Tim.

Latchford and her family bought the land last year after searching throughout the region for land on which to build a wedding hall and event space that would fit naturally into a rural or wild landscape.

Coming from a family that’s been active in the business community for years, she also wanted “to bring extra business to the area not only in the summer but in the spring and fall as well, to hotels, restaurants and shops, among other businesses,” she said.

Latchford will bring new business to wedding and event-related entrepreneurs such as caterers, florists, dress designers and bands as The Barn at Lord Howe Valley develops.

“Caterers are responsible for almost everything we offer,” said Latchford. “All we do is rent the space and help our clients make it their own for the day.”

She’s already contributed to the local economy by utilizing local builders, craftsmen and contractors.

The barn was built by Blue Line Barns, a timber frame construction company owned by Sam Caldwell of Bolton Landing.

“After seeing an ad for Blue Line Barns in a local paper, we met with Sam a couple of times and really came to appreciate his post- and-beam designs,” said Latchford. “We also liked the fact that he was a local builder with a great knowledge of this kind of construction and of the area and its history as well.”

The farm tables were custom-made by another Bolton Landing company, Shack Valley, owned by woodworker David E. Cummings.

The construction of the barn began in July and was completed in time for the new space’s first wedding in late summer.

For more information about The Barn at Lord Howe Valley, visit its facebook site or contact Sarah Latchford at (518) 321-4898.

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Rendering of renovated hospital

Rendering of renovated hospital

Ti Hospital Officials Ready to Start Renovation

By Anthony F. Hall

Friday, November 25, 2016

The $9.1 million renovation of Ticonderoga’s Moses Ludington Hospital is scheduled to start in February, 2017.

The renovation, which will replace the existing inpatient hospital with new emergency and outpatient departments, is expected to take two years, said Jane Hooper, the hospital’s director of community relations.

According to Matt Nolan, the Chief Operating Officer, construction will take place in phases in order to prevent any disruption in services.

“It’s incredibly important that healthcare organizations are able to provide patient care, even while in the midst of a significant renovation,” said Nolan.

The new emergency department will be four times as large as the current space and include larger patient bays, a four-bed observation unit and its own waiting area.

“Emergency departments require an appropriate layout and sufficient space for clinical staff to care for patients. This renovation will ensure that staff has the space to care for patients more easily,” said Jane Hooper.

The labs and radiology facilities will be easily accessible from the Emergency Room, said Hooper.

The renovation also includes space for physical therapy and facilities for visiting clinicians such as oncologists and orthopedic surgeons who may see as many as twenty patients in one day.

According to Hooper, the renovated hospital is the center piece of the Medical Village, a method for providing the best possible care as close to home as possible:

“The idea behind the Medical Village is to bring a variety of complementary, health-related services to the one, 70 acre campus in Ticonderoga,” said Hooper.

In addition to a state-of-the-art emergency room, the Medical Village will include a primary care clinic operated by Hudson Headwaters Health Network.

Nursing home and long-term care services, hospice care, senior housing and a capacity to meet other other health-related needs as they arise arise will also be components of the Medical Village, said Jane Hooper, the director of community relations for Inter-Lakes.

The nursing home and adult home, however, are in the process of being sold to Post Acute Partners, a healthcare services company operating a number of nursing homes and adult long-term care facilities throughout the Northeast.

“A closing is expected to take place sometime this spring. The transaction is proceeding smoothly,” said Hooper.

The renovation of the hospital has been funded by a grant from New York State.

“New York State Department of Health officials feel strongly that the Medical Village is a financially viable concept and they want to see it work,” said John Remillard. The hospital’s CEO. “That’s why we were awarded the $9.1 million grant.”

According to Jane Hooper, the source of the grant is a program designed specifically to help community hospitals such as Moses Ludington become economically sustainable, health care delivery facilities.

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Beyond These Stone Walls

By Anthony F. Hall

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fort Ticonderoga Opens for the Season

Fort Ticonderoga has more than one story to tell, the site’s president, Beth Hill, likes to emphasize.

It even has a richer, more extensive military history than can be explained by the stone fortress that has been reconstructed over the past one hundred years.

“The more I learn about the site and its history, the more conscious I am  that the fort was only one part of a military complex that included  extensive earth works,” said Hill.

Establishing the links between the fort and its grounds, and the multiple uses they’ve served over the centuries, and in ways that are compelling to the contemporary visitor, drives Fort Ticonderoga’s mission, said Hill.

One goal of the Fort’s new comprehensive plan, which its Board of Trustees approved in March, was to refine that mission.

“We wanted to look at the site as a whole, from the Fort to the Pavilion and the gardens, to our museum-quality collections. We have so many assets. We tested concepts, took surveys, all with a view to understanding what works, what will resonate with visitors and what it will take to sustain Fort Ticonderoga well into the future,” said Hill.

The Comprehensive Plan is not a public document, and Hill declined to answer questions about such topics as the trustees’ plans for the Pavilion once it has been restored, or to address rumors that it might become a wedding hall, a corporate retreat or an inn or a restaurant.

Nevertheless, the future of Fort Ticonderoga is becoming discernible, if not always visible,  as the site opens for its annual summer season.

Its plan to link the Fort with Lake Champlain has received the most attention.

Earlier this year, Fort Ticonderoga announced that it had purchased the Carillon, a 60 ft tour boat built by Scarano Brothers in 1989.

Ninety minute narrated cruises, departing three times a day from the state boat launch at the Ticonderoga ferry landing, will be offered throughout the summer. The boat is also available for charters.

Access to Lake Champlain and its role in the histories of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution will enhance Fort Ticonderoga’s standing “as a cultural destination experience,” said Hill.

A network of docks, whose location has yet to be determined, will be part of the Fort’s new “waterway transportation and recreation system,” and will include space for the tour boat as well as visitors’ boats, said Hill.

Four new exhibits will open in the Fort’s newly renovated South Barracks: 1756: The Front Line of New France; Iron & Stone: Building Fort Carillon; Object Lessons: Perspectives on Material Culture and Diorama-Rama: History in Miniature.

The exhibitions demonstrate that the Fort’s collection of art and artifacts, from prehistory to the 20th century, are among its greatest assets, assets that have yet to receive the attention they deserve.

Making certain that they do is another long range plan, said Hill.

“Our plan is to build a museum that will allow us to exhibit our world class collections,” said  Hill. “That’s something that was always envisioned. It would also offer us an opportunity to orient our visitors before they enter the site.”

Now that information is instantaneously available through a variety of media, people no longer have to visit historic sites like Fort Ticonderoga to learn about the past. That presents a challenge to the Fort, where for decades the learning experience was a passive one, absorbed, presumably, by school children, summer campers and vacationing families as they shuffled along the ramparts.

Interpretation is more important than ever, said Hill.

“We not only have to present history but historiography; how and why, for example, the reputations of figures like Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold are always being re-evaluated. We need to help our audiences develop a set of meta-skills that will enable them to ask the right questions, no matter what historic site they visit,” said Hill.

And in exhibitions like “Diorama-Rama: History in Miniature,” which displays historical dioramas fashioned in the 1950s, the Fort signals that it will also cast a curatorial eye on the ways in which Fort Ticonderoga itself has interpreted history.

“We have a history as a mid-century tourist attraction. We also have a history as the first example of a visitors’ destination inspired by the Colonial Revival. The reconstructed fort is itself an example of Colonial Revival architecture,” said Hill.

While the Pavilion was built in 1826, its restoration and interior decoration by Stephen H.P. and his wife Sarah G.T. Pell in 1909 was clearly inspired by the Colonial Revival movement. In fact, Stephen Pell may have planted some non-native trees, such as the black locust, because Jefferson had featured them in his landscape designs for the White House, Monticello and Poplar Forest.

As the current restoration of the Pavilion proceeds, the Fort’s staff is looking beyond the house and its formal gardens; they’re exploring the property’s history as a working farm.

This year, for example, visitors may have the opportunity to pluck heirloom apples from the property’s orchards and witness the re-introduction of Red Devon cattle and heritage chickens.

Hill also speaks of Fort Ticonderoga’s ambition to become “a learning campus.” That ambition will take another step toward realization this summer, when the Fort welcomes its first Edward W Pell Graduate Fellows, who will live in a converted boarding house owned by the Fort and work in a variety of programs. This fall, Fort Ticonderoga will

Expand its collaboration with the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins by hosting military leaders and scholars as they study the Battle of Valcour.

Fort Ticonderoga, of course, remains a popular attraction, and this year there will be plenty to occupy the tourist, from re-enactments to scavenger hunts. But could any of those activities be as interesting as watching Fort Ticonderoga emerge as a unique multi-disciplinary, multi-layered cultural institution?

“Ultimately, what you will be able to understand when you come here is the continuity linking of all our stories,”  said Hill.

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Fort Ticonderoga Adding Tour Boat Cruises to Offerings

By Anthony F. Hall

Friday, March 27, 2015

Before Paul Saenger died last fall,  he hoped his cruise boat, ‘The Carillon,’ would find a berth on Lake Champlain, its home waters.

That wish has been fulfilled with the announcement that Fort Ticonderoga will purchase the 60’ foot boat and incorporate it within a new waterfront initiative.

“We are extremely pleased to acquire this iconic vessel,” said Sandy Morhouse, Fort Ticonderoga’s board chairman. “My wife and I were privileged to be Paul’s guests on his last cruise before passing away.  He clearly wanted the boat to stay in the southern part of Lake Champlain. We’re pleased that we’re able to fulfill that wish while, at the same time, enhancing the Fort Ticonderoga experience.”

The Carillon was built in 1989 by Scarano Brothers, the Albany-based firm that also built Shoreline Cruises’s Horicon and Adirondac, which sail out of Lake George Village. Built to recall a Thousand Islands tour boat from the 1920s, the wood boat has been based across the lake from Fort Ticonderoga in Shoreham, Vermont.

It will now be berthed at Fort Ticonderoga, said Beth Hill, the Fort’s president.

“We’ll use the Carillon for field trips, private cruises, cruises that help tell the story of Fort Ticonderoga and, at least once a week, scenic cruises for the general public,” said Hill.

Access to Lake Champlain and its role in the histories of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution will enhance Fort Ticonderoga’s standing “as a cultural destination experience,” said Hill.

A network of docks, whose location has yet to be determined, will be part of the Fort’s new “waterway transportation and recreation system,” said Hill.

Even before it became known that the Carillon was for sale, the Fort had applied for grants to purchase a tour or pontoon boat  and construct docks, Hill said.

A $70,500 state grant, announced in December, will help the Fort construct its first dock, said Hill.

According to Hill, the Carillon will benefit the Town of Ticonderoga as well as the Fort.

“This project is directly linked with a Town of Ticonderoga priority to increase access and waterway experiences through tourism development. Our goals are aligned, which makes this initiative especially exciting,” said Hill.

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Ticonderoga Country Club

Ticonderoga Country Club

Well Dunn

By Bill Giering

Sunday, October 19, 2014

 Golf writer Bill Giering plays the Ticonderoga Country Club and the Lake Placid Club courses, Both Designed by Seymour Dunn.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (ARRCH) does a yeoman’s job of supporting, promoting and protecting the great architecture of the Adirondacks. But when you take all the fancy hand cut wood and and quarried stone and birch bark away you are left with the dirt… under it all, … its always the dirt.

And Seymour Dunn, a Scot, who came here around 1900, did beautiful things with Adirondack soil. He designed and built some of the Adirondacks’ more memorable golf courses.

I had a chance to spend a weekend enjoying two of his designs and the people who flock to laugh, play and even cuss his creative layouts.

The Ticonderoga County Club, just north of Hague, was one of his first designs. Dunn was the head pro at arguably the best course in Europe, Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, before he came to the North County. He may have been known more for his golf instruction than he was for his design. But the Ti Country Club is one of his great gifts to this area.

The entrance to the Club really starts miles before on Route 9N. Tall pines hide the view on both sides of the road, and occasionally you get a quick peek at the lake. The parking lot sits slightly below the well landscaped, brown shingled, white trimmed restaurant and pro shop. Emeralds Restaurant is worth the  trip on its own. Owners Erin and Mark Wood put their hearts into it every day and keep it fresh and new even after 15 years… a great spot for a cold beer or a special dinner.

Your first “WOW!!” happens when you walk around the corner and see the well manicured Ti C.C. course for the first time… Wow!!.  It will remind you of walking through the tunnel at Yankee Stadium, when you first see the baseball diamond, grass cut in interesting designs. Wow!!, You know you are someplace special. Course Superintendent Doug Ross keeps the Wow’s coming.

The course has had a 90 year history of great PGA Professionals.. Mike Doctor, Tom Gunning, Bill Duprey, Tony Fortino , Jack Giles… and 35 year veteran, great guy and keystone of the club PGA Pro George Mackey.

The high staged first tee is surrounded by a stoned wall with past champions listed, a scenic start to a fun filled walk. I had a chance to meet Rick Liddell, this years men’s champion who shot a smooth 70,75, to win his 20th Men’s Club Championship. And Donna Fleury, who won the Ladies Championship for the first time. (photo)

Glens Falls legend Mike Hayes brought his Super Tuesdays Golf Events here years ago, and also invited tennis great Ivan Lendl here. Lendl loved this course.


The Rhythm 

There seems to be a constant drum beat, a smooth rhythm to this Seymour Dunn creation. The first hole is downhill and a nice welcoming hole. The second hole is uphill and more serious, the third a short birdie-able par three. The forth hole is a tricky and long par five, the Battle of Snowshoe was held here…and it is still a battle for sure. The 5th is the easier of the back to back par 5′s, a wonderful worn stacked gray fence that guards the course from the dark forest on the right, the fence is distracting in its natural beauty. And so it goes..easy, hard, easy, hard, easy…. the Seymour Dunn Rhythm leads you around this unique layout. Finishing with a man size 16th  hole, a breather and relaxing 17th, and a true test 18th uphill with a tough green, hard, easy, hard….. A local guy I played with said the 18th green was harder to read than a Russian Newspaper.

I found it interesting that from the 3rd hole thru the 13th hole there was only one par 4. But the rhythm is smooth and constant and won’t let you relax, a real test.

Lake Placid Club

PGA Touring Pro Joey Sindelar won the 1976 NYSHSAA Championship at Ti C.C. with a cool 68-66. The course record is 64 by Brian Tennyson who waa local pro.


Heading North to the Lake Placid Club

After a late bite at the Liquids & Solids restaurant in Lake Placid, an interesting spot with a vast menu that passionate foodies will love. I woke to the view from the sixth floor suite at the Northwood Inn on Main Street in downtown Lake Placid, incredible view to start the day with. Sun glistening off the calm lake, early morning kayaks and paddle boarders leaving slight echoing wakes in the smooth surface of Mirror Lake.

Lake George resident Janice Woodbury, the Tournament  Director and  Steve Englehart, the director of ARRCH,  picked a perfect day for their annual fund raiser golf event at the Seymour Dunn-designed Links Course at the Lake Placid Club. Dunn designed the  lower course in a Scottish Links style in 1909. Big greens with a lot of movement, surrounded by natural fescue grasses, and tricky fairway bunkers.

The Club has a total of 45 holes…. Alister McKenzie who designed Augusta National Golf Club home of the Masters, designed the other 18… pretty good  Scottish company and heritage..

If you ever wanted to pick the best golf holes in the Adirondacks, I know one clear winner that would be on every ones list. I can’t think of a better 19th hole than the view from the back porch of the Lake Placid Club. Foggy and soft mountains in the background, a well maintained mountain course at your feet and even a view of the Olympic Ski jumps are silhouetted in the big sky. Its a stunning view and lovely spot for an after golf beverage. A perfect spot to reflect on how the devilish Seymour Dunn has engage your interest, challenged you and created a track that lifts the human spirit…and makes you feel like you have accomplished something when you are done.

Among the winners of the AARCH tournament were these Lake George residents: Nancy Hyman; Karin Hyman-Gentner; Grant Gentner and Nicole Ryan.

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Five Nations: Mini Golf With Historical Theme

By Mirror Staff

Thursday, September 4, 2014

“School may be out, but you can still learn,” Jay Wells tells the kids who play miniature golf at the new course that he and Jane and Paul Ingrey have opened near the Ticonderoga Country Club, north of Hague.

The 18-hole course, at the Five Nations Driving Range, is practically a guide to the region’s rich history.

Every hole is linked to an historic event or site in the area, including the Battle on Snowshoes, which took place in the winter of 1757 just beyond the course.

“The historical theme is a good fit for Ticonderoga; we wanted to tap into its role in history,” said Wells, who teaches at Ticonderoga High School.

But the historically themed course was not intended solely for the instruction of students; adults also find it appealing. A visitor from the United Kingdom who was playing the course on the day we were there, for instance, took pleasure in noting that Jeffrey Amherst had chased the French out of Ticonderoga in 1759.

The golf course opened earlier this year, adjacent to the public driving range that Wells and the Ingreys opened in 2013. The driving range itself supplements the country club and allows golfers to practice before heading out to the golf course.

“We want to make this a destination,” said Wells, noting that features of Five Nations include a chipping course and night golf.  The site is also available for parties and special events.

The Ingreys are also co-founders of Northern Lake George Paddle, whose platform tennis courts also opened earlier this summer.

Wells sees Five Nations as a collaborator not only in Northern Lake George Paddle’s efforts to attract more visitors to Ticonderoga, but in its efforts to support the community’s young people.

“I’m pleased to be involved in this cross marketing effort and to be part of Platform for Life’s programs to develop our youth’s leadership and work skills,” said Wells. “We’re looking forward to working with Northern Lake George Paddle and the Ticonderoga Country Club to make a positive difference within the community.”

As part of its efforts to work with the community, Five Nations recently hosted a kids’ golf camp with the Ticonderoga Country Club and its pro, George Mackey.

“There was a large turn out and everyone had a lot of fun while learning the basics of golf,” said Wells.

Five Nations Golf, LLC can be contacted at 518-586-6838. 

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Jamie Hayes, Meg McDonald,Patty Hogan, Lillith Ida, Anna McDonald

Jamie Hayes, Meg McDonald,Patty Hogan, Lillith Ida, Anna McDonald

Platform Tennis Comes to Northern Lake George

By Anthony F. Hall

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The introduction of platform tennis to northern Lake George will be celebrated on Saturday, July 12th, when Northern Lake George Paddle’s courts will formally open with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9 am.

The two courts and a viewing deck, a warming hut and bathroom are located on Route 9N, north of Hague and adjacent to Eddie’s Restaurant.

The ribbon cutting ceremony, which will be attended by New York State Senator Betty Little and local officials, will be followed by refreshments and opportunities to play the only outdoor year-round racquet sport in North America. The hosts will provide the necessary equipment.

According to Patty Hogan, the courts will be home to a comprehensive program of memberships, leagues, lessons, tournaments and “Platform for Life,” a local initiative launched last year by Hogan and Andrea McDonald to help young people acquire life and work skills.

 Dan & Barb Bianco, Mary Faith Sinnott, Sally Hayes, Jamie Hayes. Photos courtesy of Andrea McDonald

Dan & Barb Bianco, Mary Faith Sinnott, Sally Hayes, Jamie Hayes. Photos courtesy of Andrea McDonald

“Our belief is that the right choices you learn to make on the court will help teach you to make the right choices in life,” said Hogan, a former Platform Tennis National Champion who was inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame in 2005.

Hogan is married to Ticonderoga native Sandy Morhouse, and the Morhouses and Hague’s Jane and Paul Ingrey led the effort to establish Northern Lake George Paddle.

“We all love ‘paddle’ as the sport is known among those who play platform tennis, and we wanted to bring the sport to the area and to get kids and the whole population out there as much as possible, so we began to explore our options,” said Hogan.

“We formed a partnership with the Ticonderoga Revitalization Alliance, whose not-for-profit status will enable us to collect tax deductible donations for local youth programs, including Platform for Life and the opportunities it presents for giving kids access to the courts,” said Hogan.

The costs of outfitting the Northern Lake George Paddle with a warming hut, viewing deck and restrooms were reduced through discounted materials and donated labor, said Hogan.

“Scott Hearburg, who owns the McDonalds restaurants in Ticonderoga and Warrensburg, Rick Bartlett and Doug Ross, organized what we call ‘a community build,’ because when a community builds something, it’s also a community that’s being built,” said Hogan.

The costs of building the courts themselves were defrayed in part by a $10,000 donation from the American Platform Tennis Association, but the largest share of the burden was shouldered by the partners in Northern Lake George Paddle LLC, led by the Morhouses, the Ingreys and Eddie’s Restaurant owner Dave Iuliano, who leased property to Northern Lake George Paddle for the nominal sum of $1 a year.

The partners will donate all profits to local youth programs.

Children will have permanent, free access to the courts. Teenagers can earn free access in return for devoting time to the community as a volunteer.

Everyone will have free access throughout July and August. Anyone interested in using the courts between 10 am and 5 pm can register at the Ticonderoga Country Club’s pro shop, where paddles will be available as of July 1.  After 5 pm, paddlers can register at the courts and borrow equipment from Eddie’s Restaurant.

Memberships will be available for $175 a year for an individual and $225 for a family, making Northern Lake George Paddle one of the least expensive platform tennis facilities in the United States, said Hogan.

Hogan envisions Northern Lake George Paddle’s courts as a destination for tournaments and clinics that will also benefit local resorts and restaurants.

“Stay and Play,” quips Hogan.

But, she added, the partners want the courts to be accessible to everyone to exercise and develop healthy lifestyles, which is one reason why Northern Lake George Paddle will also offer its own version of pickle ball, a popular and relatively easy sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and ping pong.

Individuals and groups who are not members of Northern Lake George Paddle will also be able to use the courts for a small fee.

For more information, visit lakegeorgeplatformtennis.com or email pattyhogan8@gmail.com.

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“Founding Fashion”

By Anthony F. Hall

Monday, June 30, 2014

New Exhibition at Fort Ticonderoga Explores the Diversity in Uniformity of Military Dress

Among George Washington’s many achievements, you may wish to include this: he’s the father of the first military uniform to represent a united, independent American republic.

You can see that uniform for yourself in a portrait of Washington by Charles Peale Polk in Fort Ticonderoga’s new exhibition, “Founding Fashion: the Diversity of Regularity in 18th Century Military Clothing,” which draws upon the fort’s extensive collections of 18th-century military clothing, art works and archaeological artifacts.

“The objects and artworks featured in this exhibit are unique,” said Chris Fox, the Fort Ticonderoga curator who organized the show.

George Washington by Charles Peale Polk

George Washington by Charles Peale Polk

Included in the exhibit are four rare American and British 18th-century uniforms and other textiles, such as an American soldier’s knapsack, a British officer’s sash and one of the few surviving examples of a British army soldier’s blanket.

“Historical objects are wonderful things, but it’s the history and the personal stories associated with those objects that have the largest impact, because they establish a meaningful link to this particular place,” said Fox.

The Revolutionary War soldier’s knapsack, for instance, was owned by one Benjamin Warner, who settled in Ticonderoga after the Revolution.

“He obviously felt compelled to save it because of its connection with his experience during the Revolution,” said Fox. “He left instructions that it be passed down from one generation to the next, which it was until it was donated to Fort Ticonderoga in 1928.”

The British army-issued blanket was retrieved by an American at the Battle of Hubbardton, a couple of days after Fort Ticonderoga fell to the British in 1777.

In fact, the British soldier had probably wrapped himself in it at the Fort after taking part in its capture, said Fox.

“Founding Fashion” is displayed in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center.

After this year-round, climate controlled facility opened in 2008, Fort Ticonderoga was able to start mounting exhibitions based on its collections.

“There’s little point in having collections if you can’t display them and make them accessible,” said Fox. “Pieces from our collections of uniforms, clothing and textiles have not been displayed in 25 years, and never like this. We’ve entered a new chapter in the Fort’s history; we’re rethinking how we incorporate our collections and our activities to better tell the stories of the Fort.”

Hiring its first Director of Exhibitions will help Fort Ticonderoga tell those stories, said Fox.

Matthew Keagle, who is completing a Ph.D at the Bard Graduate Center in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture, has been hired to fill the position. As it happens, his dissertation topic is the significance of military dress in the 18th century.

Allan Ramsay's portrait of Major General James Abercromby

Allan Ramsay's portrait of Major General James Abercromby

“Fort Ticonderoga has the single best collection of military dress, by volume, any where,” said Keagle. “What makes Fort Ticonderoga especially impressive is that it not only has examples of military dress and military portraits, but archaeological artifacts excavated on-site. Each item helps us contextualize and interpret the other items.”

“Founding Fashion” includes many of the buttons, buckles, fragments of cloth and metallic trims that have been found at Fort Ticonderoga over the years.

“These artifacts show the diversity of materials used in the construction of military clothing in the 18th century,” said Fox.

“The artifacts attest to the human need to adorn oneself, even in war time and at a place like Fort Ticonderoga,” said Keagle.

Art selected from the museum’s collection illustrates how military clothing was worn and interpreted.

In addition to Allan Ramsay’s portrait of Major General James Abercromby, Polk’s portrait of Washington and others, the exhibition includes 19th century artists’ renditions of military dress.

Those renditions are not always accurate, but telling nonetheless, said Fox.

“Much of what is known about 18th-century military clothing is documented only through paintings,” said Fox. “But little of it survived, so there were few points of reference. Many of the uniforms portrayed in 19th century paintings are actually based on clothing from the War of 1812.”

The British and American uniforms displayed in “Founding Fashion” are among the few to have survived, said Fox.

“They were acquired by Fort Ticonderoga at various times from the 1940s through the 1960s. They were probably packed away and forgotten about until people came to recognize their significance,” said Fox.

Fifty hours were required to make a single coat, said Fox. A seven-minute, time-lapse video included in the exhibition enables viewers to observe the entire process, from measuring a person to cutting the cloth to the final fitting.

“Founding Fashion” is not limited to the gallery in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center, a static exhibition, said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga’s President and CEO.

“The clothing worn by the museum’s living history interpreters this season is based in part upon the collections. Visitors can examine original garments in the exhibit and then see accurate reproductions of some of those garments worn by members of the staff as they present programs in and around the Fort. Moreover, living history staff can be watched constructing clothing every day,” said Hill.

Fort Ticonderoga has also initiated an interactive program for students called The Artificer’s Apprentice.

“After visiting the exhibit, students can experiment with tailoring and shoe making, two of the most important and common trades in military and civilian life in the 18th century,” said Hill. “They will learn about the local and global networks that supplied leather, cloth, and the other materials used by artificers. Students will draft patterns and sew cloth and leather, and become familiar with the economics of acquiring supplies and materials.”

For more information, contact Fort Ticonderoga at 585-2821.

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The Pavilion as the Fort Ticonderoga Hotel, 1895

The Pavilion as the Fort Ticonderoga Hotel, 1895

Walls that Talk: Preservationists Seek to Uncover Architectural Secrets of a 19th Century Landmark

By Anthony F. Hall

Friday, November 29, 2013

“If these walls could talk….” whispers a guest on a guided tour of the Pavilion, the house built by William Ferris Pell in 1826 below the ruins of Fort Ticonderoga.

As a matter of fact, these walls can talk, or they will talk, at least to those who have been trained to listen, once a study of the structure now underway is completed.

In the interim, Fort Ticonderoga curator Chris Fox has been leading tours of the building, and although the team from the firm of historic preservation architect John G. Waite started work only recently, the walls are already yielding clues about the building’s history.

The living room, circa 1962

“We’re finding that we don’t know as much about the Pavilion as we thought we did. Behind the lathe and plaster, the building is telling us its own story,” Fox told a group taking the tour last weekend.

According to Fox, Pell built the Pavilion in 1826, a few years after he had purchased the Fort Ticonderoga ruins and surrounding lands from Union and Columbia Colleges.

Pell soon realized, however, a hotel was needed to lodge the increasing numbers of tourists visiting the fort or transferring from Lake George steamboats to those plying Lake Champlain, and by the 1840s, the house had become a hotel.

Some of the guest registers have been preserved, and according to Fox, the hotel lodged a number of notables, including Francis Parkman, Seneca Ray Stoddard, Robert Todd Lincoln and U.S. Grant, Jr.

“Whether it was a good hotel or not, we don’t know. There’s conflicting evidence. Some letters say it was good, others say it was the worst hotel they’d ever visited,” said Fox.

William Ferris Pell

“By 1900, the building had fallen into disrepair; it was no longer habitable, as either a home or a hotel. Farm animals were living in one wing,” said Fox. “It was in worse condition than it is now.”

It was at this point, Fox said, that the Pell family “stepped back into the picture.”

In 1909, William Ferris Pell’s great-grandson, Stephen Pell and his wife Sarah G.T. Pell began the reconstruction of the fort and the restoration of the Pavilion. It was the family’s summer home until Stephen Pell’s death in 1950, when it passed to his son, John H. G. Pell.  He and his family occupied it until his death in 1987. It has been vacant ever since.

“We know a lot about the uses to which the Pavilion was put over the years, but we’re just beginning to sort out its structural history, trying to learn what has come and what has gone,” said Fox.  “We’re now in the process of studying the archaeology of the building, the history you can’t see until you get inside the walls. That’s where the real story is.”

Among the mysteries of the building’s history, said Fox, is one that has long intrigued him, namely, the possibility that the Pavilion was built upon the remains of an older building, one that reportedly burned in 1821.

“The big questions concern the chronology of the building’s construction,” said Fox.

Analyzing everything from paint and wallpaper samples to the age of the attic timbers, the architectural preservationists will have a much better understanding of what the Pavilion looked like in the 19th century, said Fox.

“Was it the same house in 1826 that we see today? What might it have looked like in the 1820s and 1840s? Was it even white? We’re teasing out its history as we never have before. It may turn out to be a far more important structure than anyone imagined. My head is spinning with possibilities,” said Fox.

While some members of the tour said they were saddened to see the deterioration of the once grand house (it was, for instance, redecorated in the early 1960s by legendary interior designer Sister Parish), Fox said its current condition made it ripe for research.

“If the building were in good condition, much of the evidence of the changes that took place over time would have escaped our notice. There wasn’t much renovation, just a fresh coat of paint now and then to make things look good,” said Fox.

In any event, the Pavilion will be fully restored, although no date for construction has been set, said Fox.

Curator Chris Fox

“The purposes for which the Pavilion will be restored will be guided by a strategic master plan that will tell us what its best uses are, for Fort Ticonderoga and for our visitors,” said Fox.

“There are a lot of ideas on the table. Should it be used for catered events? Accommodations? A 19th-century hotel experience? If it becomes a historic house museum, it would probably be multi-faceted, reflecting more than one era. This building has more than one story to tell,” said Fox. “

The last guided tour of the Pavilion of the year took place on October 20. The tours will resume in 2014.

“Next year, it will be a different tour because we will have learned much more than we know now. Coming to understand a historic building is an evolving process,” said Fox.

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The Lower Falls in spring

The Lower Falls in spring

Lake George’s Connection to Lake Champlain: the LaChute River Trail

By Anthony F. Hall

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The hill that separates the outlet of Lake George from the creek that opens into Lake Champlain is among the oldest portages in continuous use in North America.

The Native Americans gave it a name: Ticonderoga, “the place between waters.”

Up and down its slope have passed explorers and naturalists such as Isaac Jogues and Peter Kalm, travelers such as Thomas Jefferson and, of course, the armies of the French, the British and the Americans as supremacy over North America and its strategic waterways shifted from one nation to another.

The Ticonderoga Heritage Museum

Thanks to PRIDE of Ticonderoga, a local civic organization, a three-mile trail along the LaChute River has been created and can easily be hiked, a fact unknown to most visitors to Lake George’s south basins, and to many of its residents as well, for that matter.

The best place to start is the Ticonderoga Heritage Museum, located near the Carillon or lower falls, where the LaChute River becomes a placid creek.

The museum, which occupies the administrative offices of the old Ticonderoga Pulp and Paper Company, is not simply a convenient trail head. It’s also an introduction to the river’s industrial heritage.

The vast Bicentennial Park, at the edge of which sits the museum, was, until the early 1970s,  a complex of pulp and paper mills ultimately controlled by the International Paper Company.

It was also the site of Joseph Dixon and Company, which refined the graphite from Hague for the famed Ticonderoga pencils.

Under director Mary Curtis, the Heritage Museum has developed a series of interpretive displays that explain how the river made Ticonderoga an industrial center of northern New York.

From the outlet at Lake George to the creek, the river powered saw mills and grist mills as well as small factories making barrels, boxes, furniture and even boats.

Six dams interrupted the river’s 220-foot descent from Lake George to Lake Champlain, and portions of their remains can be seen along the trail.

The last dam encountered (if walking uphill from the Heritage Museum) is located nearest to the outlet of the lake. It is now operated by a hydro-electric power plant.

State law, however, requires that outflows from the dam be managed for the benefit of Lake George and  the maintenance of predictable lake-levels, which the hydro-electric company does under the supervision of the Lake George Park Commission.

It was not always thus. High lake waters, washing the soil off the roots of trees along the shores of the islands, and killing the trees, had been “a headache since 1887,” a Lake George Association official said in 1943.

John Apperson, the noted conservationist, and Nobel Laureate Irving Langmuir became convinced that the dam at the outlet of the lake, then operated by International Paper and used to generate power its mills, was causing the lake to rise and fall above and below its natural levels, and was thus responsible for the erosion of the islands. Lake George, they declared, should not be a mill-pond.

The 1879 Frazier Bridge

Since many of the islands suffering from erosion were owned by the state, Langmuir believed that New York should sue the owners of the dam for destroying parts of the forest preserve. He urged the Lake George Association to pass a resolution calling upon the state to initiate such a lawsuit, which, had it been successful, would have forced the dam to be demolished. The LGA demurred, preferring instead to support the establishment of a state legislative committee to investigate the causes of the fluctuating water levels.

Nevertheless, the Attorney General did commence a lawsuit, and Langmuir established another organization to support it. In the end, the suit was dismissed.  But the courts ruled that the state had the authority to regulate water levels on Lake George, and legislation was passed that ensures that the dam is operated in such a way that water levels do not vary drastically from year to year.

The best view of the dam is from a footbridge, constructed in 2011,  at the site of a disused railroad trestle. Across that bridge, trains once took steamboat passengers from the Baldwin docks on Lake George to Ticonderoga and Lake Champlain, where their journey through “the great northeast passage” would continue.

If you go: A walking map of the LaChute River Walk published by PRIDE of Ticonderoga is available at the Ticonderoga Heritage Museum, which is located at the intersection of Montcalm Street and Bicentennial Park and is open weekends until Columbus Day. Call 585-2696 for more  information.  More information about the Lake George-Lake Champlain corridor, or “the great northeast journey” can be found at the website of Lakes to Locks Passage, lakestolocks.com

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