Year built: 1930
Architect: Godwin, Thompson, Patterson—New York City 1
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 24, 1980
New York contracts to buy Swenson camp
By NANCY BOYER-RECHLIN
SARANAC LAKE — The Swenson "mansion" on Upper Saranac Lake is a step closer to destruction because owners of the property have signed a contract to sell the 130-acre parcel to the state, The Daily Enterprise has learned.
The state has purportedly offered $307,000 in Environmental Bond money for the property on the stipulation that the owners remove all buildings before a targeted January 1 closing date.
"I have not seen the contract yet," said Dale Huyck of the Department of Environmental Conservation on Friday. He understands that Albany has returned the documents to Bernard Nemeroff of Miami, Florida, who is both a partner and lawyer for Indian Carry Associates, the deeded landowner.
Apparently some required information was omitted from the papers and must be inserted and returned to the state.
The Daily Enterprise has been informed that for their part, the state has done all its paper work and has the money immediately available.
In a development that may slow final action on the land transfer, a private group of local people made the owners an offer on Friday that tops the state's. Although a contract with the state would appear to preempt a new deal, Dan Jenkins who lives at the Indian Carry property and has spearheaded a drive since May to purchase the land with private funds, is hopeful it can still be pulled off.
"The owners are happy with the offer. We met the deadline we were given by the owners to come up with the funds," Jenkins says. "We don't know if the state will be willing to renegotiate their position, but we're hoping there aren't any deadlocks. If there are, we hope we can iron them out.
At stake in the negotiations are various land use and tax status issues. State ownership will mean the prior destruction of all the buildings on the property, including an impressive 30-room "mansion" built in the early 1930s by Saranac Lake architect William Distin 4and builders Branch and Callanan.
Huyck points out that although the building is a "substantial structure and may have some architectural points of merit, it is not listed as an historic building by the "state."
"In the past we have destroyed structures that were historically significant before anyone became interested in this (preservation) activity. So, now the state makes a concerted effort to identify significant structures and ensure that they are not destroyed," he added.
Demolition of the buildings must be complete before land transfers to the state. A January 1 deadline set by the owners may make it difficult to salvage the valuable materials in the structure, which include hardwood floors, fireplaces tiles and doors.
Even if private interests succeed in a last ditch effort to derail the state contract and procure the desirable Upper Saranac Lake acreage, the future of the rambling Swenson Camp would be uncertain.
An oversized structure, it has been neglected over the years and may prove to be a "white elephant" to future owners as well. Jenkins has suggested that the building could feasibly be cut into three or four sections and moved to various sites on the property as separate homes. Although dish pans catch water leaking from the ceiling in the massive living room, Jenkins points out that the structure is very sound. It sits on a full basement and all the doors and windows still work smoothly, he says. Also part of the camp are a boathouse, guide house, 3-car garage, a stable and a barn.
Lake frontage and common borders with existing state land holdings are among factors that make the Indian Carry acreage attractive to the Department of Environmental Conservation, Huyck said.
The piece is bordered by state land on the east and west. Acquisition would help consolidate state lands — eliminating boundary line maintenance related survey costs — a state priority.
Once it is classified as forest preserve lands, camping, hunting, fishing, hiking and cross country skiing will be considered "compatible uses." Any intensive development, such as a campsite along the lines of the Fish Creek Campsites, is not compatible with the purchase, Huyck stressed.
Huyck said that the purchase would make it possible to relocate the canoe carry between Stoney Creek Ponds and Upper Saranac Lake thereby shortening it and eliminating a dangerous section along Route 3. The carry originally crossed the highway at right angles and went through the property now owned by Indian Carry Associates. When former owners objected to the periodic invasion of their privacy, the state routed the carry along the highway to stay on state land.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 11, 1980 Swenson 'Camp' may be saved by private buyers
By Nancy Boyer-Rechlin
SARANAC LAKE - A state contract to buy the Indian Carry property on Upper Saranac Lake is in a state of flux with the owners vacillating between their commitment to the state and a more attractive private offer. Involved is the famous Swenson Camp and estate.
"We have a signed contract that we could hold them to in court if we want to," said Dale Huyck of the Department of Environmental Conservation yesterday. "The owner has had second thoughts about the process and has been in touch with us about being released from the contract. We have told him to give us something in writing," he revealed.
Huyck admitted that his head was swimming with the many reversals on the part of owner Gregory Nowakoski and his lawyer and partner, Bernard Nemeroff. "It's off today, but tomorrow it could be back on," he said.
On November 21st, just days after the state contract was signed, a private group made the owners an offer that bested the state's. Dan Jenkins who resides on the property and has been working since spring to swing a private deal said that the figure offered by the group was somewhat more than the state's $307,000 figure and had the advantage of not requiring the owners to remove or destroy the 50-year-old Swenson camp and related buildings. "We are very hopeful the deal will go through," he said. Jenkins has pointed out in the past that the state would be free to negotiate with new private landowners for a canoe carry right-of-way.
The possibility of re-routing the carry between Stoney Creek ponds and Upper Saranac Lake to eliminate a section along the Rt. 3 highway was one of several advantages the state saw in the purchase of the land which is bordered by existing state land.
The state deal required that the owners remove all buildings before transfer, which would include the razing or burning of the 30-room Swenson mansion.
The owners are under the gun financially to dispose of the property before the end of the year because of back taxes owed to Franklin County. The Franklin County Treasurer verified this morning that there are about $45,000 in four years worth of past due taxes outstanding on the property. This figure does not include 1980-81 school taxes. The county is mandated to take title to the land on December 27, the third anniversary of the first tax sale. Because the 27th is a Saturday, the county will probably take title on the 29th.
Treasurer William A. Hughes explained that the county routinely puts a lien on property on which taxes are owed the day after Christmas each year. Although the properties are listed then in tax sale columns, the county does not actually take title until, threes years later. Even then, the treasurer's office may hold off on selling the land to give the original owner or a member of his family the opportunity to redeem the land. Ninety-five percent of the time the original owner gets the property back, he said.
"I hope the county doesn't have to take it over," Hughes commented. "I hope the owners get their act together." Of the potential sale to the state, he added "If the state is going to buy it they need to do it before the county takes possession. Once we take title it gets a little complicated, it's another layer of bureaucracy."
Should the land be sold beforehand, the new owners would need to pay the outstanding taxes by December 29.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 23, 1980
Famous Swenson camp saved by private sale
SARANAC LAKE — A private corporation formed exclusively for the deal has purchased the Indian Carry property on Upper Saranac Lake. The property is the site of the famous Swenson Camp and estate.
Tupper Lake Attorney David Johnson, representing the buyers, said Monday that the property has been purchased by Silver Sky Inc., a private corporation. Although Johnson said he was not familiar with all of the people involved in the company, two of its principal officers are Charles Ritchie of Saranac Inn and Raymond Jenkins of Upper Saranac Lake.
The private purchase preempts plans by the State of New York to acquire the property. The state's plans would have mandated complete destruction of the famous camp.
Ritchie declined to name the other members of the corporation this morning, but said that the group is "quite small." There are "a couple of people involved who know Upper Saranac Lake well," he added.
The group is "going to spend a little while making plans" as to what to do with the property, Ritchie said. Johnson said that there are presently no plans for the property to remain a private estate, but he did not elaborate. A formal statement will be issued in the next few weeks detailing the company's plans, he said.
The purchase price of the property is reported to be approximately $307,000, roughly the same amount as that offered by the state for the land.
The state had had a contract to buy the property from former owners Gregory Nowakowski and Bernard Nemeroff. However, when a private investor was found, the state withdrew from the pact.
Both Johnson and Nowakowski praised the actions of state Officials, particularly Norman Van Valkenburgh, chief of Land Acquisition for the Department of Environmental Conservation.
"In this whole thing, the state has behaved, particularly through the person of Norman Van Valkenburgh,... with patience, compassion, understanding, and cooperation," Nowakowski said. "It's a pretty good example and a rare one of how government can act if they chose to be something other than a go by the book bureaucracy."
"I'm very grateful to Mr. Van Valkenburgh," he added.
The deal for the property was closed just days before the county would have taken title to the land for back taxes. The county would have been mandated to take title to the land on Dec. 27, the third anniversary of the first tax sale.
The previous owners owed approximately $45,000 in four years of back taxes. The figure did not include 1980-81 school taxes.
The new owners will have to pay the taxes prior to Dec. 29.
Had the state bought the property, the former owners would have been required to remove or destroy the 50-year old camp and related buildings. The camp is one of the few remaining estate camps remaining from the heyday of the Adirondacks.
The state will now have to negotiate a right-of-way for a canoe carry. The possibility of re-routing the carry between Stoney Creek ponds and Upper Saranac Lake to eliminate a section along Route 3 was one of the reasons the state wished to purchase the property. The land is bordered by existing state land.
Thursday, July 23, 1981
Silver Sky defends access road closing
By E.J. CONZOLA II
Dan Jenkins of Silver Sky Inc., the company which recently purchased the property the road passes through, said that there had been problems with allowing vehicular traffic on the unimproved road, and that an alternative plan offered to the state several months ago had been ignored.
Jenkins said that his company had chosen to close the road because of misuse of the property by fishermen and hikers, and the lack of any apparent state interest in remedying the situation. A great deal of trash had been dumped along the road, and some people were apparently practicing target shooting in the area, he said.
A letter was written to Department of Environmental Conservation official Dale Huyck six months ago, outlining the problems and offering a compromise solution, Jenkins said. The alternative offered by Silver Sky would reroute the canoe carry path from its present course along Route 3 to the now-closed road to a single crossing of the highway and a new path through Silver Sky property to the lake.
Silver Sky is willing to grant the state an easement through its property if the new route were to be adopted, Jenkins said.
Jenkins said that state officials never responded to the company's letter, and added he was upset that the state had approached the Harrietstown Town Board concerning the problem without first contacting the' property owners.
Huyck said that the state is in fact negotiating with Silver Sky concerning the purchase of the property. He noted that the state had reached an agreement with the previous owners for the purchase of the property, "Indian Carry Associates"], but had rescinded the agreement at the request of the owners when Silver Sky made its offer.
The property concerned is the former Swenson camp.
Jenkins listed several other reasons for closing the carry. He noted that Silver Sky could be held liable if someone was injured on the road, and that the recent increase in the amount of vehicular traffic presented an "increased danger to pedestrians.
He also noted that Adirondack Park Agency use plans for the area do not permit the use of the site as a boat launch, a use the property has been put to frequently in the recent past.
While the area is closed to vehicular traffic by a barricade, persons on foot still have access to the site, Jenkins said. He acknowledged that the state does have a right-of-way through the property, but noted that the road had originally been intended as a canoe carry and fishing access only; not a roadway to a boat launching site.
Huyck said that an access through the property has been available to the public "as far back as we can trace." The road itself was moved to its present location about 70 years ago when the Swenson camp was built. 5
The road is often used by lake trout fishermen who fish from boats, he added. I f there is a sufficient demand for a boat launch site in that area, Jenkins said that the state should consider building such a facility on state land adjacent to Silver Sky property.
Jenkins said that Silver Sky had sought to avoid closing the road, but that the lack of response by the state had left them with no alternative.
"We are sorry about that situation," he said. "We think we have the public's best interest in mind," he added.
From the catalog of the 24th Annual Westport, New York Boat Show, 2009 ENCORE 1934 18’ Chris-Craft 54 Antique Restored Runabout 1934 Chris-Craft 55hp 4 cyl Howard & Claire Peck
Encore, originally named Lady Lou, was delivered on May 7, 1934 to Swenson Camp on the south end of Upper Saranc Lake, NY. Built in 1930 on 460 acres, Camp Swenson encompassed a house with 22 fireplaces, a guide house, chauffeur house, 2 three car garages, a barn, a stable, a nine hole golf course and a three stall boathouse, where Lady Lou was kept. When the property sold in 1974, a Raymond Jenkins & family moved into the guide house as caretakers. Raymond’s son, Spencer Jenkins, who later founded the Spencer Boatworks of Saranac Lake, remembers "tooling around the lake" many times in Lady Lou. In 1990 Lady Lou was given to Raymond Jenkins for his caretaking services and as payment on property taxes. Howard Peck, today's owner, then purchased her in 1993, completely restored her, then sold her. In 2002 Howard re-purchased her. Thus Lady Lou became Encore and with another complete restoration, including her original Model B engine, which had been left behind in the Camp boathouse. "Again Encore" was just like she had been in 1934 when she arrived at the Swenson Camp. **
** Michael Preis makes the following corrections to the above story about the Encore: "Lady Lou was originally sold and delivered by Crescent Bay (Harry Duso) to Edwin Marks (known affectionately by kids at Knollwood as "Uncle Ed") at Cottage #4 at Knollwood. I presume that the date reported is correct. I knew the boat when I was growing up at Knollwood and after it was gone I often wondered if I would ever see her again. One year I attended the boat show and auction at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton and read the history of one of the boats on display. My heart skipped a beat when I saw that it was formerly the Lady Lou. I didn't get to meet Howard Peck in person but spoke with him on the phone about the boat. He had researched its history rather extensively and confirmed to me that the boat had originally been sold to Eddie Marks. Somewhere along the line Uncle Ed got rid of the boat and it ended up on the Upper Lake. I remember Mrs. Marks (she died some years before he did). I can't say for sure whether she was known as "Lou," but I think she was. Her name was Lucie." -- emailed to HSL from Michael Preis, 3/26/17.
1. Recorded in Branch and Callanan records, date 6/1/1930 (see Historic Saranac Lake Branch & Callanan files)
2. Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald, May 11, 1967
3. Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald, November 25, 1988
4. Godwin, Thompson, Patterson of New York City are listed as the architects in Branch and Callanan records dated 6/1/1930 (see Historic Saranac Lake Branch & Callanan files). Distin may have had a hand in later modifications.
5. This implies that the camp was built in 1910. This may be due to a confusion with the other "Swenson Camp", Camp Arokortu, on the southwest shore of Upper Saranac Lake, near Deer Island