Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald, April 20, 1988
Wenonah Lodge on Upper Saranac Lake sold to Glens Falls corporation
The summer hideaway's complex of buildings, which range in diverse architecture from Victorian to Japanese, were built in 1915 by Jules Bache, a leading industrialist in the early part of the century. He was head of J.S. Bache Inc brokerage house, the vice president of Chrysler Corporation and president of Dome Mines. Inc. A collector of fine art, his collection now occupies an entire wing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In the early years the Bache family camp entertained the heads of state and industry, as well as many stars of stage and screen.
Since 1953 Miss Palazo has meticulously cared for the property, preserving much of its original flavor. The Wenonah Lodge hostess gained a reputation for being very selective about her guests. Travelers had to first win her approval, before being allowed to rent accommodations at her facility.
Above are an aerial view of Wenonah and a photo of Miss Palanzo (right) handing over the keys to the place to Dr. Schutze and his wife, Pat, who plan to operate the resort this summer.
According to a release which accompanied last week's announcement of the sale, which reportedly amounted to $1 28 million. Dr. Schutze and the other investors in the Wenonah Lodge Corporation, intend to preserve the historic nature of the facility, while at the same time allowing people to own a portion of it.
Offered for sale will be each of the seven main buildings, several of which are large enough to be divided into more than one dwelling Building lots on the lake side of the entrance road and other lots in an adjoining 50-acre parcel will also be sold Condominiums won't be built, however, according to the announcement.
Press-Republican, December 1, 1988
Plans filed to subdivide 'Wenonah' estate
By CHRIS MELE, Staff Writer
UPPER SARANAC LAKE - The new owners of the former Jules Bache estate, known as "Wenonah,'' have formally filed plans with the Harrietstown Planning Board to subdivide the 54-acre property into 20 parcels.
The seven existing buildings that for years served as a resort-hotel will be converted into single-family dwellings, according to plans filed by Glens Falls dentist Dr. John Schutze, president of the Wenonah Lodge Corp. that bought the property last spring for an estimated $1.2 million. In addition to the existing seven lots, Schutze intends to create 13 new lots, with four on the lake and nine on the upland side of the road leading into the property.
Schutze is seeking preliminary plot approval from the town planing board, which will review the application at a meeting Dec. 7. The Adirondack Park Agency will have jurisdictional review over the lakeside building conversion and subdivision.
The average size of the new lots will be about four acres. Schutze said a homeowners association would probably be established. He also intends to retain the rustic style of the camp.
'We're looking to preserve the atmosphere associated with Wenonah." he said. "We're looking to keep everything the way it is."
Charles Ritchie, president of the Upper Saranac Lake Association, said "Wednesday he could not comment on the proposal because he has not yet seen the plans. He noted the association is not against development on the lake, but is concerned that it have the least impact possible.
Speaking in general and not of the Wenonah plans in particular, Ritchie said the association would view a single-family home development as "perfectly acceptable" if it were done appropriately.
The association has served as a watchdog of development on Upper Saranac Lake, vigorously opposing any effort to build multi-unit dwellings in the area and lobbying for a zoning amendment that would ban them outright. The group effectively blocked a plan by Florida developer Brian Mantis to construct multi-unit townhouses at his Wawbeek Inn earlier this year.
The Wenonah, considered one of the Adirondack "Great Camps" on Upper Saranac Lake, was sold to Schutze and a group of investors by Grayce Palanzo. Palanzo owned the rustic complex since 1953 and had preserved the buildings and grounds.
The camp was built in 1915 by Jules Bache, head of the Bache Inc. brokerage firm and vice president of Dome Mines Inc. It is considered eclectic in design, with architectural features ranging from Victorian to Japanese. The main lodge, hotel and cottages have housed vacationing visitors, including heads of state and industry, stars of stage and screen and the girls of the Ziegfield Follies.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 9, 1988
Planning Board faced with Wenonah subdivision
By PATRICK KEYES, SARANAC LAKE — The Harrietstown Planning Board has until Jan. 31 to decide on a preliminary plan for a 20-lot subdivision in one of the great camps on Upper Saranac Lake.
Dr. John Shutze, a Glens Falls dentist, heads the Wenonah Lodge Corporation which bought the Wenonah Lodge in March of 1988 for $1.28 million. Shutze was at the planning board's regular meeting Wednesday to present his plans to turn the resort into a residential community.
The development requires the preliminary approval of the town planning board before it can be submitted to the state Department of Health and the Adirondack Park Agency.
The camp consists of 54 acres divided by Panther Mountain Road, which splits the property into parcels of 14 and 40 acres, with the smaller chunk on the shore of Upper Saranac Lake.
Shutze plans to convert the existing camp buildings on the waterfront into seven individual single family homes. He also wants to add four new lots on the side of the road closest to the water, and nine large lots across the road.
Some of the lots are smaller than the lot sizes required by the town's zoning ordinance and the APA regulations, but they will share about four acres of common area to compensate for it, according to the proposal. The APA will have jurisdiction on the waterfront portion of the land, but because the other half of the development has only nine lots, it is not in the APA's hands. The APA only has jurisdiction in subdivisions often or more.
There are seven separate parts to the complex, most of which are connected — some by covered walkways, and others share common walls.
Dennis Phillips, Shutze's Glens Falls attorney, said it was up to the planning board to determine if the present building could be classified as individual buildings, called a "cluster development."
The Wenonah people said they would improve the sewer system by pumping the refuse into a large septic tank. The system currently in use involves treatment of the waste. The waste then leeches through the ground, and eventually ends up in the lake.
Phillips also said that if winter use is desired, the existing water system in the lodge, which is supplied from above-ground sources, would not be usable. Wells could be dug at each site for year-round use.
Each lot in the new part of the development across the road from the lake would have its own well and septic system.
The entire development would be run by a homeowners' association. It would use collected dues to maintain the common area, which includes a beach, the existing tennis courts, and the community driveways.
There is a road to the existing lodge from Panther Mountain Road which would be maintained. Easements would be provided to let people cross other lots to reach their own.
Major Day, a member of the lake association, said he opposed the project because of the potential for pollution.
"The camp will be overdeveloped," he said. "You'll be polluting the lake with gas and oil from boats and with too many people."
Thomas Seymour, chairman of the planning board, gave the public until Dec. 21 to file written statements for or against the project with the board.
The camp, built in 1915 by Jules Bache, is one of the more prominent Great Camps on the Upper Saranac Lake. It housed many guests, including statesmen, captains of industry and celebrities. One of the cottages serves as a sort of shrine to the Ziegfield Follies Girls who vacationed at the camp often.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 29, 1988
Board makes suggestions for Wenonah subdivision
By PATRICK KEYES
SARANAC LAKE — Bans are moving forward on the subdivision of the Wenonah Lodge, one of the "Great Camps" on Upper Saranac Lake.
At a work session with the Harrietstown Planning Board Wednesday, the developers were given suggestions on how to improve the subdivision proposal. The Planning Board will give a preliminary decision on it by Jan. 31.
The main topics of concern were lot configurations and zoning classifications for the existing camp, which the board is unsure of. It is waiting for attorney James Maher to determine if the board can say the camp already exists as separate homes and not a group of buildings ("cluster development").
Right now, the land is one lot, seven buildings. The developers want to have the property classified as seven separate buildings. The plans would change the property from a summer resort to single family homes.
Dr. Schutze, a Glens Falls dentist, heads the corporation which bought the camp in April for $1.8 million.
The board also discussed the size of the lots in the part of the subdivision along the water. There are a few divided lots there that the board agreed should be re-drawn and possibly combined.
Maurice Otis, a member of the board, suggested combining the two smallest lots on each side of the main house. He said the two buildings on the east side, formerly the servants quarters and laundry building, are in disrepair and need extensive renovations before they are liveable. One of the buildings might even have to be torn down.
Ed Talbot, the town's building and zoning code enforcement officer, said there are a few buildings which would not pass occupancy inspections in their present conditions.
These places need repairs," William Kinville, a member of the board said. "A lot of money is going to have to be spent there."
Jack Delehanty, an attorney for the developer, said that eventually all repairs would be regulated by the homeowners' association to be established in the community there.
Other concerns of the board are in the lack of access to the waterfront properties. There is space provided, Delehanty said, but the roads are not clearly defined on the plot maps. The board wants to have those accesses shown more clearly so people know what they would be getting when the properties go on the market.
"We don't care if they're roads or not," said Thomas Seymour, chairman of the planning board. "We just want there to be ways for people to get in and out if they have to."
It was also mentioned that there were 28 letters received from members of the Upper Saranac Lake Association protesting the project for what the board called "misinformed" reasons.
The chief areas of complaint are on sewer systems, boats on the lake and the number of lots in the subdivision.
Press-Republican, April 22, 1990
Wenonah subdivision approval leads to lawsuit
SARANAC LAKE - The Upper Saranac Lake Association is taking the Harrietstown Planning Board to court, charging that planners "gave away the store" in recently approving an 18-lot subdivision of the historic Wenonah Lodge.
The association filed an Article 78 proceeding in State Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the planning board's March 14 approval of an application made by the Wenonah Lodge Corp. The corporation, headed by Dr. John Schutse. a Glens Falls dentist, got the go-ahead to create eight residential lots on nearly 13 acres of land, with one common area for recreational purposes, east of county Route 45, and for nine residential lots west of the route.
The Upper Saranac Lake Association, which serves as a watchdog of development on the lake, has adamantly opposed the subdivision since it was first proposed in late 1988. The plans were revised and cleared by the state Department of Health and Adirondack Park Agency before being finally approved by the town planning board.
The association maintains in court papers that Upper Saranac Lake is a "family lake" consisting of mostly single-family homes. Introducing the subdivision will endanger the quality of life and environment of the lake, the association charges. Specifically, it claims that the subdivision is crowded into the 54 acre property and that it will lead to a dangerous increase in boat traffic.
Movement to secede
The court papers note that an "us-versus-them" mentality has prevailed between association officials and town planners since the start of the review process. The association points to minutes of meetings in which the Wenonah developers are referred to by their first names "in almost every instance" as evidence of a close relationship with the planning board.
The association says there is a "prevailing belief by its members that the planning board "does not care or understand what happens to Upper Saranac Lake." The 350-member group goes so far as to say in court papers that there is an "active movement" to secede the lake from the town of Harrietstown and annex it to the town of Santa Clara, so zoning and planning are administered by people who have a direct concern for the lake.
The association claims that the planning board "gave away the store" and disregarded its own zoning laws by issuing an unconditional permit.
No comment from board
The group charges: "The bottom line is that out-of-town developers who are on a first-name basis with the planning board but have no permanent connection or concern for their neighbors, will profit greatly and sometime in the future, after the developers have sold the last lot and left town, someone, probably a child, is going to get killed ... The fabric of Upper Saranac Lake is being destroyed and the planning board clearly does not cars.''
Thomas Seymour, chairman of the planning board, declined comment on the charges, saying it will be for a court to address. "We tried to treat everybody fairly," he said.
The Wenonah is considered one of the Adirondack "Great Camps" on Upper Saranac Lake. It was sold to Schutze and a group of investors by Grayce Palanzo. who had owned the rustic complex since 1953.
The camp was built in 1915 by Jules Bache, head of the Bache Inc. brokerage firm and vice president of Dome Mines Inc. The main lodge, hotel and cottages have housed vacationing visitors, including heads of state and industry, and stars of stage and screen, including the girls of the Ziegfeld Follies.
Movement to secede
While the Wenonah subdivision is in litigation, another Upper Saranac Lake project is being proposed. The Wawbeek Realty Corp. is applying to subdivide 36 acres of the former Wawbeek Inn off Route 30 into eight lots, five of which would be waterfront. The lots containing the lodge and restaurant of the inn would be converted to residences. The planning board has classified the application as a major subdivision and is waiting for preliminary maps to be filed before a bearing is scheduled.
New Era illustrated Magazine,
One of the most attractive camps is Winona, where Jules Bache spends most of his summers. It consists of half a dozen buildings of rustic design, which make a fine show from the lower end of the lake.
The mention of the Ziegfeld Follies in the recent Letters From the Porch, got me thinking about a past experience. Wenonah Lodge, the home Julius Bache built on Upper Saranac Lake, was owned for quite a while by a woman named Grayce Palanzo (a retired teacher from Yonkers) who ran a little known bar in the old “playhouse” of Wenonah. Grayce was under 5’ tall but had the voice of a marine drill sergeant. Ginny and I frequented that place often and Grayce, who would just as likely throw you out as pour you a drink, for some reason took liking to me. One day she took us on a tour of the main house which she had run for a while as a small hotel. On the walls were framed photos of the women of the Ziegfeld Follies who Bache apparently had invited to his place for big parties. It would be interesting to know more about these social events on the lake.
-- Al Schwartz, August, 2020