William L. Coulter, 1896,
photograph by George W. Baldwin
Courtesy of the Adirondack Experience
Baldwin House A brick at the Saranac Laboratory has been dedicated in the name of William L. Coulter by Mary B. Hotaling. Born: 1865

Died: 1907

Married: Violet Rohe

Children: William, Violet, Bruce, Veronica, and Alcida

William Lincoln Coulter was the first successful architect to reside in, and establish a practice in, the central Adirondacks. He came to Saranac Lake in the spring of 1896 in an effort to cure his tuberculosis, and stayed to design some of the finest Adirondack Great Camps and Cure Cottages in the area. Among the camps he designed were Knollwood Club, Camp Eagle Island and Prospect Point Camp; Eagle Island has been designated a National Historic Landmark. In Saranac Lake, in 1903, he designed a house at 147 Park Avenue for Thomas Bailey Aldrich, editor of the Atlantic Monthly, that wits dubbed "The Porcupine" because it had so many fine points and belonged to a "quill driver".

Coulter was born in Norwich, Connecticut to William and Hanna Coulter. He worked in an architect's office in New York City starting at 16, while a night student at Cooper Institute. When he arrived in Saranac Lake in 1896, he had fifteen years experience in architectural work. His firm, Renwick, Aspinwall and Renwick, sent him north for his health and to help James Lawrence Aspinwall, cousin of Dr. Edward L. Trudeau, design a new Administration Building for the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium that Trudeau had started in 1884. He was thirty-one, one of the few TB patients arriving in Saranac Lake with a job.

The next year, he left the Renwick firm, and opened his own office. He designed a number of houses in Highland Park and on Helen Hill, and he built a business block on Main Street for his offices. He also built churches, the Baker Chapel at the Sanatorium, the Saint Regis Presbyterian Church at Keese Mill, and the St. Eustace and St. Hubert's churches in Lake Placid. He also designed four new cottages at the Sanitarium, and the Childs Infirmary.

Coulter designed Swiss chalet-style Moss Ledge and rustic Camp Pinebrook on Upper Saranac Lake, the latter for New York Governor Levi P. Morton, and Knollwood Club on Lower Saranac Lake. According to a 1900 newspaper account, his plans had generated more than $600,000 worth of work and kept an "army of workmen" busy.

In 1902, he hired Max Westhoff, an experienced architect who soon became his partner. With Westhoff, he produced a number of homes in Saranac Lake and lake camps in the Adirondacks along with two in New Hampshire; he also worked on additions to Paul Smith's Hotel and the Lake Placid Club. Prospect Point Camp, on Upper Saranac Lake was built for Adolph Lewisohn, for whom they also designed a house in Ardsley, New York and another dwelling in the city. 1

Coulter died of TB on October 28, 1907, at age forty-two. His wife, Violet, also had tuberculosis; she died in 1910.


Saint Regis Presbyterian Church, Keese Mill Prospect Point Camp


Camp Eagle Island Knollwood Club


The Coulter Cottage 147 Park Avenue, called The Porcupine because it had so many fine points. It is presently a Bed and Breakfast.



1. This article appeared originally on Wikipedia as William L. Coulter; its edit history there reflects its authorship. It is licensed under the GDFL.