I have long been inspired by the architecture of William West Durant, Robert H. Robertson and others that designed and built the Adirondack camps in the late 1800’s. When I started Bare Bones Studio I wanted to design furniture that was inspired by nature but not of a massive heavy scale and not of the “North Woods theme”. I wanted to design functional pieces using elements from the surrounding forest. I came across a book called “Great Camps of the Adirondacks”. It was a historical documentation of the camps and their architects. In 1998 I traveled to the Adirondacks in search of the camps that could be seen. I was able to visit Sagamore, and White Pine Camp. I was headed out when I was told about Santanoni and that if I wanted to take the 5 mile hike in I could probably get permission to see it. I was unfortunately out of time to make the connections.
These camps continue to be an inspiration to my furniture and architectural designs. It is unfortunate that many of these camps have not survived due to the cost of maintaining them. There are some left to be enjoyed and treasured.
Camp Pine Knot, considered to be the first camp was started in 1879 by William West Durant. It was sold to railroad magnate Collis P Hunington in 1895. After his death the camp stood vacant for almost a half century. It was donated with it’s original 201 acres and all the historic buildings by the family. It was donated to the Suny Courtland College. Today it is on the National Historic Registry and I believe remains in their hands.
Camp Sagamore is a camp I visited. It was started in 1896 also by Durant. Sagamore’s main lodge is considered one of the most impressive Great Camp buildings. It is 3 1/2 stories and the main floor is 76 feet by 104 feet. It is not the building shown in this photo. It was sold to Alfred G Vanderbilt. In 1954 his widow donated it to Syracuse University. Today Sagamore is operated as a resort and offers many programs that you can register for.
Camp Santanoni built in 1888 and designed by Robert H. Robertson was sited on over 10,000 acres. Today after almost being razed the camp is in the hands of the state of New York and is the Santanoni Preserve. Notice the detail of vertical logs as wainscoting and the extensive use of birch bark on the upper walls and ceiling. The state of New York is in the process of slowly preserving the camp. I would love to visit this camp and perhaps even work on the restoration. It is still a 5 mile hike in.
Kamp Kill Kare also built by Durant in 1898 on 1000 acres on Sumner Lake. It was built as a rustic hunting camp and purchased by New York state Lieutenant Governor Timothy Woodruff. It was developed into a luxurious estate and renamed Kora Lake after his wife Cora. It is now operated as a resort as Kora Lake.
Here are just a few examples of some of my designs based on the Great Camps. My first bed design that I called the “Forest Bed” was directly based on the one in Kamp Kill Kare. That bed is shown in the above photos. One is an old photo and one as it looks now. The “Forest Bed” now resides in a log home on White Iron Lake, complete with a bird perched in it’s branches.
The railing in the foyer of a lake home I designed is based on Adirondack twig detailing.
The dining room buffet is designed using birch bark insets with log corners and small twigs surrounding the birch bark panels.
This is such a small part of all the information and history about the Great Camp era and the camps that still remain today. I have enjoyed sharing this information with you and a very few of my designs.