Most people that come to the Adirondacks are intrigued and inspired by the rugged yet majestic architectural style that can be found on many historic properties on and around Lake George.
This style is commonly referred to as Adirondack Architecture. This style, like the famous Adirondack chairs, has been imitated and brought to many parts of the world.
THE ORIGINS OF ADIRONDACK ARCHITECTURE
The origins of this unique style go back to the Great Camps that the rich and famous of the past would build as mountain retreats to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life.
The camps were very influenced by Swiss chalet architecture. They were typically built with local building materials, such as split, peeled or whole logs, natural stones (granite fieldstone being among my favorites). Rocks, bark, roots and burls were masterfully used on these buildings.
The result was the creation of intriguing and rustic atmospheres in these great camps. Not only that, but they saved on building costs, back then moving materials in from afar was a very costly thing.
Another common feature of Adirondack architecture is the massive stone fireplaces that were usually but in huge “great rooms”. A great room is basically a huge room for entertaining. It usually includes a huge fireplace and lots of windows with great views of the surrounding mountains and/or lakes.
Interior decorations usually included mounted trophies of local fish and wild game, American Indian artifacts and for some reason Japanese screens and fans were also very commonly used.
TOURS THAT YOU MIGHT ENJOY
Many enjoy simply driving around and looking at some of the grand houses in the area. This is a favorite pastime in the autumn when it can be accompanied by leaf peeping. It is also fun to see the houses built along the shores of Lake George by boat.
There are some historic buildings and camps in the area that can be visited and toured.
By far my favorite is the Great Camp Sagamore, not to be confused with the Sagamore Hotel in Bolton Landing.
Camp Sagamore was built by none less than the Vanderbilt’s themselves as a family mountain retreat. We all know that the Vanderbilt family didn’t do anything small and this camp was no exception.
The camp is about an hour and a half from Lake George, but the drive in itself is worth it. If you are on motorcycles it makes a great day trip!
You can find information about the property and tours at their website: greatcampsagamore.org.
Not far from Camp Sagamore is another great camp to visit: the Santanoni, which is one of the most outstanding historic examples of Adirondack architecture.
The property is open year-round, however, in the winter tours are only available on weekends. During the week you can still take a self guided tour. It is a favorite winter destination for snowshoers and cross country skiers.
It is a little bit closer to Lake George and usually only takes about an hour to get to. Many visitors decide to visit both sites on the same day trip.
If you are staying in Lake George and want somewhere closer you may want to take a ride down “Millionaires Row”. By boat is a great way to see the majestic mansions that line the western shore of Lake George between the village and Bolton Landing.
As of the time of writing one of my favorite ones is for sale. The price is a little high for me, but it doesn’t hurt to dream ;-). This stunning Tudor Revival, built in 1895, is one of the original homes from the early-20th-century Millionaires’ Row. It was designed by the prominent architects Ludlow and Peabody (architects of the Vanderbilt University).
A fascinating part of Adirondack architecture are the many boathouses that can be found on the lakes in the Adirondacks. The original ones were built as garages to keep the boats out of the weather, however, they later started to build rooms, apartments and even houses above them!
The read our article on houseboats CLICK HERE.
When they hear “boathouse” some think of a boat that is a house, these aren’t very common in the area because of the long winters, however, they are possible. Below is an interesting video about a “tiny house” that was built on a boat in Canada, even farther North than the Adirondacks:
I don’t know about you, but I am fascinated with what are now called “tiny-houses”. My dream is to build one, not on a trailer, but on a small catamaran! …I’ll keep you posted when I finally start this project.
A tiny-house is roughly defined as a house that is less than 1,000 square ft, although most authentic tiny-houses don’t surpass 500 square ft. The idea of downsizing, simplifying and concentrating on the important things in life is very appealing to most of us and tiny-homes seem to offer the solution. If this appeals to you check out these TINY-HOUSE PLANS
Of course tiny house living requires quite a bit of imagination! Living in most Italian cities —where spaces are tight— one learns to make good use of every centimeter available. The following video is a great example of Italian innovation that make good use of space, of course the outside cabinet can be made rustic, or any other style you want.
I was surprised to see that there are many forms of tiny houses from the past, like the one below. The house in this picture can be found in downtown Dallas among modern skyscrapers, it was built by an settler in the area long before Dallas was even a city!
RUSTIC MOUNTAIN ARCHITECTURE
Of course you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy all Adirondack architecture. Modern Adirondack architecture uses a lot of the characteristics of the great camps, like the rustic feel and the use of “mountain” materials, but in a much more realistic setting.
If you want to some nice examples of Adirondack Architecture the following site is nice: Adirondack Architecture.
ROMEO & GIULIETTA’S HIDEAWAY
Our B&B/Inn was built in the 1920’s, it is a nice example of the architecture of its’ period. We are still in the process of remodeling it. We accented the original exterior stucco with stone facade in the front and will soon be adding a balcony. We have also started to restore the original hardwood floors in the main house.
We have tried to add a rustic Italian flavor to the property. If you are in the area feel free to stop in and see us!