Tag Archives: adirondack league club

The Blue Crystal Water of Jock’s Lake . Wicks & Rabbit Wild

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“The blue crystal water of Jock’s Lake stretched before them, changing far off where the sun fell sparkling on it, into a golden green; and again, to a deeper blue, as it touched the rocky rim of the farther shore…”

William S. Wicks, “Rabbitwild – a Shelter in the Wilderness”

Photo courtesy of CNYIS, Inc

Rabbit Wild . It Started with a Shanty . Back to Nature 1897

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Back to “Rabbitwild” the sweet little book written by Wicks for his little daughter Ruth, age 12 in 1896. There are a few pages above from Chapter 6 … The boys and their father are in the woods, they have met up with Uncle Jock who will be instrumental in getting the cottage built up from stone & timber on the land to the place called “Rabbit Wild” … a Shelter in the Wilderness built by Fred & Hartley Langdon from their Father’s Plans, Uncle Jock Helping.

The more I read and learn about Wicks, his life, family and work, the more I am able to pick up clues in the book as to people, places, and references throughout. The cottage “Rabbit Wild” had been designed and built by Wicks on Honnedaga Lake on a tract of land purchased in 1892 as part of the Adirondack League Club. The lake was formerly known as Jock’s Lake, so real or fictitious, I’ll bet there was a character of some Adirondack lineage that assisted with building the cottage and so we have – Uncle Jock.

During this time, John Albright of The Albright Gallery fame had his camp designed and built by E.B. Green on Wilmurt Lake, a site that was quite far from this area in the Adirondacks. However, I have not found any remnant of information on the Albright camp on Wilmurt Lake. But John Albright’s son was named Langdon – and so here is a reference to that name, and pictured as the architect in this story. The firm of Green & Wicks had designed the residence of Langdon Albright on the estate grounds of John Albright in Buffalo.

At some point, I wonder if I’ll find the “Fred” and “Hartley” in this story – for sure they are the fictional counterparts of the Wicks’ girls Ruth and Grace, but who, I wonder?

In Chapter 6, the boys, their father and Uncle Jock set out to build a shanty to provide shelter as they begin the process of building Rabbit Wild:

“Well”, cried Hartley, “we’ve got to build a shanty, haven’t we?’

“Where shall we build it?” asked Mr. Langdon, turning to Jock.

“Right here, back of this ‘ere fire; see the two trees? That’s why we fixed our fire where we did, so we’d have it right at the entrance, to keep away the skeeters, and warm us a leetle at night. I’ll help ye make a start.”

“One of you boys kin cut down that spruce”, pointing to a tree about five inches in diameter, “trim all the leetle branches off, an’ cut it into two stcks eleven feet long, or about four paces. You, Mr. Hartley, kin clear the space, cut down the witch-hoople, an’ burn all the brush.” …

This camp was to built over the summer as the boys started out on their fourth of July weekend to begin this adventure in the woods. Uncle Jock is on site most of the time as father returns to his work in the city. All of the precise elements of building this camp are included in the book. If someone wanted to retrace the methods and practices of building this camp, it could be accomplished. I love that …

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Photographs of Rabbit Wild and Wicks with little Ruth are courtesy of Elizabeth Hopkins Wittemann,

Great Granddaughter of William S. Wicks

Remembering Wicks and bringing dreams of a wild retreat to life.

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Wicks . the Canadian Connection & the lost Swiss Chalets

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Wicks . the Canadian Connection & the lost Swiss Chalets

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Postcards from Canada . Wicks collection . Summer & Fall of 1906 to Ruth . Grand Trunk Railway System Series . Lake Temagami . Lady Evelyn River. Muskoka Lakes District . St. Lawrence River . 1000 Islands the Admiralty Group.

I have been looking for the three-story swiss chalets designed by Wicks in the Georgian Bay region of Canada as referenced in the article written by Russel Roberts  … not even a smidge of a hint. I am guessing that the series of postcards above are the result of the trip either to or from Canada as Wicks would have traveled to see the site for the project.

Three postcards are addressed to Ruth’s Buffalo address (Fall) and two are addressed to the Adirondack League Club in care of the Lashers (Mr. Hazard Lasher died 3 years earlier, at just 48 years old). Mrs. Lasher and her two sons continued to stay at the Cottage for the summer. Ruth was 26 years old, the boys may have been about the same age, I am not sure.

One postcard is written by Ruth’s mother so Wicks was traveling with his wife on the excursion. I recognize Wicks handwriting on the others, he rarely sends a message. Emma is staying with Walter, having delightful rides on the river in his launch., and that is the end of the chapter on the Canadian connection.

And so the story of the Canadian Swiss chalets remain a mystery.

The Adirondack camps were closed and secured for the winter, buttoned up with the promise of Spring nothing more than that of an elusive lover with wet spring snow hugging the ground incessantly. Emma returned to Rubble Manor in Barneveld, running the household, holding down the fort, I know so little about her. Wicks returned to the city continuing his work with EB Green, the plethora of commissions keeping  the firm humming. My Grandmother, Ruth. Ruth’s occupation seems to be travel, tennis and  attending conscientious social clubs. But, that is what I surmise. After all of the Ivy League education, I am not aware of a “paid”position that she held in her lifetime, however, she managed the family property beutifully when her father died.

It looks like this postcard was sent from the Green & Wicks New York State Fairgrounds right after Ruth left the Adirondacks. It was sent by  Ruth to her mother in Barneveld and it is rather sweet. She is attending the Fair in Syracuse with friends and may be there for a while. The card is signed Al & Ruth and I wonder if Al might have been one of the Lasher boys, and if the two had traveled to the fair from camp together. There was word that someone had killed a buck  – she is asking her mother to please send her some venison, even if it is just a small amount… having a fine old time…gay and festive town ….wish you were here.

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Remembering Ruth, I think of her as a sophisticated and smart young woman walking in a society of the very accomplished, her soul and heart firmly entrenched in the natural earthy beauty and spirit of the country, and the honesty it brings forth….every girl needs a father like Wicks.

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Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hopkins Wittemann, Great Granddaughter of Wicks

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The Harsh Reality of the Idyllic Adirondack League Lifestyle . early 1900

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Wicks Design . Wardell Camp & Interior . 1910 . Adirondack League Club .

Photo courtesy of the Adirondack Museum

The article by Russel Roberts referenced in the previous post is interesting to me as it names names, dates and places of specific architectural structures designed by Wicks forming the visual identity of the Adirondack League Club including the family Cottage: Rabbit Wild.

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Rabbit Wild . Photo courtesy of Wicks’ Great granddaughter Elizabeth Hopkins Wittemann 

I have a number of family archive postcards sent to my Grandmother, Ruth, Wicks’ daughter in care of the Lashers at Honnedaga Lake, most dates are either 1908 or 1909. Because Rabbit Wild was on the market and for sale in 1900, I am not sure if Ruth stayed with the Lashers because Rabbit Wild was sold, or lost to fire – Ruth would have been about 24 years old at the time. Wicks designed the Lasher Camp, so I am sure it felt like home. The Lasher Camp was supposed to be quite similar to Rabbit Wild and by way of the article written by Russell Roberts, it sounds like the Lasher camp is still standing..

Mr. Hazard Lasher became a member of the Adirondack League Club in 1901, and was Vice President of the League in 1905. As I was looking to find out more about Hazard Lasher, I discovered he was part of a search party for the missing Dr. Griffith in 1904, of the Adirondack League Club and owner of a Wicks designed cottage. An idyllic life is not without repercussions and reality of the unforgiving force of nature natural to the Adirondack Mountains which will have its way. Both Mr. Lasher and Dr. Griffith died prematurely because of it.

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“Buffalo Herald” . Booneville . New York . Thursday . June 2 . 1904

Dr. Griffith Drowned. Lost his Life in Honnega Lake in the Adirondacks . Superintendent of Utica Public Schools

In part: “His boat upset while he was out on the lake fishing – made a gallant struggle to reach shore – Body recovered after a long search … Dr. Griffith was an ardent lover of nature and was in the habit of visiting the Adirondack region for rest and recreation …. Three years ago he joined the Adirondack League club and (?) erected a cottage on the western shore of Honnedaga lake at the foot not far from the outlet. On Saturday, May 11th accompanied by his wife and youngest son went to the lake and opened their summer home. … Dr. Griffith started out from camp at 10:00 am in a light rowboat to fish for trout … He did not return …. a little after 6:00 pm Mrs. Griffith rowed over to the Adirondack League Club House about a mile distant to ask the men to … in quest of him. ….on her way she noticed an empty skiff on the shoreline … the empty boat … belonged to Dr. Griffith … at 4:00 pm on Monday the body was found in about 20 feet of water and some 20 rods from shore …”

Dr. Griffith’s camp was built in 1902 and he died in 1904, it looks like his birth date is 1858 so he was just 48 years old. Very sad. I wonder if Mrs, Griffith continued to keep the camp open in the summer? I would have difficulty seeing the beauty of this wild and unforgiving place, I would preserve it for my child, but would find no joy in spending time at “the League”.

Mr. Hazard Lasher also met an early demise:

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“The New York Times” . February 21, 1906 . Funeral Instead of Dinner

Friends Who Were to be Mr. Lasher’s Guests will Attend

Hazard Lasher. President of the Midwood Club, and one of the best-known residents of Flatbush, died on Monday night at his home, 95 east Eighteenth Street, Brooklyn. On Thursday night last Mr. Lasher presided at a dinner in the Midwood Club, at which Melville E. Stone, General manager of the Associated Press, was a speaker. On his way home he caught a cold which later developed into Pneumonia. Mr. Lasher had arranged to give a dinner to-morrow night and among his guests were to have been Dr. George F. Lazarus and the Rev. t.j. Jackson, rector of st. Paul’s church. Dr. Lazarus attended Mr. Lasher in his last illness and Mr. Jackson instead  of dining with Mr. Lasher, will officiate to-morrow at his funeral. Mr. Lasher was born at Rondout, N.Y., in 1858. he was the head of the wholesale paper firm of Lasher & Lathrop, Incorporated, at 18 Beekman Street. He was Vice President of the Paper association of New york and of the Adirondack League. He leaves a widow and two sons.

The Lasher Camp was designed and built in 1901 or thereabouts, Hazard Lasher died just 5 years later in 1906, he was only 48 years old.

Wicks made it to age 63.

Remembering Wicks, his work and vision and to make each moment count, because it can be over – just – like – that ….

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Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hopkins Wittemann, Great Granddaughter of William Sydney Wicks

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The Wildly Beautiful Adirondack Lifestyle Designed by Wicks . 1892-1908

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The Wildly Beautiful Adirondack Lifestyle Designed by Wicks . 1892-1908

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Postcards of the Adirondack Region from the Wicks Collection . 1908 & 1909

Between 1892 and about 1908 or 1909 William S. Wicks was fully engaged with the design of camps in the Adirondacks, the majority within the Adirondack League Club. As one of the first land owners of the preserve in 1892, Wicks was naturally attuned and devoted to land preservation and management with natural design in mind. Wicks loved life in the woods, the rugged landscape, fresh cold streams, pristine lakes and the design of well planned buildings ready to take shape. The woodland community of naturally conscientious trailblazers spoke to his inner natural voice and spirit, far from the hustle of a city taking shape in Buffalo, with many commissions of Green & Wicks architecture in process.

According to the article written by Russel Roberts shown below, Wicks designed 23 cabins, cottages, lodges, and hunting camps during this time frame which have been verified including the Adirondack League Club’s Mountain Lodge. Somehow, the number of references and books I have seen are not aware of the extent of his work, which is something to think about since he loved the environment enough to be a Charter Member of the Adirondack League Club for 30 years. It would be interesting to find out if records from the Adirondack League Club for this time period have been saved, but they are a rather closed community, and not easy to contact.

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Photos of the structures are rare. They are not as well-known or publicized as the Buffalo buildings. I found the three images below on the Adirondack Museum website which are quite good. I was so happy to see the interior of the Wardell camp, I think it is even nicer than I what I had imagined:

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Interior D.W. Wardell Camp, Honnedaga Lake, 1910, Wicks Camp Interior

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D.W Wardell camp, View from Honnedaga Lake, Wicks Camp, 1910

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Wicks Camp, Photo Postcard, on second Stillwater of West Canada Creek, Adirondack League Club, Log Cabin with porch, 1940

Remembering Wicks and wondering – when did he sleep?

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Rabbitwild for Sale 1900 & Barneveld for Sale 70 years later …

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Rabbitwild – For Sale – July 1900

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And so, I have found that Wicks was looking for a buyer for Rabbitwild in the July, 1900  issue of “Recreation”.  A nice little article written by Russel Roberts of Barneveld in the “Adirondack Architectural Heritage” Newsletter, Volume 6, Number 2, of December 1997 provides a nice rendering of Rabbitwild as well as great information on the Wicks Adirondack story … but according to the advertisement in “Recreation” Rabbitwild was built in 1897.

I won’t lie – I am stunned by the ad, check it out:

new rw4After 3 years the cottage was for sale at 3/4 of the value? At this time the Green & Wicks Architectural firm was in full throttle with the Buffalo Pan Am Expo developing the Electricity & Machinery Buildings, the Albright Art Gallery, development of the Buffalo Parkside residential community  along with another half-dozen important commissions. Ruth was sixteen years old attending the Elmwood School, also known as the Buffalo Seminary – a private non sectarian girls prep school, I assume with her  little sister Grace, right behind her.

But 3/4 of cost? It all looks rather desperate – it had to be a cash flow problem. It would be interesting to know the outcome of the ad, if the property sold, who purchased it and when the fire occurred.

Years ago when I asked about the loss of the Adirondack property and Rubble Manor in Barneveld, my mother told me that the family was traditionally land rich, but cash poor. But my Grandmother held on to 30 acres, a farm, fish hatchery, lodge and cottage in Barneveld to pass on to her 3 children. She was a conscientious custodian of a property that was left to her to pass on to the family. Ultimately in my lineage, just one member of the family inherited property, my brother and first-born male. My mother could have learned from her mother, but that is history.

Plus, by the evidence of expenditures, Wicks seemed very comfortable spending money (another inherited trait, without the deep resources of the good Wicks name). He must have over extended himself, maintaining three households, private education, social clubs, sports activities, fish hatcheries and European travel take its toll over time … even without the tax structure we endure now.

In truth, my oldest brother did not inherit the property – my mother sold it to him in the 70’s. Maybe she was taking the Wicks cue, I don’t know. She sold my brother 10 acres, including the remnants of the fish hatchery, and a cottage designed by Wicks for $25,000. My brother is 11 years older than me and wanted the property established in his name before the day of his wedding, which he accomplished. He married rather late in life and even though I was young, at the time I did not think I had anything to worry about – a (mistakenly) common theme in my life. I have never seen a more interesting dynamic between my brother and mother before or since. If I were to go into detail, it would be quite embarrassing for him, and that accomplishes nothing.

I was a very young single mother struggling, managing somehow to get my first degree, with designs on a California dreamin’ life and my other brother who is a year younger than brother one, was busy studying for his PhD at Duke University. We didn’t have a chance in all honesty, Brother One never finished college, but how brilliant!

Later in life, the decision by my mother was one she regretted, with a sad ending.  When she died, my mother was returned to Barneveld with a service at the Unitarian Church, which was hauntingly beautiful. Her mother and Grandfather had services at the same historic Unitarian church in Barneveld. She is buried in the Evergreen cemetery in Barneveld with one of her brothers, Singerly, mother Ruth, and Grandfather William S Wicks.

But, the property is beautiful. It takes unwavering dedication to preserve, protect and improve a natural environment that will have its way without the unconditional love and commitment of its custodian which without doubt my brother has accomplished.

I still own a little sliver of the land, but know I will never see it.

We are all getting older, in time the property will be held by the next generation – in whose hands, I wonder? Will more family members become estranged because of it? Yes, I’m pretty sure. We’re good at that.

Remembering Wicks, his good sense and intentions, his mind on the drawing board but his soul in the woods,

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This photo of my Grandmother little Ruth Wicks with her father Architect William S Wicks is courtesy of Elizabeth Hopkins Wittemann, Granddaughter of Grace Wicks, Ruth’s little sister.

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Back to Rabbitwild . A Shelter in the Wilderness

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Little Ruth Wicks & her Papa William S. Wicks

I love this sweet photo, so natural and good. All of the photos that I have or have seen were taken by professional photographers I think, but not this one, which I adore. I wonder where they are, the natural background doesn’t have the look of Victorian Buffalo, maybe they were in Barneveld or the Adirondacks.  Ruth looks like she is about four years old, so the year should be around 1888. The origin of this photo is that of  Elizabeth Hopkins Wittemann, granddaughter of Grace Wicks, Ruth’s sister and I am so happy to have found her and photos that I have never seen before.

Maybe Ruth & her Papa  are on the site of Rabbitwild …. the timeline looks right:

Adirondack League Club Early History Transcribed in 2009 by Town of Webb Historian Peg Masters

1886 – Utica Weekly Herald, “Rod and Gun,” November 9, 1886, p.12

“Black bears are unusually numerous in the Adirondack region this fall. Charles A Nicholson of Utica, W.S. Wicks of Trenton and Howard Brown of Brookline, Mass. are about to erect a handsome and commodious log camp at Big Rock Bay, Jock’s Lake. A.D. Barber, Jr., of this city has erected the frame for his new hotel on Jock’s Lake in the North Woods. The building will be 40X60 feet in size. Mr. Barber and his guests have killed 27 deer and near the lake this fall…”

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The drawing above is of “Rabbitwild” by William S Wicks found in his unpublished book of the same name for little Ruth. I am sure this is the cottage that was ultimately built on the site surveyed by Wicks and Brown in the above article, which I love.

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rabbitwild

Until recently I did not know that Rabbitwild existed. Through various sources I learned that the idea of Rabbitwild was not just a story, the cottage existed but was lost to fire. Through my correspondence with Grace’s granddaughter, Elizabeth I was beyond amazed when I learned that she had photographs of Rabbitwild – shown here.  These photographs take my breath away … I have looked at the drawings so many times trying to visualize what it must have looked like in the woods overlooking the lake … and here it is.  I am so thankful to Elizabeth for sharing these photos. Now I am slightly obsessed with the thought of how the interior might have looked … which will have to be left to the imagination … I am thinking hand-made twig furniture, oriental rugs, big rustic table oil lamps and fur blankets.

Before the McMansions of the Cottage genre camps, then and now, camps were meant to be rustic comfortable getaways. I like an excerpt from “Adirondack Camps: Homes away from Home 1850-1950″ by Craig Gilborn, that describes the “life” best: ” … camps are old clothes, fishing poles, wooden boats, creaky buildings, moss on the roof, and critters under the porch …”

I wonder when the cottage burned and how it happened.  Was it a random, unfortunate event when no one was on site? Lightning? Were they there? Was it a chimney, oil lamp or kitchen fire with no way to extinguish it, and they had to see it burn? There is nothing worse. What season was it? They never rebuilt, why? What happened to the land? Was it sold before Wicks died, or after? I think of this cottage as Ruth’s cottage – did she feel this way too? How old was she at the time? Was she traveling? What were her thoughts?

So many questions, and no way of knowing the answers really.

Maybe at this point in Wicks life, some projects were being eliminated.  He was rather young when he died at 63, but somehow I think you know, you just naturally know. At the time prior to his death he was active in running his farms, exploring the scientific propagation of brook trout that he raised on his preserve in the foot hills of the Adirondacks (Barneveld), and was actively working on a plan for the development of a civic center for Buffalo.

Maybe the Adirondack Cottage chapter had simply been closed, even though he was a charter member of the Adirondack League Club, and identified himself closely with it for  his last thirty years – that is love.

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Remembering my Great Grandfather Wicks, my Grandmother Ruth, the dream of Rabbitwild

& their beautifully wild and civilized life in the woods.

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