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


new rw2

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,


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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