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DEC Issues Draft Unit Management Plan To Protect and Restore Camp Santanoni Historic Area

May 15th, 2015 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Historic Great Camp is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve – Public Meeting Scheduled for May 28 in Newcomb

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released an updated draft unit management plan (UMP) for the Camp Santanoni Historic Area to restore and maintain the historic site, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

“The proposals in the draft management plan will allow DEC and its partners to better restore, maintain and protect this amazing historic area so future generations can enjoy it,” said Commissioner Martens. “Camp Santanoni provides insight into the history and culture of the Adirondacks. A variety of outdoor recreational opportunities for people of all abilities are also available.”

A public meeting will be held on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at the Newcomb Volunteer Fire Department, Route 28N (next to Town Hall), in Newcomb, NY. The meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to learn more on the proposed management actions in draft UMP and to provide comment on the proposals.

Camp Santanoni
(Panoramio – Photo of Camp Santanoni)

The DEC will accept comments on the draft UMP until June 12, 2015. The meeting facility is wheelchair accessible. Please provide any requests for specific accommodation to 518-897-1248 at least two weeks in advance.

The 32-acre historic area consists of three main areas of the camp and the old carriage road (Newcomb Lake Road) that connects them:

  • The Gate Lodge Complex includes a stone gate lodge, boat house, and guide house.
  • The Farm Complex consists of the ruins of a large dairy and horse barn lost in a tragic fire, as well as the stone dairy building, several houses, and ruins of many other buildings.
  • The Main Complex sits on the shores of Newcomb Lake and contains the main lodge, stone Artists Studio, boat house, and several smaller structures. In addition to these features, there are several other related remains scattered about the original estate.

Key proposals in the Draft UMP include:

  • Constructing a new pole barn to accommodate maintenance equipment;
  • Installing a fire alarm system and fire retardant coatings on buildings;
  • Constructing a replica dairy barn on the surviving foundation of the historic barn; and
  • Adjusting the boundary of the Farm Complex to include remnants of an orchard and vegetable garden.

Camp Santanoni is a National Historic Landmark and considered one of the most sophisticated and distinguished of all of the surviving great camps in the Adirondacks. The Camp was created by Robert C. and Anna Pruyn. A successful Albany banker and businessman, Mr. Pruyn used the camp for entertaining guests and as a refuge from city life. Mr. Pruyn entertained many guests, among whom were Theodore Roosevelt and the great grandson of the author James Fenimore Cooper along with many other prominent persons. At its height, Camp Santanoni comprised over 12,900 acres.

Camp Santanoni is one of the oldest and largest of the early great camps. It was the first to be comprehensively designed as a unit by a professional architect. The leading architect, Robert H. Robertson, who was a Yale classmate of Pruyn’s, designed the Main Camp Complex. Mr. Robertson was responsible for the design of many early skyscrapers in New York City and elsewhere. He also designed William S. Webb’s Nehasane, another great camp in the Adirondacks, and buildings at Webb’s Shelburne Farms in Vermont.

Camp Santanoni

The Artist’s Studio, the Gate Lodge, the Creamery and renovations to the Farm Complex were designed by the prominent architectural firm of Delano and Aldrich. The operational layout and working systems of the Farm Complex were designed by Edward Burnett who was an expert on “scientific farming”. Contemporary assessments of Camp Santanoni characterized Mr. Pruyn’s wilderness camp as the “largest and finest” in the Adirondacks.

The property was acquired by the State of New York in 1972. In 1991 the State, after intensive efforts by the Town of Newcomb, Adirondack Architectural Heritage, the Preservation League of New York State, legislators and other groups, agreed to preserve the remaining structures as an educational exhibit in a manner consistent with the camp’s Forest Preserve setting. The area was formally classified as historic and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000. DEC, Adirondack Architectural Heritage, and the town of Newcomb partner to restore, maintain and interpret the historic features and facilities.

Today, the area is a popular day hike destination during summer months, as well as a cross country skiing destination in the colder months. Three Camp Santanoni Winter Weekend Events are held annually and attended by many cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

The Camp Santanoni Draft UMP is posted on the DEC website. Copies of the plan will are available on CD at the following locations: DEC’s headquarters in Albany, NY (5th floor); DEC’s Region 5 office in Ray Brook NY; DEC’s Region 5 sub-office in Warrensburg, NY; and the offices for the Town of Newcomb in Essex County.

Public comments will be accepted until June 12, 2015, and may be sent to Josh Clague, NYSDEC Lands & Forests, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4254 or e-mailed to

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