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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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DEC to Hold Three Weekends of Santanoni Winter Open Houses

January 13th, 2014 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Rare Opportunity to See the Inside of Camp Buildings During the Winter Months

NYSDEC LogoBuilding upon the popularity of the previous two years’ Camp Santanoni Winter Weekend events, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will once again open this historic property to the public for recreational opportunities, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

The events will take place during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, January 18-20; President’s Day holiday weekend, February 15-17; and the weekend of March 16-17. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers will have access to the historic camp properties located in the town of Newcomb in Essex County to rest and view interpretative displays.

“As in the past two years, visitors will be able to enjoy winter outdoor recreation with their family and friends while immersed in the beautiful wilderness setting and the rich cultural heritage of the Adirondacks,” Commissioner Martens said. “Events like these are part of Governor Cuomo and DEC’s efforts to work with local communities to increase tourism and economic activity by showcasing this wondrous part of New York State. The increasing popularity of the Winter Weekends demonstrates our efforts are effective in bringing visitors to the North Country.”

Camp Santanoni
(Panoramio – Photo of Camp Santanoni)

A 9.8-mile round trip cross-country ski or snowshoe excursion traverses from Camp Santanoni’s Gate House complex to the remote lakeside main lodge complex. The trip provides a moderate physical activity and a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

This year’s Winter Weekend events, the third year the events have been held, are expected to continue the trend of being more successful than the previous year. In 2012, more than 250 visitors enjoyed themselves at one of the three weekend events. Last year more than 350 visitors came to enjoy winter outdoor recreation with their family and friends. Those attending were amazed by the wilderness surroundings while being immersed in the rich cultural history of the Adirondacks.

During the three Winter Weekend events cross-country skiers and snowshoers will be able to visit both the Gate Lodge and Main Lodge of Camp Santanoni, view displays about the great camp and take interpretive tours with Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) staff. The Artist’s Studio, a stone building near the main lodge on the shores of Newcomb Lake, will be open as a warming hut. Coffee, tea and hot chocolate will be available and the public is asked to bring their own cups. Also, the Adirondack Interpretive Center will provide snowshoes to lend to visitors at the Gate Lodge.

The three Winter Weekend events are being hosted by DEC, AARCH, the town of Newcomb and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s (ESF) Adirondack Interpretive Center.

“We are happy to work with our partners, DEC, AARCH and SUNY ESF to build on the history and natural beauty of our town to provide tourism destinations that people want to visit,” said Newcomb Town Supervisor George Canon. “Great Camp Santanoni is at least as beautiful covered in winter snows as it is in mid-summer.”

In addition to the popular 9.8-mile round trip from the Gate Lodge to the Main Lodge, cross-country skiers and snowshoers are encouraged to take the half mile-trail that connects Camp Santanoni to the nearby Adirondack Interpretive Center’s 3.6-mile trail system. The Center’s buildings will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on all three days of the Winter Weekends in January and February and on the Saturday and Sunday of the March Winter Weekend.

“ESF is excited to partner with DEC, town of Newcomb and AARCH to help expand how Great Camp Santanoni is used,” said Paul Hai of SUNY ESF’s Northern Forest Institute, which manages the Adirondack Interpretive Center. “Newcomb is a fantastic town, rich with history, recreation and educational opportunities. Collaborations like this grow our town while increasing visitors’ and residents’ appreciation and understanding of the Adirondacks. We are looking forward to working together on more programs and creative ideas in Newcomb.”

While people may visit Camp Santanoni 365 days a year, the buildings are not typically open to the public during the winter months. Additional open house weekends may be considered based on the popularity and success of these three weekend events.

“We are delighted to be part of these winter open house weekends again and look forward to welcoming skiers and snowshoers there at a very beautiful and peaceful time of year,” said Steven Engelhart, Executive Director of AARCH. “Last year, over eight days, we had more than 300 people make the ten mile round-trip outing into Santanoni and we thoroughly enjoyed providing a place to warm up and interpreting the camp’s rich history and architecture to them.”

Construction of Camp Santanoni began in 1892 by Robert and Anna Pruyn and eventually consisted of more than four dozen buildings on 12,900 acres including a working farm, the Gate Lodge complex, and a huge rustic Main Lodge and other buildings situated on Newcomb Lake. Camp Santanoni was in private ownership until 1972. Over the last several decades of state ownership, the camp has gradually been restored through a partnership between DEC, AARCH and the town of Newcomb. Santanoni is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark. Camp Santanoni is considered by many to be the classic Adirondack Great Camp.

Reservations are not required. Contact AARCH at 518-834-9328 for more information on the winter weekends. More information about Camp Santanoni, the Adirondack Interpretive Center and the Newcomb area may be found at:

Camp Santanoni Historic Area – NYSDEC
Adirondack Architectural Heritage
Adirondack Interpretive Center
Town of Newcomb

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Newcomb acquires properties from The Nature Conservancy

January 31st, 2012 · 1 Comment · Adirondack News

Community and conservation goals advance together

Town of Newcomb, NYNewcomb, NY – The Town of Newcomb on January 27, 2012 purchased 348 acres for a total of $256,591.00 from The Nature Conservancy. The town’s purchase of the properties helps to advance economic development, particularly along the Route 28N travel corridor, and other community objectives outlined in its Comprehensive Plan, which was updated in 2009. Descriptions of the properties are as follows:

  • Newcomb - Farmhouse Parcel by C. HeilmanFarmhouse Parcel – a 4-acre property along State Route 28N that includes a two-story residential house that had been used in the past as a field office for foresters and logging contractors. The town, in cooperation with Newcomb Central School, is considering converting the house into a dormitory for foreign exchange students or substitute teachers.
  • Log Yard Parcel – a 20-acre triangular-shaped tract near the intersection of the Tahawus Road and State Route 28N that has been used for temporary storage of logging equipment and logs. The property, zoned by the Adirondack Park Agency for industrial use, has potential to attract and support a small-scale private enterprise.
  • Newcomb - Aerial Hudson River by C. HeilmanGolf Course Parcel – a 324-acre tract bordering the town’s public golf course and a winding stretch of the Hudson River. This parcel may be suitable for expanding the High Peaks Golf Course from nine holes to 18, as well as developing cross country ski trails. Under the terms of a conservation easement now held by the Adirondack Land Trust, approximately three miles of Hudson River shoreline, as well as an ecologically significant wetland complex, will remain undeveloped. Those natural features will continue to provide flood and storm-water runoff controls, which are recognized in the town’s comprehensive plan as valuable, cost-effective services.

“There are all kinds of options for these lands,” said Newcomb Supervisor George Canon. “Now that the transactions with The Nature Conservancy are complete, we look forward to exploring those options. The log yard parcel is probably the most important acquisition; it is an excellent site for a potential business.”

The Nature Conservancy“This is another great example of DEC working closely with The Nature Conservancy and other stakeholders to make sure that the disposition of the former Finch lands benefits the communities and residents of the Park,” said Joe Martens, Commissioner NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. “Congratulations to The Nature Conservancy and the Town of Newcomb for this agreement that will help bolster the community.”

“Working with Newcomb on these land sales—and the larger conservation project—demonstrates how community and conservation goals can go hand in hand,” said Michael Carr, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter. “We quickly learned how important new economic development opportunities are to the town, as well as how much Newcomb residents value their rural quality of life and view the surrounding natural beauty as an asset.”

The lands sold to Newcomb were originally part of The Nature Conservancy’s 2007 purchase of 161,000 acres touching 27 towns in six counties in the Adirondacks. The community enhancement parcels are part of a balanced conservation plan that also includes commercial working forests and new state lands. The working forest component was solidified in December of 2010 when New York State purchased a conservation easement on 89,000 acres—20,270 of which are in Newcomb. That transaction is already helping to advance the community’s recreation objective to develop snowmobile trails to surrounding communities. The new state lands, when they are acquired, will enhance additional recreational opportunities for hunting, hiking, fishing and other activities.

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