What do Great Camp Sagamore on Raquette Lake and the Sagamore hotel on Lake George have in common, other than their names?
One was built in 1897 by William West Durant, the father of rustic architecture, as a year-round home for himself, which he named Sagamore Lodge. Durant sold it in 1901 to Alfred G. Vanderbilt; by the 1920s, it was among the peaks of high society. To be invited to stay there, even for a weekend, was to have arrived.
The other Sagamore was completed in 1930, in a style best described as colonial revival, the third summer hotel of that name to be built on Green Island, the first two having burned in 1893 and 1914.
Both Sagamores, however, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Anyone interested in learning what, precisely, joins or disjoins these two icons of American culture – at least the culture of leisure, as it evolved on Lake George and in the Adirondacks – and these jewels of regional architecture, will have an opportunity to do just that on April 7 at the Sagamore hotel.
The Sagamore hotel and Great Camp Sagamore – now a non-profit conference center open to the public – will present “A Tale of Two Sagamores” on Friday, April 7 from 6 pm to 8 pm in the resort’s Conference Center building.
Speakers will be Bill Gates, the Town of Bolton’s official co-historian and author of the 2001 book, “The Sagamore Hotel,” and Robert Engel, Great Camp Sagamore’s historian. The event is free and open to the public. According to Great Camp Sagamore, Robert Engel’s great grandparent’s, Richard and Margaret Collins, were the original caretakers at Great Camp Sagamore. For 20 years he was a museum curator and director before returning to school for a diploma in wine and spirits. He and his wife Judy split their time between Manhattan and their 1870s farmhouse on the backside of Gore Mt.
Bill Gates’ ancestors were among the first residents of the Town of Bolton, having arrived in 1790, nine years before the Town was established.
In his afterword to his history of the Sagamore hotel, Gates writes, “My family has passed down to us through the generations a strong appreciation and respect for Lake George, the mountains, the boats, the people and the rich history that surrounds us. The Sagamore symbolizes all of these.”
When the Sagamore hotel closed before its 1981 season, “Bolton Landing didn’t feel quite the same with the hotel sitting silently over on the island,” Gates writes.
Gates was among the Bolton residents who attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the revived and restored hotel, hosted by its new owners, the Wolgin family, in June, 1983.
Since 2008, the hotel has been owned by a New Hampshire-based company, Ocean Properties.