Benjamin Van Buren's Bay
Charles G. Gosselink
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One intriguing and unresolved question has to do with the location of Benjamin Van Buren's cabin. Deeds from that time make reference to land but seldom mention buildings. But only fifteen years separate the Van Buren family's departure and the arrival of Silas and Mary Paine. What happened to the house they had been living in? We may have a few clues.
In 1897, just a year after they had bought their property from Walter Gillette, Mary Paine sold a small plot of land, three acres, to Walter and Helen Griffin. We know nothing about them except that they were a young couple from Hague. The land was in the northeastern corner of Lot 97, on the shore of Lake George, extending from the stream just south of the present Penfield property to the stream just north of their property, the boundary point of Lot 96. The land may have included the house that Gillette built, though the price even for that time, $300, seems very low. It is probable that the Griffins built it in 1897. Later documents and pictures refer to it as the Glen Cottage. In 1901, Walter Griffin bought an additional, adjoining acre of land from Mary Paine for $100, and put up a barn where the McConaughy's Ledgetop now stands, formerly Bob Cole's upper house.
There are several pictures of the Glen Cottage that date from about 1900, showing a square, frame house, with a porch on the front and a carriage shed in the back. It has the look of a summer rooming house. There is a dock down at the lake. The driveway is unpaved and there is no rotunda on the porch, but already there are birches growing beside the house and there is an apple tree in front, old enough to have been planted by Benjamin Van Buren.
Hague Historical Museum
|The Glen Cottage 1900|
Some of the photographs show a cleared area up behind the house with a small cabin and separate shed. Whose house was this? There is no trace of the building now but there is a concrete slab up in the woods, covered with several inches of rotted leaves, and on the northern edge of the property there is evidence of a sunken roadbed leading up to it. Could this have been Benjamin Van Buren's home, the house that shows up on the Warren County map of 1858 and Seneca Ray Stoddard's map of 1888? It seems reasonable that Mary Paine might sell the Griffins property that already had a cabin on it and that they would build a newer house near by. The original house could have been over fifty years old in 1900 and must have been taken down sometime after the new house was built.
In 1903, the Griffins sold their four acres of land and buildings to Charles K. Ober, one of the founders of the YMCA summer school at Silver Bay. He kept it only two years before selling it to the Silver Bay Association, "to round out (its) holdings." In 1906 Silver Bay sold the western corner of the lot and the barn, beyond a small stream, to William Millar, who had purchased the adjacent property. In 1907 Silver Bay sold a small piece of the land, the northeast corner on the lake, to Margaret Reid Michener. We will pick up her story later. In 1909, Silver Bay sold the Glen Cottage and the balance of that lot to Lucy C. Andrews, an unmarried woman from Orange, New Jersey. We know little about her, but she may be the one who added the distinctive rotunda porch, which originally had a tall, conical roof. She kept the property only until 1917, when she sold it to Thornton Penfield, then general secretary of the Eastern Association School. In 1920, he sold the property on the west side of the Silver Bay Road to William and Elizabeth Stewart, retaining for himself the piece of land on the lake.
|The Glen Cottage 1917|
The property remained in the Stewart family, passing to their son-in-law, Reginald Jewell, until it was sold again in 1961 to Thornton Penfield Junior. The Stewarts remodeled the house extensively, adding a bedroom and bath, a sunroom, and the stonework under the rotunda porch. They built a garage with an apartment above it for their gardener/chauffeur. Older residents of the Bay remember Mrs. Stewart's beautiful garden, of which, alas, only the white hydrangeas remain. The Stewarts also added a small piece of land on the lake off Oneida Drive where they constructed a boathouse. Jewel sold the property to Thornton and Ruth Penfield, who passed it on to their children, Thorny and Char. It now belongs to Char and her husband Chuck Gosselink.
 There is contradictory evidence here. According to the tax records, Walter Gillette built the house. But Clifton West's father told him that the Griffins had built it. They bought the property for $400 but sold it six years later for $6,000.
 Bob Cole, Hague Historical Society talk, 1979, SBA Archives.
 E. Clark Worman, The Silver Bay Story, 1952. p. 41.
 The Lake George Committee was established in 1902 to plan and organize conferences at Silver Bay. It continued under that name until 1913, when it was incorporated as the Eastern Association School.