Benjamin Van Buren's Bay
Charles G. Gosselink
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Although they had sold most of their land by 1906, Silas and Mary Paine still retained, in addition to their own estate on Tower Point, some property west of Terrace Road within the original Lot 97 of the Ellis Tract and spilling over into Lot 98 to the south. In about 1920, they made arrangements to sell that land. By this time, Louis Spelman had become a close friend of the Paines. Knowing that he had studied surveying, they provided him with a Gurley transit and asked him to survey and subdivide the property. Silas Paine died the following year but Mary continued the project.
Louis Spelman was a man of many talents and accomplishments. Born in Germany, he came to the U.S. as a young man in 1907 and was educated at Syracuse and Columbia. After working briefly at the YMCA in New York, he was offered the job of assistant superintendent at the Silver Bay Association and arrived in August 1913. The following year he was promoted to superintendent and held that position until his retirement in 1958. The job made use of his considerable skills as bookkeeper, office manager, building and grounds supervisor, engineer, surveyor, and architect. He taught mathematics and physics at the Silver Bay School and was in charge of the student work projects. In later years he added real estate, house building, and property management to his several abilities and served many of the cottagers of Van Buren Bay.
Uncle Louis, as many of us knew him, lived to a grand old age, but there was an occasion when his future was placed in jeopardy. He loved to tell the story of the time he fell through the ice of Van Buren Bay. He was checking to see whether the ice was thick enough for skating. It wasn't. He was alone and there was no help nearby. He tried but couldn't get a grip on the surface to pull himself out. Finally he put his soaking mittens as far out on the ice as he could reach, waited for them to freeze, and then with that purchase was able to climb out!
In 1920, Spelman set to work on Silas and Mary Paine's new development, which they named Sunrise Park, and was soon drawn into another institution associated with Terrace Road and Van Buren Bay, the Terrace Water Company. Access to water had been an important issue right from the beginning, and most of Mary Paine's first deeds for sale of land provide for access to springs located on the mountain. Originally these deeds simply allowed property owners individually to lay pipe across their neighbors land to a shared source of water, but a more unified system was established fairly early. In 1917, when Thornton Penfield purchased the Glen Cottage from Lucy Andrews, he wrote to ask her to inform Fred Goodman that she had transferred to him her shares of stock in the Terrace Water Company.
The development of Sunrise Park required that this system be extended and improved. Consequently, Mary Paine set aside land for a spring and reservoir and deeded it, at no cost, to the Terrace Water Company. She also lent the water company money so that the required work could be done. Louis Spelman served as engineer and project supervisor, and the water system was up and running by the summer of 1923.
Access to the lake for swimming and boating was another important concern for those first owners of land above Paine Road, those who had no waterfront. In a meeting in the summer of 1904, they decided to ask Silas Paine for a lot on the shore where they could erect a boathouse. He was amenable, but the arrangement he made, in conversation with Luther Wishard, was somewhat indirect. He sold seventy-five feet of lakeshore property, just south of Dr. Davis's land, to Eva Wishard. She, in turn, agreed to give half of that property to the cottagers concerned. In July 1905, they met to organize the Maquas Boat Club. The charter members were Harlan Beach, Fred Goodman, David McConaughy, James Raine, Luther Wishard, and Alfred Whitford. The club was formally incorporated the following year, whereupon Mrs. Wishard deeded thirty-seven and one half feet of waterfront to the club, and the members, with their own labor, erected a small boathouse.
Over the next few years, as property on the hill changed hands, five more members joined the club. However, in 1921, when Mrs. Paine inquired about membership for the future cottagers of Sunrise Park, all agreed that the space was not adequate and the building would have to be enlarged. By agreement with the Club, Mrs. Paine bought the remaining adjacent thirty-seven and a half feet of waterfront which had belonged to Mrs. Wishard and deeded it to the Club. She also donated $1500, and loaned $2500, toward enlarging the facility. In return, Mrs. Paine was able to offer membership in the club to the buyers of Sunrise Park lots. Louis Spelman agreed to submit plans and oversee the new construction.
By the summer of 1923, the renamed Oneita Boat Club was complete. It provided ample room on the lower floor for recreation in summer and the storage of boats in winter, and there were 31 lockers on the upper floor where members and guests could change for bathing. For many years the boathouse was the site of an annual gala regatta, with swimming and boating contests for all ages, an event which attracted large crowds and was the highlight of the summer for Van Buren Bay children. Popular contests included canoe tilting with padded bamboo poles and the greased watermelon chase, an aquatic form of the Afghan buzkhasi.
With the supply of water and access to the lake assured, Mary Paine's Sunrise Park project provided an attractive opportunity for a number of other saints to buy property and build summer cottages on Van Buren Bay. Among the first to take advantage of this offer was Dr. Louis C. Waldron. Waldron was active in the Reformed Church of America and a leader in the Christian Endeavor movement. He first visited Silver Bay in 1921, and that same year he purchased Lot 2 of the Sunrise Park project, a little ways above what is now the Van Patten house. He put up his cottage, a Montgomery Ward kit, the following year. In 1927, the new state highway threatened to pass between his house and the garage, but he successfully petitioned the engineers to put the road a little further west.
Mary Waldron Klebe bought out her three brothers when they all inherited the cottage, Birch Knoll, from their parents. She passed it on to her children, Bob and Bill Klebe and their families. Bob continued the connection with Silver Bay Association when he served as Associate Director from 1969 to 1974.
Just below the Klebes, overlooking the Van Patten house, is the original Guest cottage, now owned by Rhoda Lynch. Rhoda inherited it from her mother, Mildred Port, who had it from her parents Edgar and Katherine Guest. "Unk Guest" was the secretary of the Tarrytown, New York YMCA. He first came to Silver Bay for a training course in the summer of 1917 before being sent over to Italy with the YMCA in World War I. Of course he was attracted to the area and so he arranged to buy Lot 1 of Mary Paine's project in 1924. In the early days he traveled from Tarrytown with his wife and baby in a motorcycle and sidecar, with a tent and equipment strapped to the side. At first they lived in a tent, on a wooden platform, the remains of which can still be seen to the side of the house. Later, Guest hauled up lumber, on his motorcycle, and began construction of the cottage. It is still there today, properly rustic with a beautiful stone chimney. His great granddaughter Debbie and her husband Jim Betz spend summer vacations there now.
Mary Paine vigorously opposed the construction of the new State highway over Tongue Mountain, now Rte 9N, fearing that it would bring in more traffic and change the nature of the community. She was right, of course. One immediate effect of the highway was to separate the lower houses of Sunrise Park from those higher on the hill. In time the old carriage road that ran from Paine Hall, up past the Guest and Waldron cottages, to Terrace Road fell into disuse and was closed. Sometime in the 1950's, Mrs. Guest sold a small piece of her land near the highway to Sadie Price. She put up a house there, which is now owned by her daughter Pat Dommermuth. Access from Route 9N to those three cottages is by the short drive designated Sunrise Park, a last reminder of Mary Paine's development project.
But in 1922, the Sunrise Park project was just underway. Louis Spelman acquired one of the lots for his own use, the property now owned by Barbara Scott at the southern end of Terrace Road. Louis did not build there until about 1942, when he put up the log cabin he called Rockwood. George and Barbara Scott purchased the house in 1983. George was President of the Terrace Water Company for many years. On one occasion when he was called upon to complete one of the innumerable forms and questionnaires sent out by the State Health Department, he was asked what the company's alternate source of water was. Speaking broadly for the community, he answered, "If Lake George goes dry, we are all in real trouble."
|The Behr/Hollinshead Family 1929|
The Behr family, parents and four children, had come to Silver Bay for several years before putting down deeper roots. Old photos record the family on picnics, camping trips, and fishing expeditions as early as 1917, but they seem not to have acquired property until 1922, when their daughter Anna bought the next lot on Terrace Road and built a summer house. She and her husband Kenneth Hollinshead presided over family gatherings there every summer until she passed the property on to their daughter Joan (Holly) and her husband Douglas Knott. Doug owns the house now. Anna's brother Robert and his wife Letha bought the property next door in 1947 and built their own charming Adirondack cottage, now owned by Letha Behr and her children Mimi and Robert.
Guy and Jennie Harner bought the land across the road. He was a YMCA secretary and active in Silver Bay programs. The Harners returned to their Terrace Road cottage for almost thirty summers. In 1953, they sold their property to J. Floyd and Ella McTyier. McTyier was also a YMCA secretary and the family had already come to Silver Bay for a number of years. He was involved in planning the 50th anniversary celebrations at Silver Bay in 1952. Dorothy McTyier and her husband Russell Babcock inherited the property. Russ was a YMCA secretary and the son of a YMCA secretary, so he had the right credentials. Dot continues to spend summers at the cottage. It is now owned by her daughters Harriet Ann Marsden, Jeanette King, and Carolyn Dunn.
Charles and Lydia Steurer purchased the first lot on Hermitage Road, then called Mountain Road, in 1923. Like Bob Cole, the Steurers lived in Tarrytown and had first come to Silver Bay to visit Edgar Guest. Repeating a familiar story, they liked the place so much that they bought property of their own nearby. In 1925 they built a cottage, and as Charles Steurer said later, "from that time on, just as soon as school was closed, mother would take the children and go up there for the summer, and my oldest son and myself would commute. Every Friday we would go up there, spend Saturday and Sunday, and then come back on Sunday nights again." They drove by way of Warrensburg and Hague before the new highway was completed. Steurer was particularly attracted by the fishing. He recalled that one spring a guest at the cottage caught a 25-pound lake trout. The Steurers' oldest son Charlie bought property on the lake, which he called JanDor for his two daughters Janet and Doris. Clemens Steurer inherited the house on the hill, Twin Pine Knoll, and it is now owned by a collection of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In 1957, James and Faith Duncan purchased the still vacant lot next to the Steurers on Hermitage Road. They built their cottage there in about 1960. It is owned today by their son Jeremy Duncan and his wife Denise.
The oldest house in Sunrise Park may be the cottage now owned by Gerard and Eloise Van Heest, near the top of Hermitage Road. In 1923, Mary Paine deeded "all that certain plot, piece or parcel of land, with the buildings and improvements thereon erected" to Edward Long. The house has a dug cellar with a natural stone foundation and seems to have been built for winter as well as summer occupancy. Edward Long was caretaker of the Paine estate and is said to have lived there year-round as a single man. His land bordered Paine property and the Terrace Water Company's storage tanks, for which he was responsible. Long also had a deeded right to the spring for off-season use. For all these reasons, it seems possible that the house predated the Sunrise Park development but was deeded to Long only when the nearby land was surveyed and put up for sale.
Ed Long died alone in that house, according to local tradition, leaving the property to his sister Mary Long, who lived in England. A year later, in 1931, Mary Long sold the house to Edith Barton, who was the nurse at the Silver Bay Boys School. She, too, was a year-round resident, though she often rented out her house during the summer, perhaps staying in or near the infirmary at the Inn at Silver Bay.
After renting that cottage, now called Topnotch, for several summers, Franklin and Edith Hinkamp bought the property in 1945. Gerry and Eloise Hinkamp Van Heest acquired the house in 1986. Jon Hinkamp, with his father's help, built his own cottage, The Hermitage, on an adjacent higher plot of land purchased from Mort Bowen in 1952. From the deck of his house, Jon can look out over the trees to a spectacular view of Lake George and Van Buren Bay below.
 Louis Spelman, Silver Bay As I Knew It, 1976.
 Thanks to Carol Leonard for this story.
 Letter in the writer's files dated November 22, 1917.
 George Scott, "Silas and Mary Paine and the Terrace Water Company", in In Our Own Words, ed. Bruce Ergood, for the Silver Bay Centennial Celebration, 2001. The assessment that first year was $20 per cottage. Water flowed from the reservoir by gravity to the cottages below. In the 1924, when the original spring proved inadequate, Spelman presided over the installation of a new system whereby water was pumped up to the reservoir from the lake. In 2000, the Terrace Water Company abandoned its pumps and reservoir and now receives water from the Silver Bay Association's new Penfield Water Works.
 Janet Foster Griffin, Oneita Boat Club Historian's Report, 1986, SBA Archives. Maquas was the Dutch settlers' name for the five tribes of the Iroquois nation.
 This building remains something of a mystery. A well established tradition holds that it was constructed from the original Paine boathouse, which was moved across the bay on the ice in the winter of 1922 and modified to its present size and design. That story is quite credible. Moving and renovating houses was a common practice at the time, and the new name of the boathouse was the name of Paine's boat. But not everyone accepts that account. Louis Spelman does not mention it and the Boat Club records are silent. On the other hand, in a collection of 1925 photographs of the Columbiona-on-Lake George buildings (see pages 71 and 76) there is a picture of a boathouse on Shawanapek beach. It is labeled "Paine's Boathouse," and it looks somewhat like the original with one end removed. Perhaps that is the boathouse that was moved across the bay on the ice.
 The Legacy of Oneita Bay, brochure for the 1987 Walking Tour of Historic Camps, SBA Archives.
 Robert Cole, "Travelling in God's Country," Lake George Mirror, August 25, 2000.
 Margaret Wishard, unpublished recollections, 1987, SBA Archives.
 Several lots were lost to the highway and the original purchasers compensated by Warren County.
 Thanks to Hank Geils for this story.
 Charles S. Steurer, unpublished autobiography, 1963, courtesy of David K. Steurer.
 Thanks to Jon Hinkamp for this account and other information.