Benjamin Van Buren's Bay
Charles G. Gosselink
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Shawanapek Beach 1925|
Ed McBrier's Boathouse
Margaret Rowan and her sister Miriam Parlin were the daughters of William Boyd. Boyd was closely associated with the Silver Bay Association and had served on the Board of Trustees. In 1922, when Silver Bay faced a serious financial crisis, he was one of a small committee of men charged with raising the funds necessary to get the Association back on track and made a substantial personal contribution toward that effort. The family spent summers at Silver Bay, renting Neiona Lodge from Wilbert White during the 1930's. Margaret Rowan, or Peg as she was usually known, rented the White cottage down on the lake, so she was very familiar with the land around Shawanapek when she bought it from Wilbert White in 1938.
When Peg Rowan bought the White property, the lower area near the lake was still largely undeveloped. The Point, as McBrier said, had been the place where the Lake George steamers used to stop, and the remains of the dock can still be seen there. The carriage road that ran back through the woods to the Silver Bay Road is now called Oneida Drive. At one time there was a boys' camp there called Black Elephant Camp, with two or three cabins and some tent platforms.
The Old Steamboat Dock 1925|
Mrs. Rowan kept the land near the Point for herself but sold most of the rest of the property, with the exception of some acreage north of Terrace Road. She sold Neiona Lodge to Jay Urice and the Garden House to Louis Spelman. Spelman, who had built and lived in several houses in the area, made this his last home at Silver Bay before selling it in 1975 to Stan and Cathie Burdick, the present owners.
Jay A. Urice was Executive Director of the National Board of the YMCA at the time but had been associated with the Silver Bay Association for many years. He served on the faculty of the Eastern Association School and was its principal from 1923 to 1926. Later he served on the Board of Trustees. The Urice family kept Neiona Lodge for almost twenty years, and they are responsible for changing the cottage's name. It is said that one of their little granddaughters was standing in the driveway one day when she looked at the two large oak trees growing together and said, "Look Grandma, twin oaks!" The oaks are still there and the cottage is now Twin Oaks.
In 1959, Wilbur and Vanetta McFeely bought the property. He had been Vice President of the International YMCA, became President of the National YMCA, and served as a trustee and President of the Board of the Silver Bay Association. The McFeelys kept the house largely as they found it, forgoing some modern conveniences in favor of preserving the original flavor of the place. Most of the furniture, light fixtures, and other special features date back to McBrier's time. The house is now held in trust for the three generations of family who use it.
In disposing of the rest of her property near the lake, Mrs. Rowan established the Shawanapek Association, much in the pattern of and with the same purpose as Mrs. Paine's Sunrise Park. She offered land to missionaries, ministers, and friends, provided water from the reservoir which McBrier had built, and offered shared waterfront rights at Shawanapek Beach. Several families took this opportunity to build their own cottages.
Bill and Audie Parkinson had been missionaries in Japan. They returned to this country in 1936 and spent several summers in a cottage at the Silver Bay Association. They became friends of Peg Rowan and were first to take advantage of her offer. They started off with a one-room cabin just above the beach. Their daughter Emily Maxworthy remembers that she had to stay in a tent up in the woods. Over time they added on rooms to complete the cottage. Emily owns the property now and presides over the flock of children and grandchildren who arrive every summer.
Wilbert and Betty Smith had been YMCA missionaries in Egypt and before going there had attended training sessions at Silver Bay. Neighbors remember that Wilbert played a serious game of tennis in spite of his missing leg. They rented Helen White's small summer cabin further down Oneida Drive. In 1949 their son Jim and his wife Anne bought land and later built a new, more substantial house next to the Parkinson cottage. Jim still owns the cottage, but it is used most often now by his daughter-in-law Pat Convery and her children Adam, Jeremy, and Eliza.
Jim Smith's sister Libby and her husband Yank Spaulding bought a lot on the hill above, next to Twin Oaks. They never built on the property and eventually sold it to the McFeelys. That property now belongs to Dore and Vanetta McFeely Hunter, who in 1982 put up a log cabin, Little Acorn, to accommodate their growing family.
Cornelius and Dottie Van Leeuwen bought land across Oneida Drive from Miss White's place. Rev. Van Leeuwen was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church and later served Congregational churches as well. They, too, had rented cottages at Silver Bay before buying at Shawanapek. Their children Jack Van Leeuwen, Jean Gavril, and Barbara Kossuth own the property now.
George and Ruth Crothers and their sons had also spent time at Silver Bay, renting a cottage on campus one year and the Hollinshead house on Terrace Road the next, before moving to Shawanapek. George was neither a minister nor missionary but perhaps fit the profile. He was for a time responsible for religious broadcasting at CBS. In 1948 the Crothers purchased a lot and built a camp up on the hill near what was then Louis Spelman's house. When they decided to sell their cottage in the mid eighties, Emily Maxworthy's stepbrother Nick Bolton and his wife Barbara were there to buy it. The Boltons' daughter Tibby and her husband Bob Christenberry recently purchased what many remember as the Shuman Cottage on Silver Bay Road.
The last of the Shawanapek lots went to Bob and Elizabeth Hume. As noted earlier, they purchased the lot just above his parents' cottage and built their own place there. However, Doctor Hume, the elder, used it as a hideaway and study when things got too crowded down below.
On her own property, Mrs. Rowan dismantled two of the existing Black Elephant Camp cabins and built her own spacious summer home with a beautiful panoramic view of the lake and Black Mountain. The third cabin was renovated and expanded to make a second cottage. She also had tents for visiting family and friends. There was always a crowd of young people there. Mrs. Rowan was the vivacious grande dame of Oneida Drive, presiding over community events and celebrations. Neighbors remember the great Fourth of July parties on Rowan Point, swimming and boating off the point, hamburgers and roast corn around the fire. Emily Maxworthy, Stu Harmon, Thorny Penfield, and other neighbors remember learning to aquaplane on a simple board with a rope, pulled by Peg Rowan herself in her Chriscraft. One visitor is said to have lost his swimsuit when he held on to the rope too long after falling off the board.
In 1963, faced with a growing family and need for more space, Peg Rowan had a third cottage built closer to the Point, planning to use it herself in her retirement years. Unfortunately she passed away in 1964 before she could enjoy it, leaving the property to her four children. Margaret inherited the new cottage, Miriam received the middle house, Hank got the original cottage, and Bill was given a strip of land on the lake and the remaining acreage up on the mountain north of Terrace Road. Hank Rowan and his daughter Virginia Smith and Margaret's daughters Carol Kanis and Barbara Barton own the property today. In 2000, Hank and his wife Lee began the construction of a new house just to the south of the original Rowan cottage.
We should mention one more institution on the Rowan property. The carriage road to the old dock having been more or less a public way, people had become accustomed to using it, going back and forth from Silver Bay to the cottages further to the north. Understandably Peg Rowan wearied of this traffic passing in front of her view of the lake. She had the trail rerouted up through the woods behind the house -- and so was born the Friendship Trail. Neighbors appreciate that Hank Rowan has preserved the tradition and put in a new trail after he had his own house built athwart the old.
 In E. Clark Worman, The Silver Bay Story, p. 51, he in mistakenly referred to as William Body.
 Vanetta McFeely, unpublished recollections, 1987, SBA Archives.
 The house was designed by the architect Charles Nutt, who also designed Charles and Miriam Parlin's cottage as well as their daughter Camilla and Harold Smith's lakeside cottage. Nutt was married to one of Peg Rowan's Wellesley classmates.