The original Great Camps of the Adirondacks were grandiose, elaborate, rustic summer homes built a century ago by wealthy urban businessmen to escape the city and to enjoy the great outdoors and nature at its finest. Constructed during the late 1800's, they were characterized by being rustic, yet elegant structures built from native materials (logs, stone, artistically designed twigs used as architectural features, etc) by local labor, and being situated in natural, scenic, wooded landscapes, usually on lakefront property. It was common for the camps to have separate structures for different functions thereby forcing people to interact with the outdoors as a part of daily life. The great camps were exclusive, yet naturally organic, elegant yet rustic. They were an interesting contradiction in design, and an irresistible combination of function. Among the owners of the original Adirondack great camps were JP Morgan, the Rockefellers, and the Vanderbilts. In Great Camps of the Adirondacks, Harvey H. Kaiser said that "comfort and luxury coexisted with a vague concept of roughing it." They were fabulous, impressive structures, and yet only a limited number of the original Adirondack Great Camps have survived. The demise of many of the great camps was the ironic result of the "forever wild" protections of the Adirondack Forest Preserve legislation of the late 1800's which later restricted the repair and even existence of the camps that eventually fell into the hands of the state and disappeared.
To me it seems that the style of the great camps defines the Adirondacks and its lifestyle; and it seems that this style retains a certain mystique to this day. Elegance, rustic luxury and that vague concept of roughing it combine to create a uniquely Adirondack charm.
This brings us to what I'd call one of Lake Placid's own crown jewels: an absolutely fabulous log home, reminiscent of the best of the Adirondack great camps of the Gilded Age, but new and spectacular. My pick for Ski House of the Day is the Lake Placid Contemporary Great Camp, a wonderful, modern combination of elegance and nature. (This house is currently on the market for $2.35 million).
Just like the original great camps, this large log home is beautifully situated among the trees, and in the snow:
Reminiscent of the great camps of the nineteenth century, the living room is a stunningly gorgeous combination of wood, stone, soaring spaces and views of nature:
"Comfort and luxury...with a vague concept of roughing it" sums up the style of this house. Every piece of furniture and decor in this house just seems to ooze with comfortable, luxurious Adirondack charm.
The use of large logs and small twigs along the stairs is artful as well as functional, and so perfectly Adirondack! But, wait a minute...is that a beaver gnawing on a ... log? (Now that's a great sense of humor!).
Another cozy feature of this house (unlike the great camps), is the radiant heating - cozy on skiers' frozen toes.
This kitchen looks beautiful, functional and elegant. I love the extra large gas stove, multi-level granite island, and of course that gleaming, detailed tin ceiling (a feature that was, in fact, popular during the era of the original great camps' construction):
The birch-bark ceiling in the dining room makes it unmistakably Adirondack, and blends with the white snow-capped trees outside:
This outdoor living room is one of my favorite areas of this house...and is so in keeping with the great camps in that it's designed to provide comfortable yet rustic enjoyment of the great outdoors:
The Adirondack Museum says that one of the things that defined the Great Camps located in the forest was that they were closely linked to the land and to the American vernacular traditions of log and bark construction...with prevailing romantic notions of the wilderness. And the entry foyer of the Contemporary Great Camp is spot on with that definition; linked with the land via the wood/log and birch bark construction and the romance of the snow-covered wilderness just outside the windows:
As in the great camps...there are massive logs gracefully supporting this house:
Although this contemporary home is just five years old, it has a cozy, warm and inviting feeling that hints at days gone by in the Adirondacks.
The bedroom has a wall of windows for a special view of that Adirondack "prevailing romantic notions of the wilderness:"
Here's one of the 4.5 bathrooms in this beautiful house...it's elegant, but with rustic touches like the birch bark mirror frame, and stone finishes. Gorgeous!
The log furniture is perfect:
The snow that is visible outside of every window in this house is not lost on me...I love it!
How I wish I were writing Ski House of the Day right now from the birch-bark clad desk in this elegantly rustic home office:
Okay, they may not have had a coffee table like this in the original great camps, but how can you resist this toboggan-turned-coffee-table in a house that has all that snow just outside the door?
The family room/game room area is home to yet another fireplace, plus a bar, game tables, and more. How great is this room for some apres-ski fun?
I love the wooden "ski" pub-chairs, and the vintage skis on the wall...it is in Lake Placid, after all.
There's a spacious built-in bar in the family room/game room...nice for apres-ski, for sure! And check out the antique brass cash register on the bar...it is an item whose lifespan roughly coincided with the great camps of the Adirondacks. In addition to being a beautiful conversation piece, I think it could be a subtle nod to the wealth of those who created the Adirondack great camps in the first place.
The impressive Contemporary Great Camp just seems to go on and on.
I am simply awestruck by this ski house!