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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Grotto: 1908

The Grotto: 1908

Lake George, New York, circa 1908. "The Grotto, Fort William Henry Hotel." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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Ashes to Ashes

The hotel was destroyed by fire in June 1909 and rebuilt in 1911. I wonder which one this photo is.

Call the fire inspector!

All that dead wood in a public space wouldn't pass muster these days!

An Adirondack tradition - the summer hotel

The long tradition of large resort hotels has pretty much passed. In the 19th and 20th centuries, these vacation spots were crowded with families and couples attempting to leave the steaming concrete and asphalt of cities like Boston and New York. Hotels like the Mount Washington in the White Mountains, or the Fort William Henry in the Adirondacks, offered it all: delicious meals served in splendid dining rooms, as much socializing or privacy as you desired, walks, boating, lawn tennis, golf, horseback rides, and of course, walks, walks, walks. If you felt less active, there were large wrap-around porches with gorgeous views, where you could rest in a comfortable rocking chair, reading a book or just contemplating the greenery.

Special trains would bring the vacation-goers to the Lake George Depot, where carriages would transfer you to your selected hotel. The cool air of the mountains, combined with the breezes coming off the lake and the clean oxygen produced by the forests, revivified the middle- and upper classes before the before the age of air-conditioned refrigerated rooms. The novels of William Dean Howells were frequently based in these summer resorts, where romances and intrigues flourished.

The only thing that these hotels lacked were lavish private chambers. I stayed at the Mount Washington before its major renovation, and the beds were narrow, lumpy iron bedsteads. It was assumed that all you needed was a bed to crash in, since you'd be busy outside of your room most of your stay.

The Fort William Henry, like the Mount Washington, was able to stave off the wrecking ball by converting itself into a Hotel and Conference Center in the 1990s. More on this era of Lake George history here.


Looks like a nice cool spot to go to on a hot summer day and relax with a pitcher of beer and a good 5 cent cigar!

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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