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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.


Links updated

Several links have gone obsolete.
The link to the history of the Hotel (in the comment of Kubaton) is now (2019/11/11):
And for the history of Lake George (in the comment of Louise), better use:

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!

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