The Adirondacks is known for its sprawling rustic private summer homes known as Great Camps, but only one is publicly owned.
Camp Santanoni constructed between 1892-1893, is a sprawling log building modeled after a Japanese temple. It sits at the end of a five-mile historic carriage road, on the edge of a mile-and-a-half-long lake dotted with islands and framed by mountains.
The building itself is composed of 5,000 square feet of porch space that connects its rooms and forms the shape of a phoenix. During the summer and fall, all of the camp’s rooms are left open so visitors can explore its unrestored and unfurnished rooms. Robert and Anna Pruyn, who constructed the camp and assembled the 13,000-acre preserve, insisted that family and guests explore the woods and waters of the site.
The property also contains a historic gate lodge with a massive stone arch and several buildings remaining from its farm, which was the largest associated with an Adirondack Great Camp.
The second family to own the property, the Melvins, sold the entire preserve to the State of New York. Fortunately, the state did not immediately destroy many of the buildings on the Santanoni Preserve. However, those that remained were not maintained until Adirondack Architectural Heritage advocated for the site’s preservation. This resulted in the land around the gate lodge, farm, and camp being designated as a historic area. Campsites are located at nearby Great Camp, making it quite easy to sip a glass of wine on the porch, enjoy the sunsets, and imagine what it was like to visit during its heyday.