1939 – Essay concerning French Point and the Memorial Fund

  • Date unknown – probably 1939 – Essay concerning French Point, and the Memorial Fund to honor George Foster Peabody, and of Paradise Bay, and the western shore of the Narrows…

This world famous scenery has been disappearing for may years due to building operations along the shore accessible by roads. The entire 100 miles of lake shore land was privately owned and subject to building operations at the will of the owner until 1924. At this time, it was recognized that the more precipitous shore in the Narrows was not yet penetrated by roads was the only sizable area that remained of this famous scenery.

A number of people, including Mr. George Foster Peabody, Mr. W. K. Bixby, Governor Alfred E. Smith, Mr. E. M. Rabenold, Mrs. Mary Loines, Mrs. Moskowitz, Dr. Langmuir and others concerned themselves in trying to maintain the natural conditions of this undisturbed area. The first accomplishment was a change in the proposed location of a highway along the shore of Tongue Mountain. It was recognized that a highway would be very conspicuous along this bold shore with thinly covered forest; also there was no law to prevent the erection of unsightly structures and other commercial developments as the land was privately owned. A highway would have raised land values to a prohibitive price for state acquisition. As finally constructed, the highway was located over a much shorter and less expensive routs.

This movement in 1924 also resulted in a state appropriation of $75.000 and this was later supplemented by other appropriations used to acquire the Tongue Mountain peninsula with the exception of a few small lots already built upon. The state could not afford to buy the developed land, and it was also thought fair to leave the owners undisturbed who were there prior to this preservation plan, provided they would not develop their property for purposes conflicting with the wild character of this area.

One of these owners was the General Electric Company, who operated French Point as a girls’ camp until 1932. This property is conspicuously locate opposite Paradise Bay and bears a very important relation to that entire section. When it was offered for sale by the company, Mr. George Foster Peabody made a personal appeal to Mr. Owen D. Young to cooperate with the state in carrying out this preservation plan, and he agreed that the property should be held until the state was in a position to acquire it. This property has been so held for seven years and the company now agreed to remove all structures but very properly feels it has done its part in holding this property and refusing to sell for such a long time and that some definite arrangement must now be made.

Mr. William J. Knapp, who owns the land directly across the lake from French Point, including Paradise Bay, recognized that his property was also very essential to this preservation plan and agreed to maintain its wild character and give the state ample opportunity to acquire it when and if he wished to sell. Several times during the last few years when the state still had funds available, it indicated interest in the acquisition of his land, but it is reported that he was not willing to sell, saying that he wished to keep it for his children and grandchildren in its present undeveloped state. His many friends have hoped that this would prove true, but since he has not visited Lake George this season and there are reports and indications that he might dispose of the property in the very near future, much anxiety is not expressed regarding his part of the famous scenery. To insure that no developments will be made, it is thought desirable that the land not only be protected by the State Constitution, but also as a memorial gift made conditional that the wild character of the land be maintained.

A number of people have urged that French Point be made a memorial to Mr. George Foster Peabody thus preserving the most conspicuous promontory on the west side of the Narrows, surrounded by state owned land, totally 12,000 acres.

Since Mr. Peabody was a close friend of Mr. Knapp’s father, it is hoped that this final accomplishment in completing the preservation work on the west side of the narrows might encourage him to make a memorial of the opposite shore to his father, who for many years maintained the wild charm of this shore the length of the Narrows. It happens that this part of the estate is seldom used by the owner and would be kept as he has kept it, should it become a part of the State Forest Preserve and be made a memorial to his father. The developed part of this estate os wholly o the south end and some distance above the lake, and state ownership could not therefore restrict the use of or in any way injure the remainder of the property as now used.


Donations to the Fund for a Peabody Memorial on French Point

(A document has recently been posted on the Union College digital archive, part of the Grass Roots Activism exhibit sponsored by the Kelly Adirondack Research Library, with a document names of persons who donated to a fund to support a memorial in honor of George Foster Peabody, in 1938. According to my best information, John Apperson initiated this fund raising campaign, as a way to pay tribute to his friend, Foster Peabody, and Apperson made the arrangements for a plaque to be erected on French Point. This is a transcription of the list of donations.)

  1. S. Apperson $300

Mrs. A. K. Christie                              $25

Dr. Howard Melish                            $50

Miss Edith Clarke                              $25

Miss Dorothy Mersereau                  $25

Mrs. Marjorie Peabody Waite                      $100

Mrs. Andrew Carnegie                                  $300

John D. Rockefeller, Jr.                                  $250

Percy Strauss                                     $250

Maurice Hoopes                                $150

Governor Lehman                             $150

Wm. Mason Smith                             $100

Judge and Mrs. Lehman                   $100

Edwin M. Buckley                              $100

Bernard Baruch                                $100

Mrs. Robert Brockings                                  $100

Chauncey P. Overfield                                  $50

Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Hayes Sulzberger           $300

Bishop Stires                                      $25

Dr. Thomas Jesse Jones                    $5

Mrs. David Fleming                           $300

(Total – $2,930)