- January 26, 1927 – JSA to Warwick Carpenter –
Have just finished reading your letter of the 20th, and can assure you I am much pleased with the good news about your family and yourself.
You are quite right in wanting to know more about the Lake George proposition before you act. In fact it is not entirely clear to me that you can take any action, but you are one of the few who appreciate the real value of the Constitutional protection and the necessity of such protection, and this appreciation of yours, with past experience makes you peculiarly well fitted to talk the subject over with Mr. Knapp, should the right kind of opportunity turn up. It would be my suggestion that you deal with the subject as a whole, with the east side property as an important feature.
Answering your questions in order, – While Mr. Knapp, Sr., has transferred the ownership to his son, his advice or influence in the disposition of the property would be quite sufficient to accomplish the purpose in mind. At least this is my opinion. The entire property, with the exception of a few acres and one or two buildings was transferred to the son in the fall of 1923, for $75,000. The son immediately organized a corporation with a real estate charter. Although the corporation was called the Reforestation Corporation, there was nothing in the charter or papers of incorporation that referred in any way to reforestation or protection of any kind. Whatever the intentions were, the facts are as stated, and during my effort to clear up the situation, and determine the purpose, also to get through an appropriation, there was much feverish unrest which resulted in the corporation being dissolved a month after it had been incorporated, and young Mr. William Knapp wrote a letter to the Senate Finance Committee in which he agreed to retain the property in his own name, and further agreed to not allow commercial use, and give the State a years notice before he sold the property.
The letter now is apparently non-existent, and is only interesting as a matter of history. The property is practically the way it was when you were last at the lake, with the exception that the old Pearl Point Hotel has been remodeled as a private camp for Mr. Knapp, and is the most northerly house on the property. The rest of the improved property, which has been repaired and new additions added, is south of this point. I mention this with the idea of making known to you that it would be quite reasonable to have Mr. Knapp retain virtually a mile of shore beginning at a point a quarter of a mile north of Pearl Point and extending south. This would include all of his improvements and most of the trails and roads, and this strip would run back for sufficient distance to include his farm. I mention a quarter of a mile north of his private camp with the idea of giving him full protection and having the State own the land north from such a line, up to a point a quarter of a mile south of the hamlet which you may recall is also south of Hewlett’s Landing. The shore thus described is still in its wild state. You appreciate, of course, that he and his friends would still have ready access to the property and the Constitution requires that it shall be forever kept as wild forest land, as that he could not in any way be hurt or damaged by such procedure.
This has been suggested to Mr. W. J. Knapp, with the possible exception of the boundaries, and he is reported to be favorable to the State owning the Black Mountain section, but insists on such restrictions that the State cannot accept it.
If someone in your locality could suggest to Mr. Knapp that you at one time were Secretary of the Conservation Commission, and are informed on all such problems in the State, and that he might be interested in talking things over with you, or at least meeting you sometime, your chances of a sympathetic audience with him would be very good. You will appreciate the advantage of him wanting to hear what you think, and in telling not all to him at first, but rather to have him feel that he is getting advice or information from you on his own initiative or with his own solicitation. You will find him a charming man to be with, and much better acquainted with the subject than you ordinarily find among well-to-do and busy men of his type. The fact that the question is now being actively debated by the Park people, with his son, gives me encouragement to believe that your efforts might be very fruitful, if you do not appear to be very anxious about it.
Donations of land to the State are now quite common. I am enclosing a clipping from yesterday’s paper. You may recognize this by the name. It is my impression that it is not very far from Luzerne. By the way, Mr. George Foster Peabody has given the State the top of Prospect Mountain and a piece of valuable shore land (Hearthstone Park about two miles north of the Village of Lake George on the west side, and Mrs. Loines has given about 40 acres on the Northwest Bay side of Tongue Mountain.
You will note, however, from my letter to Mr. Knapp, that it is my suggestion that he not give any land, but sell it to the State, since the State has five million dollars available, and authority to buy the land, the thought being to use the money and any additional funds he may be inclined to donate to a trust fund, the accrued interest of which each year to be used for supervision of the land he sells by an independent person, similar to the way in which I am now active, and also assist the efforts each year in preventing the amendment of Article 7, Section 7, which protects this land and two million additional acres.
Am dictating this off-hand and it will be sent to you without rewriting, in order that it might reach you without any further delay.
With best wished to you and your family, I remain
PS In several of my talks with Mr. Knapp, before our relation was destroyed, he showed a very keen appreciation of the long struggle that would inevitably result between the people, wanting to use the property, and the private owner, unless situation was handled very tactfully, and I think he appreciated the importance of some arrangement that would reduce the possibility of such a clash. This argues very strongly for the division of land as suggested above, with the new public dock north of his land, so that the public would cease to land as they now do within a few hundred yards of his son’s private camp.
[handwritten] The suggested new public dock either on the main land further north or on Glen Island where the State headquarters are now located. Incidentally there are some fine buildings including sidewalks, hedges, lawns, etc.