For the last thirty years, Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) and others have advocated for the preservation of Debar Pond Lodge. In 2014, AARCH wrote the successful nomination for Debar Pond Lodge to the National Register of Historic Places. This designation is due to the site’s association with Adirondack tourism in the first half of the twentieth century, as an outstanding example of evolving early/mid-twentieth century Adirondack camp design, and as an important work of noted regional architect William Distin.
We understand that without the Town of Duane’s support, the Debar Pond Lodge land exchange amendment is unlikely to pass the state legislature. We respect the town’s authority to oppose the amendment and removal of the six acres surrounding Debar Pond Lodge from the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Moving forward, AARCH will continue to work for the lodge’s preservation, seeking a constitutionally appropriate avenue for the building’s reuse.
Throughout our decades of working to preserve Debar Pond Lodge, AARCH has been impressed by the strength of public support for this historic building. The public opinion survey we conducted with Debar Pond Institute this summer, including some 240 visitors to the site, demonstrated an overwhelming consensus that the building contributes to the site’s landscape and sense of place.
Since our founding in 1990, AARCH has worked in partnership with NYS DEC and the Town of Newcomb on the preservation and interpretation of Camp Santanoni in Newcomb. This partnership exemplifies the very best of what a public/private collaboration can achieve. While Camp Santanoni was built as a private camp for a wealthy Albany family, since it entered public ownership it is now a site open to all. Surely there is a comparable solution for Debar Pond Lodge.
While AARCH opposed the demolition of Debar Pond Lodge in DEC’s 2020 Draft Unit Management Plan for the Debar Lodge Day Use Area, we appreciate the state’s interest in creating an accessible entry to Debar Pond. DEC proposed creating infrastructure and path hardening that met standards for use by persons with disabilities. Unlike the main lodge at Camp Santanoni, Debar Pond Lodge is perfectly sited for that accessibility. We believe in democratizing these formerly elite, private spaces, so that all can enjoy them.
The world needs wild places. The world also needs beauty of all kinds, natural and human-made. We wish for all to enjoy experiencing the magic of Debar Pond from the great room’s picture window or picnicking on the front lawn.