Camp Eagle Island Dining Hall viewed from the Main Lodge Ampersand Mountain, Upper Saranac Lake, from boathouse Eagle Island boathouse Camp Eagle Island, also known as Eagle Island Camp, was a resident summer camp located on Eagle Island in Upper Saranac Lake opposite Gull Point.  It has been owned by the Girl Scouts organization since 1938 (now the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey, part of Girl Scouts of the USA), and was operated as a summer camp until 2008.

The camp occupies buildings originally built in 1903 as a summer retreat for former United States Vice-President and New York State Governor Levi Morton and designed by noted architect William L. Coulter; it was built by contractors Trombley and Carrier. The mainland camp now known as Pine Brook was previously owned by Morton. Camp Eagle Island was included in a multiple property submission for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, was listed there in 1987, and was named a National Historic Landmark in 2004.12

In 1910, financier Henry Graves, Jr. of New York City and Orange, New Jersey, bought the camp from Morton after leasing it for two summers. He bought it complete with its furnishings, including Gustave Stickley furniture and fine oriental carpets. Graves added a second boat house to house his four motorboats, four canoes and four guide boats. 3

Camp Eagle Island operated as a Girl Scout camp from 1938, when the Graves family gave the island to the Maplewood-South Orange, New Jersey Girl Scout Council. In time that council became the Girl Scout Council of Greater Essex County, New Jersey which merged with a Hudson County council in the late 1990s. Further mergers in 2008-09 created Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey, which now owns the property.

Camp Eagle Island offered sailing, canoeing, swimming, hiking, campcraft, and various crafts. The camp had many traditions, including the singing of particular songs and a sequence of evening activities during each two-week camp session that included staff introductions and a final night campfire and ice cream sundae party. 4

Camp Eagle Island did not open for the 2009 summer season, with the Girl Scout Council citing several safety issues with the camp that needed to be corrected. They announced that they hoped to reopen for the 2010 summer camp season, 5 but the camp did not reopen, and on October 11, 2010, the Council voted to sell the camp. 67.

A Friends of Eagle Island group has formed to try to prevent the sale.


New York Times, July 26, 1903

CAMP LIFE AT SARANAC INN.

Special to The New York Times.

SARANAC INN, N. Y., July 25.— Ex-Gov. Levi P. Morton has joined Mrs. Morton and Miss Morton at the new Morton camp, on Eagle Island, in the Upper Saranac Lake. The Morton camp is connected - with the outside world by its individual telephone and telegraph wires, which are carried in cables laid through the waters of the lake to the island. Another feature is an electric plant, which furnishes light for the buildings and supplies many large lamps along the boat landing.


New York Times, July 3, 1904

AT SARANAC INN.

Special to The New York Times.

SARANAC INN, N, Y., July 2.—The new camp of Mr. and Mrs. Levi P. Morton on the Upper Saranac Lake has received many finishing touches this Spring, including the construction of a new sleeping cabin and the addition of lattice work of cedar poles underneath all the cabins. Mr. and Mrs. Morton are expected to occupy the camp late in the season...


New York Times, July 16, 1905

Mr. and Mrs. Levi P. Morton and Miss Morton are at their camp, Eagle Island, in the Upper Saranac, where they will spend the season. Mr. Morton's camp, which is perhaps one of the most elaborate in the Adirondacks, was completed this Spring.


New York Times, June 24, 1906

FISHING AT SARANAC.

Special to The New York Times. [...] Eagle Island Camp, the beautiful new summer home of Levi P. Morton, has been leased by Mr. Monroe Smith of Philadelphia. Mrs. Smith is now in camp.


New York Times, July 7, 1907

The magnificent camp of Mr. and Mrs. Levi P. Morton, Eagle Island, has been leased for the Summer by Mr. and Mrs. E. J. King. Jr.. of New York.


New York Times, July 17, 1910

SARANAC INN. Edwin Gould Guest of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Graves, Jr., at Their Camp.

Special to The New York Times.

SARANAC INN. N. Y., July 16.—

Edwin Gould, with his mother-in-law, Mrs. George F. Schrady, came up in a private car and spent the week-end as guests of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Graves, Jr., at Eagle Island camp. Mr. Graves met them at Saranac Inn and took them to camp in his new fifty-foot racer boat. Mr. Gould was delighted with Upper Saranac Lake, and inspected a nearby camp with the possibility of leasing it for the remainder of the season.


New York Times, July 9, 1911

Deer Get Their Luncheon by Poaching on Private Gardens.

Special to The New York Times. WAWBEEK, N. Y. July 8—

Henry S. Graves. Jr., and the members of his house party at Eagle Island camp are favored this season by the visits of a large bald eagle, the first of its kind to visit Adirondack resorts in many years. Mr. Graves's island home received its name from the eagles who nested there years ago, when it was the property of Levi P. Morton. This summer's visitor has been seen by a number of the campers and passing water tourists, and is an unusually large fellow, with black body and wings and snow-white head. The bird has a nest in one of the tall dead pines on Eagle Island.


New York Times, August 30, 1937

BIG ESTATE IS GIVEN TO THE GIRL SCOUTS

Eagle Island in Saranac Lake Presented by Henry Graves to Oranges and Maplewood

WAS LEVI MORTON HOME

Value of Gift Is Estimated as High as $1,000,000—Facilities for Above 100 Campers'

Special to The New York Times.

ORANGE, N. J., Aug. 29.—Henry Graves, formerly identified with large cement interests, has made an outright gift to Girl Scouts in the Oranges and Maplewood of an improved twenty-acre island in the upper part of Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, it was disclosed today by Girl Scout leaders here. Estimates on the value of the gift range from $100,000 to $1,000,000,

Known as Eagle Island, the site, which several decades ago was the Summer home of the late Governor Levi P. Morton of New "York, was officially accepted by Mrs. William F. Campbell of South Orange and Mrs. Franklin Terry of Maplewood. The former represented the Girl Scouts Council of the Oranges and the latter Temple Wood Council.

Story Started Month Ago

The story behind acquisition of the island begins about a month ago, when a search was started for a new site to replace the present camp at White Lake, near Blairstown, N. J., used for the last five Summers by members of the Oranges and Maplewood Councils. Mrs. Archer Bachman of South Orange, chairman of the camp committee, and her husband, who is acquainted with Mr. Graves, learned Eagle Island might be for sale.

They later reported that the Saranac site could be bought for what was called "the astoundingly low figure of $20,000." Mr. Graves, who occupied the island for thirty years, ceased vacationing there last year. Negotiations were started after Mrs. Campbell and camp experts of both councils had visited the site. Plans were mapped for a drive to raise funds—and then came the surprise gift.

Recently representatives of national headquarters inspected the island to determine whether official approval should be given to its purchase. The approval was quickly forthcoming. Several days later leaders here were notified that Mr. Graves had decided to give the island and everything on it to the Girl Scouts in memory of his two deceased sons, Henry Graves 3d and George Coe Graves. Mr. Graves formerly lived in the Oranges.

Contains Large Lodge

About a half mile from shore the island contains one large Adirondacks lodge, fourteen small buildings of log-cabin style, picnic grounds and a tennis court.

There are, boats, canoes and a speed boat which is said to be worth more than $5,000. Bathing facilities include a shallow pool for beginners, a sand beach and a deep pool with a dock for swimmers.

Each building is fully equipped with electric lights and water and sanitary facilities. There are twenty-four large bedrooms, with a bath for every two or three rooms. It is estimated that accommodations are available to house easily more than 100 campers. Facilities at the present camp at White Lake have been taxed beyond capacity.

 

Interior of the Main Lodge Dining Hall Dining Hall roof beams Dining Hall fireplace Staff House Staff House Outbuildings

 


 

See also

External links

Comments

Footnotes

1. National Historic Landmark Nomination: Eagle Island Camp
2. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Great Camps of the Adirondacks
3. Stacy Perman, A Grand Complication, Atria Books, 2013, pp. 102-113.
4. This article appeared originally on "Wikipedia" as Camp Eagle Island; its edit history there reflects its authorship. It is licensed under the GDFL.
5. Upper Saranac Lake Girl Scout camp is closed for repairs this summer
6. Girl Scout Heart of New Jersey
7. Plattsburgh Press Republican - Eagle Island Camp for sale

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