One of my first tasks as the new Marketing Assistant at the ADK Museum in Blue Mountain Lake is to explore the museum campus. Which of course, I am thrilled to do. This afternoon I spent some time in my first location, Bull Cottage on the museum campus. I thought that with this post, I would share the history of this particular structure, and its relationship with the museum grounds. As I continue to explore the various historic structures on the museum grounds, I will share their history as well!
Before I move into the specific history of Bull Cottage, check out this excerpt from the ADK Museum’s historical overview, which lays out how this cottage (and its contemporary structures) came to be on this piece of land.
“The museum’s story begins in 1867 when Connecticut farmer Miles Talcott Merwin acquired 11,230-acres in the Adirondacks, including most of Blue Mountain. Six years later, Merwin and his son, Miles Tyler Merwin, traveled here “in order to look over some prospects for lumbering.” After reaching Glens Falls by train, they hiked for five days through dense forest to reach Blue Mountain Lake.
In spring, 1874, Tyler Merwin “employed a crew of men to build a set of shanties, clear up some land, and plant some potatoes to help feed a crew of lumbermen the next winter.” Merwin and his men logged two tracts of land, one on Blue Mountain and another around nearby Tirrell Pond, three miles to the north.
In the last quarter of the 1800s, the Adirondacks became a popular vacation destination. Wealthy summer tourists came to spend several weeks or more each summer, escaping the heat and smog of urban life. Tyler Merwin put up overnight guests, first in crude rooms in the lumber camp, then in a log “annex.” In 1880, he built a large frame hotel with a broad veranda overlooking the lake. By 1907, Merwin’s Blue Mountain House hotel could accommodate as many as 100 guests.
True to his Puritan background, Merwin banned the use of alcohol and tobacco on hotel grounds, although he did offer amusements including “ping-pong, piano, Victrola, radio, and when occasion demands, square and regular dancing.” (source)
Bull Cottage sits on Merwin Hill, named after Tyler Merwin. This was the location of 20-some other structures contemporaneous to Bull Cottage, which had been built on divided parcels of land that Merwin sold to vacationers in the 1890s. Few of these original cottages remain, but in the wooded hillside behind Bull Cottage you can still see the remnants of them, in the form of stone staircases that lead to nothing, and stone fireplaces whose cottages have disintegrated around them. In the picture to the left, you can just barely see an old chimney rising up from between the trees.
In 1901, Bull Cottage was purchased for $100 from Merwin by Reverence Clarence Archibald Bull (1871 – 1944), who spent his summers here. As an exhibit, and part of the greater museum campus, Bull Cottage is now fully accessible to the public during the museum’s on-season. The interior decoration of the cottage features the Adirondack Rustic style – the artifacts represent a wide array of historic craftsmen and artisans from the Adirondack region, some of the artifacts even coming from the famous ‘Great Camps’ of the region.
As I said, I will continue to share my explorations of various historic sites on the museum grounds as I explore them!