Press-Republican

July 6, 2011

Eagle Island listed for sale at $3.75 million

KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

UPPER SARANAC LAKE — The shuttered and historic Girl Scout Camp on Eagle Island went on the real-estate market over the holiday weekend.

Signs are posted along the waterfront of the 31.2-acre island on Upper Saranac Lake, according to neighbors there.

LISTED AT $3.75 MILLION

The property is owned by Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey and was donated to a subset of that group, Girl Scout Council of Greater Essex and Hudson Counties of New Jersey, in 1937 by the Henry Graves Jr. family who had purchased it from original owner, former U.S. Vice President Levi P. Morton.

Listing agent Karen Mergenthaler at Merrill Thomas in Lake Placid confirmed the listed sale price of $3.75 million.

The property description is on Multiple Listing Service directories as a 10-bed, 13.5-bathroom, single-family home, built in an Adirondack Camp style in 1903.

Zoning listed on the property is Residential, in the Saranac Lake School District.

Franklin County records show Eagle Island was assessed at $2,248,632 in 2010, with the same value set as tentative assessment this year.

OFFER PUT IN

The Girl Scouts Board of Directors in New Jersey voted last October to divest their newly restructured group of the property, drawing great concern from a large number of former Eagle Island campers, who have since ramped up efforts to save or otherwise purchase the historic site.

Friends of Eagle Island Board Chairwoman Dorcas Hardy said they made an offer to Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey on July 1.

"And we will be making a formal statement at the Upper Saranac Lake Association on Saturday morning," Hardy said Tuesday.

"The price is certainly high," she said of the new listing.

PRESERVATION EYED

Friends of Eagle Island is researching options to preserve the site as both a historic landmark and a place for outdoor experience.

"But we don't own it yet," Hardy said. "Owners are the ones who make those types of preservation decisions. We asked Girls Scouts Heart of New Jersey to file for a Save America's Treasures grant in spring 2010," Hardy added.

"I understand — but never saw — they submitted that and was told they were unsuccessful."

Girl Scout Council CEO Susan Brooks did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment on the divestment process.

STRONG LEGACY

Hardy said the entire history of the island is extremely important, stepping deep into American, architectural and women's history.

The camp opened for girls in 1938, a time that included very different expectations for young women.

"There is such a legacy there," she said, "including the Graves' gift."

NOW A NONPROFIT

Friends of Eagle Island achieved nonprofit status in June with the express purpose of finding a recreational re-use plan for Eagle Island Camp.

Hardy named key aspects of their vision for the place, which would maintain and expand wilderness outdoor experience for young women and other youths.

It would serve both environmental education and historic preservation.

Eagle Island alumni span some 75 years in age, with Dart Emerson being the eldest living former camper at 89. The youngest former camper involved in the effort is 15.

Emerson attended the reunion held in 2008, when the Girl Scout camp reached its 70th year. It was, it turned out, the last year the camp was opened for summer use.

FAMED DESIGNER

Eagle Island Camp was designed and built by noted Adirondack architect William L. Coulter. The 31.2-acre property has 11 original Great Camp buildings, including a dining hall, "Mrs. Morton's" lodge and a guest cottage.

The rustic structures are considered by historians at Adirondack Architectural Heritage as the most intact examples of Coulter's original work, and several buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

The property was named a National Historic Landmark in 2004.

Email Kim Smith Dedam at: kdedam@pressrepublican.com