Where was America’s First Winter Resort?
Lake Placid, NY in the Adirondacks, famously known as the host to the 1932 and 1980 Olympic games, has a winter sporting history that dates back much farther.
Built in 1907, “The Lake Placid Club” became a winter clubhouse allowing year-round visits and was host to more than 9,600 acres, 365 buildings, a theater, library, boathouses, 21 tennis courts, seven golf courses, farms, a fire department, and a school. Despite critics, the club’s founder Melvil Dewey was a huge advocate of winter sporting events and encouraged visitors especially during the winter months.
Melvil Dewey was known as the “Father of Modern Librarianship.” He was an extreme academic and famous for inventing the Dewey Decimal Classification at age 21, pioneering a new era in library and classification science. Among his other academic accomplishments, he established the American Library Association in 1876 and co-founded and edited the Library Journal. He was the librarian of Columbia University in 1883, where he would found the first library school in 1887. Later, in 1889 he would become the director of the New York State Library in Albany, NY.
Melvil and his first wife Anne founded the Lake Placid Club as a gathering place for those interested in the outdoors and science. It was actually Melvil Dewey’s son, Godfrey who was a key player in bringing the 1932 Olympics to Lake Placid, and the facilities that the Dewey family had built contributed towards qualifying it as a location for the games.
Unfortunately, the club had a reputation for being socially exclusive. Jewish and other socially stereotyped groups weren’t allowed to join the club. Once these rules were traced back to Dewey, he was forced to resign as New York State Librarian and focused on the club full-time there afterward. By 1977 membership at the club steadily declined whilst vacationing trends changed with the times. Air travel becoming easier meant that families had other winter skiing options and it opened up the map for ski resorts beyond what was within driving distance. The club closed shortly after being the headquarters for the International Olympic Committee during the 1980 Winter Olympics. In the 1990’s the club was often a place where arson and vandalism occurred, and finally in 2002, the last of the buildings were demolished.
Today the land that was once the Lake Placid Club is now owned by the Crowne Plaza Resort and Golf Club including 45 holes of scenic Adirondack golf.
Despite the fact that today with easy air travel you have endless options for winter vacationing, Lake Placid was and still is boasted as a monumental winter resort destination with a myriad of winter activities, including skiing, dog sledding, skating, and award winning lodging and spa accommodations. It remains a training ground for US winter Olympic teams and you can even get a ride down the track with the US Bobsled Team during winter or summer months.
Interested in a vacation home or property investment in Lake Placid? Contact us to find out more about what we can do for you and what the area has to offer your lifestyle goals.