Friday, June 10, 2016

Glimmerglass State Park

Glimmerglass, what an evocative name! Like Fern Cliffe, or Worlds End or Hearts Content, we would want to visit there if it were located in South Beach.  We nipped into Glimmerglass State Park after a day driving in the cold wind and rain.  We stopped fifty miles short of Adirondack Park because on June ninth they were predicting SNOW.


I'm assigning you the last electric site, said the cheerful attendant circling our map.  And THIS is the oldest covered bridge in the United States. WOW. 

 We set up quickly and hunkered down, enjoying the electric heater and delivering six or eight babies binge-watching Call the Midwife.    Next morning was windy but sunny.  Al needed relief from his post-partum cabin fever, so we were off wandering mown paths through hayfields, along trickles leading to beaver ponds...


Then this... 

It was built in 1825 on the newly patented Burr Truss and served one of the three entrances to Hyde Hall.

The road leading across the bridge is shaded by venerable Maples, gnarled and scarred but witness to two centuries.  In the silence we could nearly hear the oxen grunting, the harness creaking and the cart wheels bumping toward the mills.  

On the hill overlooking the full length of Lake Otsego, the first of several George Clarkes built his 50 room limestone mansion Hyde Hall.  It was built in stages in the English Neoclassical style (think Downton Abbey) no foundation plantings, gravel to the door step, unimagined elegance within. 

 As we approached the newly renovated gatehouse "Tintop", we were debating whether to sacrifice time and treasure to tour the inside.  We normally don't enjoy tours of "stuff" acquired by the landed gentry no matter how unique.  We love to hear the history of the land, a little gossip about the family, but when talk turns to wallpaper and China patterns, we are staring out the windows. So we were undecided until we saw this sign

OK Brendan "one of the two or three greatest houses in America."  Bring it on.  The video aerial tour and the glimpses of the grand rooms as well as the warmth and wit of the Lovely Joan won us over and loosed the purse strings.

The Hyde Clarke family lived in the home for 130 years before giving it up in 1963 as the Glimmerglass park was begun.  After a couple decades of disuse, it was slated to be dynamited before a trust took it over.    Joan told us there was a great deal to be restored and "sometimes re-restored" but she added that the view down the lake from the porch of the "cottage wing" was best part.  That's hard to dispute.

The grandest rooms were perhaps less grand than the video would suggest ..

...but amazingly, most of the family's furniture and art was present.  (One local citizen removed a precious marble fireplace when the dynamite plan was announced, but returned it when the restoration began.)  Overall, there was much traipsing through dusty corridors and work in progress.  Another tour member was astonished by the progress in the ten years since her last visit, so plan to check back later...or just bring a snack and relax on the porch and drink in the view...

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