From the Source: The Artisans Behind the Lake Placid Lodge’s Handcrafted Decor
The rustic elegance of Lake Placid Lodge can’t be found at any other resort. That’s because there are many features and furniture pieces that have been handmade by local craftsmen in the area and are completely one-of-a-kind. Get to know the process behind some of the Lodge’s authentic Great Camp-style decor, including traditional masonry fireplaces, king-sized wooden beds, and creative art pieces.
MEET THE CRAFTSPEOPLE AND ARTISTS
When Barry Gregson sets out to make a chair, his first step is to wander through the forests of the Adirondacks, watching for branches that speak to him. He looks for curving pieces of ash, maple, yellow birch, and American hornbeam, which he sets aside to dry for a full year before fitting them together like a puzzle.
“Everything’s composed by going out in the woods and finding the right bends,” says the Schroon Lake craftsman, whose “Beer and Nuts Throne,” built for Maggie’s Pub at the Lake Placid Lodge, embodies his whimsical approach. With its organic shapes, twisting roots and twigs, and claw-like feet with the bark still on them, it looks like a seat for a fairy monarch.
Gregson’s work is among the dozens of spectacular handcrafted objects that collectively create the Lodge’s imaginative take on Adirondack Camp style made modern. Inspired by the luxury of the Gilded Age and the natural beauty of its surroundings, the décor pays homage to the building’s past lives while grounding it in the present with the contributions of local artists and furniture makers. (It’s no coincidence that the Lodge’s farm-to-table restaurant is called Artisans.)
Built in 1882 by a family of German immigrants, the original Great Camp passed from family to family – morphing from Schroeder Camp to Camp Coosa to Charlecote to Lake Placid Manor to Lake Placid Lodge – until a kitchen fire burned it to the ground in 2005. The reconstruction in 2008, by then owners David and Christie Garrett, founders of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, set out to replicate the original’s rustic 19th-century elegance while taking it up a notch.
Overseen by interior designer Joszi Meskan and TruexCullins Interiors Studio, the design seamlessly blended antiques with new additions, including 50 magnificent stone fireplaces made by Adirondack masons, king-sized beds with elaborately carved headboards, and art objects like the wooden porcupine, great blue heron, and other creatures placed throughout the grounds – made by local artist Jillian Post, whose degree in environmental science informs her true-to-life sculptures.
“It was such a fun project, helping to create this unique and artful atmosphere,” recalls Joann Post, Jillian’s mother; the two are co-owners of L. Post Rustics along with dad Larry and son Ryan. “We made cabinetry, painted lampshades, did detail work, reconfigured antiques.” They even crafted an oversized Parcheesi board to cover the TV in the wood-paneled game room at Maggie’s Pub (famously the only TV on the property).
The Posts have a gallery on Saranac Avenue in Lake Placid, and a workshop in Au Sable Forks, where they collaborate on specially commissioned pieces; one of their recent projects was a king-size bed with a total of 14 owls perched on the headboard and footboard. Their work weaves together multiple textures – birchbark, kilim, live edges, intricate carvings, and a wide variety of local woods, from white cedar and red osier dogwood to indigenous figured species.
The Lodge décor also encompasses the Mission, or Craftsman, aesthetic – evident in pieces like the 11-foot table and matching sideboard in the boardroom, made by Wayne Ignatuk of Jay, New York. The wood for both came from a single tree, and the tabletop is made of twin “bookmatched” slabs sliced from the same log and joined by butterfly keys, one of Ignatuk’s specialties. His work is also distinguished by the inventive integration of other materials: “If there’s a crack in a piece of wood, I might stitch it up with leather or copper wire, or use hammered copper to back a hole,” he explains.
Ignatuk’s creations, like those of each of the artisans represented in the Lodge, are distinctive and one-of-a-kind, yet the selection here shares a sense of permanence as well as a kind of playful grandeur. Gregson says he tests each of his chairs up to 40 times to ensure their stability and strength. “I want something I can guarantee won’t wear out, something that will last 200 years,” he says. It’s easy to imagine these timeless pieces becoming the antiques of the future, carrying the Great Camp tradition into the next centuries.