Lake Luzerne History & Museum

Local History

First settled in 1767 after the French and Indian War, Lake Luzerne began as part of the 4,100 acres petitioned for via grant by Edward and Ebenezer Jessup, amongst others. Corinth, Hadley, Warrensburg, Thurman, Chestertown, and Johnstown also come from these 4,100 acres. Much of this land came from the Mohawk tribes and Sir William Johnson, who ordered the construction of Fort William Henry in Lake George, NY. The Jessup Brothers founded Jessup’s Landing and Jessup’s Little Falls (located on the Hudson River). Life remained quiet and peaceful for the Jessup Brothers in our neck of the woods, until the American Revolution, when the Jessup Brothers (loyal to the English) enlisted to fight against the patriots in the American Revolution. After the war, the Jessup’s fled to Canada for their actions against the revolution.

 

Come April 10th 1792, land was taken from neighboring Queensbury and dubbed the Town of Fairfield.  It would not be until April 6th, 1808 that the town would be renamed Luzerne in honor of Anne-César de La Luzerne, a Major-General in the French Royal Army who also served as an official French diplomatic representative to the United States. We would be known as the Town of Luzerne until 1963, when legislation was passed to rename our community the Town of Lake Luzerne.

 

Another prominent figure in Lake Luzerne’s history is Lieutenant-Colonel Benjamin C. Butler, who served in the 93rd Infantry for the Union Army during the American Civil War. Butler built the Wayside Inn (now the site of the Hadley-Luzerne JR/SR High School), which catered to guests such as former US President Ulysses S. Grant, Sarah Bernhardt, the Vanderbilts, Diamond Jim Brady, Lillian Russell, and countless other prominent figures. Butler is also responsible for bringing the Delaware and Hudson Railroad to our neighbors in Hadley, NY. One of Butler’s other famed accomplishments is his funding of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. According to legend, Butler vowed to create a church if he survived the Civil War, which he accomplished upon his return to Lake Luzerne. The church remains active today, and houses a stained glass window which serves as a Civil War Memorial.

 

Our town’s biggest claim to fame (and best-kept secret) is being the birth place of the first wood pulp grinder not just in New York, but in the entire United States! Albrecht Pagenstecher was a pioneer in the wood pulp industry and created the first-ever wood pulp grinder here in Lake Luzerne, NY. The wood pulp mill is now a museum in Old Mill Park. Lake Luzerne is also known for its leather-work, and was home to the Garner Tannery (whose chimney remains standing downtown on Main Street). If you travel down to the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., check out some of the leather book covers and bindings—you might just see “Made in Lake Luzerne, NY” on them!


Local History Museums & Resources

Frances Kinnear Museum of Local History

52 Main Street
Lake Luzerne, NY 12846

Phone: (518) 696-4520
Hours:  Saturday 1 – 4 pm, July and August 11 am – 2 pm
Also open by appointment

Admission:  Donations accepted

The museum is a Victorian home furnished in the style of the day. Historical artifacts and a permanent exhibit room in the Museum tell about the Hadley/Luzerne area’s history in the Southern Adirondacks: farming, logging, grand hotels, manufacturing, dude ranches, and summer camps. For more information, visit their website: www.kinnearmuseum.blogspot.com/

Hadley-Luzerne Historical Society

PO Box 275
Lake Luzerne

Phone: (518) 696-4520

E mail: [email protected]

Pam Morin, Lake Luzerne Town Historian

P.O. Box 370
Lake Luzerne, NY 12846
Phone: (518) 696-2711 ext 6

Hours by appointment