Great Camps of the Adirondacks

Harvey Kaiser traces the history of the Adirondacks from their first sighting by a European in 1535, through the eras of trapping, iron mining, and lumbering, to the development of railroad and steamboat lines that led to the influx of tourists and the building of the ‘Great Camps.’ The sixty years from 1870 to 1930 were the heyday of these camps, the ‘Gilded Age’ of the Adirondacks, and Kaiser gives a fascinating account both of the personalities who engineered and financed these fabulous structures and of the buildings themselves.

More than forty years after the Depression put an end to this princely life-style, the camps themselves are threatened by the forces of politics and nature. In Great Camps of the Adirondacks, Kaiser makes a strong case for preservation: the obliteration of these remarkable structures would be an irreparable loss not only to our architectural heritage but to every individual to whom they are a resource and an inspiration.

Harvey H. Kaiser served as the Senior Vice President for Facilities Administration and University Architect at Syracuse University between 1972 and 1995. His 1982 book Great Camps of the Adirondacks popularized the term “Great Camps” to refer to the grand summer residences that wealthy families built in the Adirondack Mountains in the nineteenth century, and revitalized interest in these now-abandoned sites. Several studies on western national park architecture culminated in his 2008 book The National Park Architecture Sourcebook. Kaiser now runs Harvey H. Kaiser Associates, a consulting firm specializing in architecture, urban planning, and facilities management.