Great Camps of the Adirondacks

In 1982 we published what turned out to be the seminal book on an important corner of American architecture and social history. Harvey Kaiser’s Great Camps of the Adirondacks. It’s fair to admit that the book was not brilliantly written or produced at the time; it was our first book in full color and although it went through five printings we always thought we could, and should, do better. This completely revised and rewritten effort, containing new Great Camps examines in some detail how they were built and how they represent what the author has defined as “the Adirondack Rustic Style.” While the emphasis remains concentrated on the architecture of these remarkable vernacular structures, there is plenty of social history included as well, for it was primarily the wealthy who, in the nineteenth century, would travel in their private railway cars to spend the month of August at their expansive rustic retreats, supported (as always) by a large staff and knowledgable (if bemused) guides. In the twentieth century, the burden of preservation and construction has clearly shifted to captains of industry and admirals of finance, often fearless couples who have rescued camps in danger of demolition or dereliction and supported the initiatives of modern architects and builders to both rescue those in danger and build new ones from scratch.

Profusely illustrated with photographs, extensive captions, and a completely new and rewritten text, Kaiser has once again taken on the subject he knows better than anyone else in the country, and with style, enthusiasm, and purpose carried his firstborn into the new century.


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.