Sylvia Lake, NY
Sylvia Lake Hotel 1885 - 1968
The Sylvia Lake Hotel opened July 4, 1885. Located on the northwest shore of Sylvia Lake, the hotel was built by Murray and Alfred Treglown. At the opening party, guests were entertained by the musical styling's of Jim Noys, his wife, Sue, and son Charlie. The only down side of the event was that the “liquid refreshments ran out too soon.”
The postcard at the left shows the hotel as it might have appeared around 1919. At that time, Reuben Cary enlarged the structure and put in a boat dock and bath houses. He also had a slide constructed. The photograph below shows it in action. A ride on the slide cost 10¢ and later, 25¢ but it was dismantled when it was apparent that it was quite dangerous. Ouch!
In the 1920's the resort was promoted by Charles Force and activities like boat races and Saturday Night dances made the hotel a popular hang out for the young people of Gouverneur. It was the Jazz Age, after all. Summer visitors came from as far away as New York City, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. A combination dance hall and roller skating rink was built in 1926. In the late 1930's to the early 1940's, before World War II, the hotel was managed by Charlie and Minnie Force, assisted by their son Milton.
In the 1930's the only phone on the lake was at the hotel. If someone received a phone call, Milt Force would come out on the porch and yell your name. It also had an IN and OUT box for mail. Anyone could have mail delivered to the hotel.
Mr. Force had an inboard motor launch that he used to take guests on tours of the lake. Just like the big cruise boats, he would motor slowly by cottages and use a megaphone to announce, “and on your left is the summer home of --- who lives in ---.”
During the 1950's the Sylvia Lake Inn was owned by Ed Smith. The skating rink was managed by Richard Bickford...and it was wildly successful. At it height, as many as 150 people rented skates for 25¢. As soon as one person left, that pair was immediately rented to a waiting skater. Arthur Craig bought the hotel in 1954.
The story of the Sylvia Lake Hotel and Skating Rink ended in a blaze of glory. The hotel burned June 27, 1956. On December 16, 1968, another fire destroyed the building which was being used as a combination dance hall/ skating rink/ boat house/ bar and Inn.