The Robbins Estate

At the age of 11, Daniel Cook Robbins went to work as an apothecary’s apprentice. At 18, he joined Olcott & McKesson in New York, and began formal studies, graduating in 1836 from the New York College of Pharmacy. In 1841, he became a partner, and with the death of Charles Olcott in 1853, the firm became McKesson & Robbins. The firm was the first to put quinine and other drugs in capsules and pills, allowing for easy-to-administer, precise dosages. They had long provided medicines for the sea chests of commercial sailors; when the Civil War broke out, they equipped the entire Union army, and made a bundle.

Robbins lived in Brooklyn, but some time between 1867 and 1870, he bought land for a summer home in Skaneateles. (Some histories say the first Robbins house was built in 1867; E.N. Leslie writes that Robbins did not acquire the land until 1870.) The property on the west shore of Skaneateles Lake had been owned by a series of locals, including Richard Talcott, and Frances and Edward Potter, and for a time was the site of the cottage of the famed Quaker educator, Lydia P. Mott.

Robbins was linked to Skaneateles by his wife, the former Matilda Louisa Frost. She was a daughter of Russell Frost, a Quaker who owned land on the west side of the lake, and she married Daniel Robbins here in 1846. Her sister, Amie Ann Frost, married Anson Lapham, a prosperous Quaker merchant; they lived at “Lake Home,” today’s Roosevelt Hall. When Robbins built his summer place just up the road from the Lapham estate, the two sisters became neighbors, in a grand style, in the village where they had grown up.

In later years, the family was remembered thusly:

“It was there that the Robbins family — for there were a large number of boys and girls — spent the greater part of their childhood and were reared and educated under private tutors. They were known as beautiful, dashing children, full of life and vivacity, notwithstanding the Quaker origin on both sides of the family.”

The estate began with one main house, and grew. It had its own orchard, a vegetable garden, its own flower garden (and a gardener), and a stable for 10 horses and the necessary carriages.

:: 1872 ::

The Skaneateles Press reports that F.G. Moeller of Rochester is landscaping the grounds at the Robbins place.

:: 1874 ::

In the Atlas of Onondaga County, New York by Homer D. L. Sweet, published in New York by Walker Bros. & Co., the Robbins estate appears, showing a road within the estate that links it with Anson Lapham’s “Lake Home” estate to the north.

:: 1878 ::

In July, Daniel Robbins begins payments to the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead, for plans and construction of an annex to the main house, to hold his growing family of children and in-laws. The home will be in the Shingle Style, of which Charles Follen McKim is a master.

:: 1879 ::

In September, 14 months after the beginning of the Annex project, Stanford White joins McKim, Mead and the firm becomes McKim, Mead & White.

The Annex is one of two McKim, Mead & White projects underway in Skaneateles at this time. In March of 1879, Frederick Roosevelt contracted to have a summer home designed by the firm. The Roosevelts’ house (today Stella Maris), designed by William Mead, was built in pieces in New York City, shipped to Skaneateles and assembled here in 1880 and 1881; the interiors were designed by Stanford White. It is conceivable that White also contributed to McKim’s Annex in the same way.

:: 1882 ::

Robbins’ daughter, Jessie Ann, said to be the most beautiful and vivacious of the Robbins girls, marries Henry T. Sloane, heir to a fortune made in carpets and home furnishings. Although his main interests are the family business and staying home, he finances Jessie’s rise in New York society circles.

:: 1883 ::

The Annex is formally completed (as noted in The Life and Times of Charles Follen McKim, published in 1929).

:: 1885 ::

At his New York office, Daniel C. Robbins refers to his junior partner (by inheritance), John McKesson Jr., as an “impudent young puppy” and seizes his ear. In court, an aggrieved Mr. McKesson testifies, “He hurt my feelings and made my ear tingle.”

:: 1888 ::

On April 15th, Daniel Robbins dies of a heart attack while out for his customary afternoon walk in Brooklyn. He leaves a widow, three sons and three daughters. Soon thereafter, the family puts the Skaneateles estate up for sale.

:: 1895 ::

Five businessmen from Syracuse — John Dunn, Oscar F. Soule, Frank Channing Soule, William Spalding, J. William Wilson — in search of a summer retreat for their families, learn about the Robbins estate. They incorporate as “Mingo Lodge,” paying $31.25 to the New York State Treasurer for the privilege. They start with $25,000 in capital and buy the estate. The Skaneateles Democrat notes:

“Besides the large dwelling, which is elegantly finished, there is an annex about fifty feet from the house, for the children. There are also two large barns and other substantial out-buildings. The grounds are 12 acres in extent and slope to the lake. The entire effect is very picturesque. The purchase price is said to have been $17,000, much less than had heretofore been refused by the executors of the Robbins’ estate.”

For the name of the corporation and estate,  the Union Springs Advertiser gives this explanation:

“The name Mingo was chosen, as typifying the community aspect after the manner of the meeting of the five nations on the shores of Onondaga.”

This is fuzzy. The Mingos did not gather “on the shores of Onondaga,” but in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. They were a loose confederation of Senecas, Cayugas, Delawares and Wyandot, rather than the original five nations of the Iroquois.

However, the name “Mingo Lodge” was popular at the time, especially among fraternal orders. There were Mingo Lodges aplenty among the Free and Accepted Masons, the International Order of Odd Fellows, the Independent Order of Good Templars, the Knights of Pythias, the Improved Order of Red Men, as well as the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen, and the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers.

In June, the Skaneateles Press reports, “There has been a rumor that the gentlemen were to build a hotel and a number of summer cottages on the ground, but there was no truth in such a rumor.”

In August, the newspaper reports:

“The inmates of Mingo Lodge, mostly Syracuse people, made a delightful tour of the lake on Monday, the party traveling in a steam yacht which stopped at the cottages of several of their Syracuse friends. On the yacht were Mr. and Mrs. John Dunn, Jr., Miss Dunn, Mr. & Mrs. William J. Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. William Spaulding of Syracuse; Mr. and Mrs. Albert E. Brockway, Howard Brockway, Mrs. Brockway and Miss Brockway of Brooklyn; Thomas Dunn and his family, Mr. and Mrs. Soule and E. B. Salmon of Syracuse, and Miss Earle of Skaneateles.

“Howard Brockway, who has just returned from a five years’ study of music in Germany, and who shows remarkable talent, is a guest at Mingo Lodge. Prof. Albert Brockway, who is superintending the work on the new Medical college in Syracuse, is also quite a frequent visitor here, his family remaining at Mingo Lodge.”

[Howard Brockway studied composition and piano in Berlin. Upon his return, he taught piano and composition at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, and the National Institute of Musical Art (now Juilliard) in New York City. His compositions included orchestral, chamber, choral and piano works. More interestingly, he accompanied Loraine Wyman, one of the first “song catchers,” into the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky in 1914 and 1916. She wrote down the words to folk songs; he wrote down the melodies. They published two volumes, Lonesome Tunes (1916) and Twenty Kentucky Mountain Songs (1920).]

In October, Bertha Wilson (Mrs. J. William Wilson), an Alpha Phi at Syracuse University, class of 1882, hosts a gathering of her sisters, described in The Alpha Phi Quarterly of November 1895:

“The Central New York (Onondaga) Alumnae Chapter of Alpha Phi held its meeting October 12, 1895, with Bertha Holden Wilson at Mingo Lodge, her beautiful summer home on Skaneateles Lake. The unpleasant weather did not prevent a large delegation from accepting Sister Bertha’s hospitality. The rain which came down in torrents early in the morning ceased before noon so that in spite of the dampness, groups of enthusiastic Alpha Phis could be seen strolling up and down the walks leading from the Lodge to the boat house, where there was a beautiful view of the opposite shores, brilliant with autumn foliage.

“About two o’clock, a delicious luncheon was served, after which all gathered around a glowing grate fire which, owing to the cold, presented even greater attractions than the scenery outside. The meeting was then called to order and the time passed so quickly in discussing the repairs to be made on the chapter hall, among other things, that train time came as train time will, all too soon, but a very enthusiastic delegation of old girls had spent a most helpful and enjoyable day.”

:: 1896 ::

In June, Mrs. Oscar F. Soule entertains 70 women of the Home and Foreign Missionary societies of the Fourth Presbyterian Church. At 7:40 a.m. the party leaves Syracuse on a special car; they spend the morning on the grounds and the lake, enjoy luncheon, and then hold their meeting in the afternoon. The party returns to the city about 7 o’clock.

:: 1897 ::

In August of 1897, the Syracuse Post-Standard prints a long and lavishly illustrated article about Mingo Lodge. Here are some rhapsodic excerpts:

“… fair Mingo by the Lake stands as a noble representation of the perfection of co-operative housekeeping. A beautiful drive is made from Skaneateles village, past stately houses, with grounds sweeping lakeward, past white painted and less pretentious houses, under arching trees and over smooth roads until the turn is made through an imposing stone archway into the grounds…

“The houses were bought as they stood, completely furnished. The main house was built about thirty years ago [Note: This may be the source of the 1867 date] by a Mr. Robbins… As his family grew up and married, it was his wish that the annual reunion should be continued during his lifetime, and for this use the ‘annex’ was built about thirteen years ago. [Note: That would be about 1884, however, we know that the annex was begun in 1878, as that was when Robbins began paying the firm of McKim, Mead for its design.]

“The ‘Main House’ is of colonial architecture with broad galleries or verandas across the front and rear. A wide hallway runs through the center. The parlor stretches the entire length of the building on the left. The archway between the rooms is handsomely carved in colonial design. These rooms immediately elicit the exclamation from a modern mind: ‘What an elegant place to dance.’

“To the right of the hall opens the library, and also the dining room where the occupants of both houses dine around the festive board. The long tables stretch the length of the room. The mantle, arranged with a luxuriant growth of ferns, gives a ‘woody’ atmosphere to the room and each window is an unparalleled picture of the blue waters of the Skaneateles.

“A short distance from the main house is the ‘Annex,’ where the children are domiciled, and which has been designated the general lounging place of the entire family.

“The first room upon entering is the general ‘assembly’ room. There a broad stairway winds to the upper story.

“From the assembly room is an archway opening through to the music room, where a piano, gramophone and musical instruments offer innumerable opportunities for those musically inclined.”

Mrs. Frank Soule has the responsibility for feeding the 35 summer residents, and she runs a tight ship.

“Breakfast is served at 7 prompt, which enables the masculine element to leave for business in Syracuse; lunch at 1; supper for the children at 5:30, after which they retire, and dinner at 7 in the evening at which time the men have returned to gather around the hospitable board.

“A gardener who has been on the place for many years looks after the grounds and lives in a little cottage near by during the winter… The grounds connected with the lodge were originally laid out by a landscape gardener and contain every every species of tree native to the climate.

“A vegetable garden of ample proportions and a flower garden are features of the grounds and are protected from view by a stone wall. Fruit of every description is found on the place.

“A fine turf tennis court is marked out, and for those aquatically inclined the pretty boathouse at the water’s edge is well equipped with the finest St. Lawrence boats. The second story with a veranda is a charming retreat for an afternoon with a book or fancy work.”

Families resident in this domestic paradise in the summer of 1887 include Mr. & Mrs. Frank Soule and children, Mr. & Mrs. John S. Gray and their family, Mr. & Mrs. Oscar Soule, Mr. & Mrs. William Spalding, Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Petit and their daughter, and Miss Helen Dunn.

:: 1898 ::

Over the autumn and winter, work is done on the Mingo Lodge Annex. In November, William J. Williams is given the contract for masonry, and in December, Andrew Leiber, the builder, buys 50,000 feet of lumber from W.S. Hoag & Son for an addition.

In February, Mr. Leiber is distracted for a bit when his son Grover falls through the ice while skating with companions out on the lake. Fortunately, after a struggle, the boy’s friends haul Grover safely out of his “chilly bath.”

On June 1st, the newspaper reports that “several Syracuse families” are expected on the 15th and that the renovations continue.

Also in June, members of the Onondaga Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution meet and decide to “sew through the summer” for the D.A.R. Hospital Corps. The Chapter is greatly indebted to persons who take work and have it done at their homes, noting that Grace Gere (Mrs. Frank C.) Soule, of Mingo Lodge, has made night shirts.

In December, H.T. Sloane and Jessie Robbins Sloane separate. The Syracuse Evening Herald reports:

“It has been whispered in Skaneateles for several years that Sloane was an invalid and that the couple were not entirely happy, as Mrs. Sloane, although approaching 40 years, was still as lively and vivacious as in her younger days. The separation, therefore, does not occasion much surprise in Skaneateles.”

:: 1899 ::

Henry T. Sloane sends two detectives to Skaneateles in search of evidence of his wife’s infidelity. The detectives tell villagers they are in search of an heir to a fortune, but mostly ask questions about Perry Belmont. One local notes that Belmont gave him $10 for a ride to the New York train on a Sunday morning, but that is all Sloane’s men are able to pry from the populace.

On April 28, at 3:20 p.m., Henry T. Sloane is granted a divorce from Jessie Robbins Sloane. The decree states that Mrs. Sloane cannot see her daughters (aged 16 and 9), until they are 21 years of age, and that she cannot marry while Mr. Sloane is alive. There is one loophole: She is only forbidden to marry in New York State. Thus, at 6:30 pm., Perry Belmont catches a train from Grand Central Station to Greenwich, Connecticut. Thirty minutes later, Mrs. Henry T. Sloane, her maid and two attorneys catch the 7 p.m. train. Upon his arrival, Mr. Belmont is frustrated to learn that the Town Clerk has left City Hall. A bystander directs him to the home of the Assistant Town Clerk, where, with the incentive of a $50 bill, Mr. Belmont persuades the clerk to return to City Hall and issue a marriage license. Belmont then dashes to the train station in time to meet Mrs. Sloane, while Mr. Frederick A. Hubbard, an attorney for Mrs. Sloane, goes to the parsonage of the Second Congregational Church to prime the Rev. Dr. Walter M. Barrows for the impending ceremony. The party gathers in the parsonage where a fire is burning in the fireplace and the mantel is decked with ferns. At 8:30 p.m., Mrs. Henry T. Sloane becomes Mrs. Perry Belmont, less than six hours after her divorce. She is, according to the New York Times, as happy as a bride can be.

The newlyweds catch the next train for New York, and in New York board the train to Washington, D.C. The following morning, when they are far, far away, all Hell breaks loose.

The story headlines the New York papers. Society professes to be shocked and scandalized. Attorney Hubbard denies that he deceived the clergyman about the timing of the bride’s divorce, while admitting that he paid the man $250 for the ceremony, and doubled the sum when the clergyman expressed misgivings. The Rev. Dr. Barrows is pilloried for performing the ceremony; he returns the $500 to Perry Belmont; his church stands by him but the General Association of Congregational Ministers censures him. (A sensitive man, the Rev. Dr. Barrows takes ill, and dies in August; he is 52 years old, and leaves a wife and several children.)

Back in Skaneateles, life goes on. In June, Mrs. Oscar F. Soule and Mrs. Frank C. Soule treat the West Onondaga Street Whist Club to a day at Mingo Lodge, including luncheon and whist. In July, they host the Saturday Night Whist Club.

:: 1901 ::

Mr. & Mrs. Oscar F. Soule, Miss Natalie Soule Swart, Frank C. Soule and family, Mr. & Mrs. F.C. Howlett and daughter, Mr. & Mrs. A.E. Nettleton, and J.H. Bradley summer at Mingo Lodge.

About this time, local photographer and merchant Herbert A. Livingston creates a photo postcard of the estate.

The gate opening onto West Lake Street

The main house

The Annex

The main house on the left, and the Annex on the right.

The steam launch and the boat house

The terraced gardens seen from the main house, with the eastern shore of the lake in the distance

The terraced gardens seen from the lake shore

:: 1902 ::

In a report on the Village, the New York State Department of Health notes that the “Mingo Club House” has a cesspit which probably leaches to the lake. Previous to 1896, its sewage was conveyed directly to the lake by a private drain (as was the case with a majority of West Lake and East Genesee Street residences).

:: 1903 ::

Frederick M. Thomas, designing engineer, submits a plan for a sewage system for the village of Skaneateles. With regards to West Lake Street, he reports that because of the site’s elevation, a sewage system with a lift pump “will give better service to the clubhouse known as ‘Mingo Lodge,’ and to the residences of Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Hanna than that [sewer pipe] in the street.”  Swimmers rejoice.

In June, Miss Natalie “Nettie” Soule Swart, niece of Mr. & Mrs. Oscar Soule, and Horace Blanchard Howlett of Cambridge, Massachusetts, are married in the large parlor of the main house, after rain spoils their plans for an outdoor wedding. The Rev. O.L. White officiates. (The couple is married less than three years; in April 1906, Mr. Howlett dies following an operation for appendicitis in Florence, Italy.)

In August, the Mingo Lodge corporation sells off two building lots, including one containing “a fine young orchard; pears, plums, peaches, grapes, etc.”, shrinking the original estate.

Mingo Lodge as seen from the lakeshore: The Main House on the left (today’s Westgate) and the Annex on the right (today’s Mingo Lodge)

:: 1904 ::

Munsey’s Magazine features an article,“Cooperative Housekeeping,” by Christine Terhune Herrick who describes the arrangement:

“One of the most attractive of these enterprises was Mingo Lodge on the shores of Lake Skaneateles in central New York. Here, for several years, five Syracuse families cooperated with apparent success. They had a housekeeper, a chef, good servants, and the usual number of rules and regulations. For a while, they paid board to the housekeeper who ran the establishment, but later each woman of the five families took a department, one the kitchen, one the dining room, another the sleeping rooms, and so on.

“The first to give warning was the one in charge of the cooking. She found that her responsibilities were incompatible with summer rest, so she withdrew and the other housekeepers followed suit. It speaks well for the amiability of all concerned that the five families are said to be still on friendly terms with one another.”

In February, the Mingo Lodge corporation first puts Mingo Lodge up for sale.

However, the estate does not sell immediately, and is rented out for the summer, or by the week, for the next few years.

In October, Mrs. Frank Soule hosts a gathering of the Women’s Association of the Syracuse Homeopathic Hospital.

:: 1905 ::

In June, Mingo Lodge is borrowed by Samuel Montgomery Roosevelt of Roosevelt Hall to house the overflow of guests for the wedding of his wife’s daughter, Augusta Boyleston, on Flag Day.

In July, the Syracuse Journal reports:

“John Wilkinson, engineer of the H.H. Franklin Manufacturing company, drives his motor to and from his summer home, “Mingo Lodge,” Skaneateles, daily. It is no doubt a safe bet that all existing records between Syracuse and Skaneateles will be broken before the summer is over.”

:: 1906 ::

Mingo Lodge is leased for the summer by N.R. Colton of the Onondaga Savings bank. Mr. & Mrs. Fred Krebs are engaged to “conduct the dining room.”

In July, Mrs. Lucius S. Denison and Miss Ella Hurst Denison visit, and Mrs. Albert Fisher and her family are “sojourning” for three weeks. In August, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Carter Haskell give a dinner for Mr. & Mrs. Walter Merriam, Dr. & Mrs. Elisha Dyer Leffingwell and. Mrs. George W. Lawrence of Pelham Heights, N.Y.

Also that summer, the village lays crushed stone on West Lake Street from the southern part of Mingo Lodge to Genesee Street.

In September, Mrs. Henry Hubbard and daughter Elizabeth are guests. Also in September, Mingo Lodge is borrowed to house overnight guests attending the wedding of Samuel Roosevelt Outerbridge and Amie Willetts, daughter of Mrs. J.C. Willetts of New York and Skaneateles. Mrs. Willetts cannot accommodate everyone at The Boulders, the family home on Genesee Street.

:: 1907 ::

In July, the Skaneateles Press reports:

“The 36-ft. electric cabin launch, Bella Josephine, owned by Frank S. Upton of Rochester, who is occupying Mingo Lodge for the summer, arrived in town Friday, and was unloaded and launched in good shape by Truckman Ludington, under the supervision of George Smith. The boat was built by the Bayonne (N.J.) Electric Launch Company. It was in commission last year in waters in the vicinity of New York. It is a thoroughly appointed, up-to-date craft. Arthur McLaughlin will have charge of the boat, which is a fine addition to the already large fleet of power boats on our lake.”

:: 1908 ::

While fishing off the Mingo Lodge boathouse, Philip Baker catches a three-foot eel, weighing three and one half pounds. The Skaneateles Press makes no mention of what Mr. Baker said at the moment the eel exploded from the water.

Mr. & Mrs. Harry Cook Pierce, Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Howlett Durston, Dr. & Mrs. Edward S. Van Dyne, Dr. & Mrs. Mead Van Zile Belden, and Mr. & Mrs. Harlow C. Clarke summer at the lodge.

:: 1909 ::

Mr. & Mrs. William B. Gere, Mr. & Mrs. Justin A. Seubert and Mr. & Mrs. Hubbard Peck are at Mingo Lodge for the summer. They are followed by Mrs. C. Henry Hubbard and her daughter Elizabeth, and Mrs. John Francis Nash and children.

:: 1910 ::

In April, after “lively bidding,” Mingo Lodge is sold at auction to attorney Howard P. Dennison of Syracuse for $21,000. Denison is one of the best known patent attorneys in the U.S.A., a lecturer in patent law at the Syracuse University College of Law, and at one time the president of the Skaneateles Country Club. In Syracuse, he lives in a home on Walnut Park (today’s Tri-Delt sorority house), designed for him by Archimedes Russel.

Denison’s intent is to sell off whichever of the two houses he can. Mingo Lodge at this time includes the two houses, a stable, garage and boat house, eight acres of land on one side of the road, and five acres on the west side of the street which have been used as a vegetable garden, with a caretaker’s house on the latter property.

On April 12th, Denison advertises in the Syracuse Post-Standard:

Mingo Lodge. I have purchased the famous ‘Mingo Lodge’ property on the west shore of Skaneateles lake. There is more of this property than I can use and am offering either the Annex–a cottage which cost $24,000 to build and a Boathouse 30×40 with 150 feet front on the road and same on the lake front and between 700 and 800 feet deep, or the ‘LODGE’–a large and commodious two-story house with central hall extending from front to rear with spacious verandas on both sides, with same size grounds.

“The ‘Lodge’ has a basement kitchen and servants’ quarters on the third floor, three complete bathrooms, electric lights, city water and sewerage.

“The buildings are both located on an eminence amid beautiful trees and overlook the lake to the east and about 400 feet distance, and are about the same distance from the highway.”

In May, Denison advertises in House & Garden magazine:

In August, his wife also advertises, in the local paper:

“WANTED Second girl at Mingo Lodge, Skaneateles. Position permanent to competent person. Mrs. H.P. Denison.”

It is worthy of note that Mrs. Denison (the former Mary Elizabeth Hildreth) revolutionized Waldorf Salad with the inclusion of orange rind, and contributed her recipe to The Good Housekeeping Woman’s Home Cook Book (1909).

In September, Mr. Dennison sells the stable and a shed on the east side of road, on the condition that the buildings be taken away immediately.

:: 1912 ::

In April, Denison finds a buyer, selling the Mingo Lodge Annex and four acres of land to Henry Draper of Boston. It is here that the two houses part ways, and their histories diverge. In May, the Skaneateles Democrat reports:

“The annex is a mammoth two and a half story frame house and commands a fine view of the lake. Mr. Denison will make more space between the dwellings by moving the old house, which he retains for a summer home, further south and will restore the grounds and gardens to their former beauty. Mr. Draper will also make some changes to the annex and expects to entertain a great number of friends there the coming season.”

This is the first and last mention ever of Henry Draper in the Skaneateles newspapers, and within two years, the Annex will be in other hands.

:: 1913 ::

While Denison initially referred to the main house as “the Lodge,” it would appear that the Annex is now known as “Mingo Lodge,” possibly because it is the more “lodge-like” of the two houses. At some point, the Denisons begin to refer to the main house as “Mingo Manor,” to avoid confusion.

The Skaneateles Press reports, “One of the most popular of the many pretty summer places surrounding beautiful Skaneateles lake is Mingo Lodge. The several families occupying the lodge this year are not spending the season, but go out for the week-ends or a few days during the week as their pleasure dictates.” The families include Mr. & Mrs. Frank E. Wade, Mr. & Mrs. Harald Ahlquist, Mr. & Mrs. Harold Stone, and Mr. & Mrs. Dana Hyde. Before closing for the summer, they throw one last party in September. Guests include Mr. & Mrs. Wilbur S. Peck, Mr. & Mrs. Carl L. Amos, and Mr. & Mrs. William A. Mackenzie Jr. There is dancing after dinner.

:: 1914 ::

Mingo Lodge (formerly the Annex) is purchased by Samuel Montgomery Roosevelt, who has owns the adjacent Roosevelt Hall. In April, Charles and Sarah Tooke of Saranac Lake rent the home from Roosevelt for the summer, expecting to arrive on May 1.

On October 14th, Mrs. Tooke dies at Mingo Lodge after a long illness. The daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Forest G. Weeks, Sarah Louise Weeks Tooke grew up in Skaneateles, attended Skaneateles High School and Syracuse University. Her funeral is held at home.

:: 1915 ::

On July 27th, Gustave Stickley, owner and editor of The Craftsman magazine, is the guest of Howard P. Denison at the main house.

Summering at Mingo Lodge are Mr. & Mrs. Dana C. Hyde; Mrs. Hyde will return the following year.

:: 1917 ::

Mr. & Mrs. William Dunning of Syracuse and Mr. & Mrs. Ives B. Cooper of Greenwich, Connecticut, summer at Mingo Lodge.

:: 1919 ::

In the autumn, Harold C. Beatty purchases Mingo Lodge and plans to occupy it for the summer of 1920. Beatty is a banker and lawyer from Syracuse, and previously had a summer place in Skaneateles, on Genesee Street, which he sells in 1920 to Mrs. Clarence E. Wolcott. (In 1913, Beatty was a founding member of the Skaneateles Country Club.)

:: 1926 ::

Howard Denison, a widower since 1924, dies at his home on James Street in Syracuse. “Mingo Manor” passes to his surviving son, Winthrop Will Denison. W.W. Denison attended Williams College, and worked for a time as a stock broker in Syracuse, but eventually severed his business connections and chose to reside permanently in Skaneateles, living the life of a gentleman farmer. He is noted locally as an able hunter and fisherman.

:: 1931 ::

Mr. & Mrs. Beatty summer at Mingo Lodge. Mrs. Beatty is the former Anastasia Carter Miller. Originally from Kentucky, she is a graduate of Wellesley. They have two daughters, Cynthia and Laura, and a son, Harold Jr. The family winters in Syracuse.

:: 1932 ::

At Mingo Lodge for the holidays, the Beatty family opens the house for a benefit:

“Mrs. Harold C. Beatty and Miss Cynthia Beatty will give a silver tea at their home, Mingo Lodge on West Lake road, Thursday afternoon at 3:30 o’clock for the benefit of the Frontier Nursing Service in the Kentucky Mountains. Miss Beatty, who has just returned from the mountains, will give a talk on the work that is being done there. Donations of scraps of silk and knitting wools of any color or size are being asked for.”

:: 1934 ::

In Louisville, Kentucky, wealthy young Alice Speed Stoll is kidnapped from her home by Thomas H. Robinson Jr., a former employee of her husband’s oil company who is identified as “a young Nashville maniac.” Agents fear it may take time to apprehend him as he is also an accomplished cross-dresser. Bundled off to Indianapolis and held in a closet for six days, Mrs. Stoll is freed upon receipt of a $50,000 ransom. The case causes a national sensation, and is especially noteworthy in Skaneateles where Mrs. Stoll has been of guest of her childhood friend, Cynthia Beatty, at Mingo Lodge.

:: 1935 ::

In January, Cynthia Townley Beatty, engaged to Lt. Commander William Goodwin Ludlow, Jr., is the guest of honor at a tea in Washington, D.C., hosted by Mrs. Henry Latrobe Roosevelt (her next-door neighbor when in Skaneateles, at Roosevelt Hall).

In May, she marries Lt. Commander Ludlow at Mingo Lodge. The groom is a graduate of Annapolis (class of ’17), formerly stationed in Washington, D.C., where he was a naval aide at the White House. The bride is a graduate of Smith College (class of ’29).

:: 1936 ::

In March, Miss Laura McLeod Beatty is chosen as May Queen at the Warrenton Country Day School, of Warrenton, Virginia, where she is a senior.

In August, Mr. and Mrs. Stuart B. Taylor of Syracuse, and Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Downe of Paris, host a Sunday evening supper at Mingo Lodge where Mr. and Mrs. Taylor are spending the summer. Mr. Downe is the head of European operations for the American Radiator Company and his wife is a socialite who travels in rarified circles.

[At a luncheon Mrs. Downe hosted two years earlier, at the Pierre Hotel in New York, the guests included a German princess, an Italian countess, and the wives of some of the nation’s most successful businessmen. With influential friends on both sides of the Atlantic, Mr. & Mrs. Downes led efforts to protect Americans “stranded in Paris” during both World War I and II. As society goes, this was probably the most exalted couple to dine at Mingo Lodge.]

:: 1937 ::

In April, Cynthia Beatty Ludlow and her daughter come to Mingo Lodge from Coronado, California, to spend two months with her parents. Commander Ludlow is on maneuvers in the Pacific.

:: 1940 ::

William and Cynthia Ludlow, and their daughters, Anastasia and Josephine, come to Mingo Lodge to visit with Cynthia’s parents. They have just returned from two years stationed in the Philippines; Commander Ludlow will go on to his next duty station at Newport Naval College, Newport, R.I., while Cynthia and the children summer at Mingo Lodge. Miss Laura Beatty, also returned from the Philippines and the Far East, will summer at Mingo Lodge as well. And Mrs. Harold A. Beatty, and her children, George and David, from Detroit, also arrive for the summer. Anastasia Beatty’s sister, Mrs. Scott Weathers of Lexington, Kentucky, who has been a guest for a week, leaves the following day.

:: 1941 ::

On January 24th, Winthrop Will Denison is found dead in his bed at Mingo Manor. The newspaper reports that he is a victim of acute bronchitis which he had contracted the day before, and that his wife and daughter are also taken ill.

(In April of 2010, Mary Denison Scott, Winthrop’s daughter, sent me this correction: “My father died of  coronary thrombosis after a short bout with the flu and my mother and I did not get sick. We lived full time in Skaneateles when the house was winterized in the early to mid 30’s. Up to that time we spent the winter in our house in Syracuse. As to the (newspaper’s) reference that my mother wintered in Florida and Arizona while my father spent the winters in Skaneateles, that is not the case. In 1939 the whole family spent a year or so in Arizona because of my health.We drove out in a Ford station wagon. It seemed to me it took us forever. My father returned a little before we did, for business, and Mother and I stayed so I might finish the school year.”)

W.W. Denison had most recently shown interest in raising poultry, especially chickens, and was taking an extension course via Cornell University at the time of  his death. He was 42 years old.

In June, Commander Ludlow completes his training at Newport Naval College, and travels to his next duty station, Pearl Harbor.

Cynthia, her mother and the three children — Anastasia, Josephine and William Jr. — winter in Naples, Florida. On December 19th, Cynthia Ludlow learns that her husband, stationed on a flagship of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, has survived the Japanese attack of December 7th.

:: 1944 ::

On July 30th, Cynthia Ludlow leaves her three children in the care of their grandparents at Mingo Lodge and takes a train west to be with her husband, who will have leave in San Diego. Her son, 2 1/2 year old William Jr., after going boating with his grandfather, complains of a sore throat. On Monday morning at 6 a.m., he dies in his grandmother’s arms in their car, just outside the village, on the way to the hospital in Syracuse, the victim of a rare bronchial infection. Cynthia is contacted in Detroit and returns immediately; Captain Ludlow is flown east in a Navy plane. The child’s funeral is held at Mingo Lodge on August 2nd.

In December, Mr. & Mrs. Harold Beatty close Mingo Lodge. She will winter in Florida and he in Syracuse.

:: 1945 ::

In November, Harold and Anastasia Beatty sell Mingo Lodge to Mr. & Mrs. William B. Crosman. The Beattys travel to Naples, Florida, their winter home, stopping on the way in Easton, Maryland, to visit with their daughter and son-in-law, Captain and Mrs. William G. Ludlow.

For the first time, the Skaneateles Press refers to the original main house of the Robbins estate as “Westgate.” It is the home of Mr. & Mrs. Floyd V. Drake.

1949 – 1962

Westgate is the home of Weir Stewart, chairman of the board of a shoe manufacturer, Meadows, Marshall and Stewart of Auburn, N.Y., and chairman of the National Shoe Manufacturers’ Association.

:: 1952 ::

In March, Ann Crosman, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. William Crosman, is married at St. James’ Episcopal Church to Lt. John Turner Witte, USNR. The reception is held at Mingo Lodge.

:: 1961 ::

The Crosman’s welcome Laura Beatty Anthony, with her husband and three children, at Mingo Lodge, the home of her childhood.

1965 – 1968

Westgate is the home of Philip Ward Burton and Ellen Garber Burton (Wellesley ’36); in 1968, they host the wedding of Bruce G. Burton and Amy Orlopp.

:: 1969 ::

In June, a lawn party is held at Westgate, the lakeside residence of Mr. and Mrs. Waller Howard, after the Lakeside Seven sidewalk art show. Some 200 artists and guests attended. Mrs. Doris Masters, Skaneateles organist, plays old favorites for group singing led by Jack Baylis.

:: 1973 ::

In August, Lawrence and Lucia Barrett hold a tea at their home, Westgate, for teachers visiting from Europe as part of the American Host program.

:: 1974 ::

In December, the Crosman’s furniture, china, and “hundreds of small items” are sold at Mingo Lodge in a private sale run by Helen Checco.

:: 1976 ::

Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Kenan move into Westgate from their previous home on Elizabeth Street. Mingo Lodge is now owned by Dr. & Mrs. Paul Fallon.

:: 1979 ::

Cynthia Beatty Ludlow publishes a book called Historic Easton: Its History and Architecture. A resident of Talbot County, Maryland, since 1942, she notes that through her “diggings” she realized the history of the area could best be told through the buildings and homes of the people who have lived there.

:: 2016 ::

Mingo Lodge is sold by Dr. & Mrs. Paul Fallon, and torn down to make way for a new home.

* * *

Note: This obviously could become a life’s work, but I need to stop somewhere. I would be delighted to learn more, however, and welcome any additions and/or corrections. I am very grateful for the corrections shared by Mary Denison Scott, daughter of W.W. Denison of Mingo Manor.

Also, of the Mingo Lodge on Fourth Lake in the Adirondacks, I know little. As early as 1912, it was an estate owned by George Waterman (a manufacturer of hammers) of Little Falls, N.Y.; it was sold and turned into a resort in 1923, burnt down in 1926, rebuilt, and remains a resort today.

6 thoughts on “The Robbins Estate

  1. I am a great-great grandson of John McKesson, the partner of Daniel C. Robbins of Mingo Manor mentioned above. We (Fred and Nina Scott) lived on lower State Street before moving to Connecticut. McKesson’s youngest daughter Ida married William Sumner Perry whose second cousin was Perry Belmont. McKesson’s granddaughter Katherine Wolfe Brown married Allan D. Loney the son of Amos Loney who summered in Skaneateles. Allan’s mother married Katherine’s father when her mother died. It is probably through the Robbins connection that the McKessons were familar with the village and made the marriage connection. My mother was John McKesson’s great-grandchild. My father’s brother Tom married Mary Denison, the daughter of Helen and Winthrop Dennison of Mingo Manor.

    • My husband Paul and I have lived at Mingo Lodge since we purchased it in 1975. We raised our 7 children here. Two of our daughters had their wedding receptions on the front lawn. We live here year round and have done quite a bit of work restoring the home over the years, including rebuilding the boathouse to its former architecture. We are expecting our 38th grandchild in August (2010). We have had many celebrations here, as one can imagine, and during the summers, the grounds still resound with the laughter of many children.
      It has been a wonderful home to raise our family and share with many friends. We hope to continue to stay here for a long time,; however, the property taxes have become exhorbitant. Makes one wonder if staying here will be possible.

      • How fascinating to read all this history about Mingo Lodge. I loved going there in the summer to visit my grandparents; Anastasia and Harold Beatty. Vividly remember the boat house, the squeeky glider on the upper boat house veranda and the window seat at the end of the second floor hall in the main house. Such a lovely quiet spot for a little girl to curl up and listen to the mourning dove cooing. My parents, Cynthia & Wm. Ludlow, were married in the rose garden (2 terraces down from the front porch), on a chilly, windy day– I do have some lovely pictures of the wedding and a few shots of Mingo Lodge from the terrace. I would love to revisit some day Anastasia Beatty Ludlow Wrightson

      • Anastasia, Thank you so much for writing! Memories like this really bring these places to life, and I so appreciate you taking the time to share them. If you ever do visit, I would love to meet you, and see the photos. Best, Kihm

  2. Anatasia, The present owner writes:

    “We still have the “squeeky glider” at the boathouse, which we rebuilt several years ago to look like the original boathouse. Apparently the original boathouse had been damaged during a storm in the early ’50’s. The Crosman family salvaged what they could and had built a one story structure at that time.

    Our grandchildren often do curl up at the second floor window facing the lake to read as did our children. Seems like history repeats itself! Many years ago we put in a kitchen and mudroom, but essentially we have kept the unique character of the home trying not to destroy the mouldings, fireplaces, windows, etc.

    Now our 40 grandchildren are making their own happy memories here at Mingo Lodge. They spend most summer week-ends here and all the holidays thruout the year. They know every knick and cranny of the house and all the secret spots in the yard for making forts, etc.

    The daughter of the original Mrs. Beatty visited here several years ago. It was a very emotional visit for her, and she was able to supply us with more information about the history of the house.

    If Mrs. Wrightson comes to visit Skaneateles someday, tell her she is welcome to visit us.”


  3. Pingback: Mystery Solved – Skaneateles

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