Resort Hotels of the Adirondacks

The Architecture of a Summer Paradise, 1850-1950

Bryant F. Tolles

During the 1850s, New York’s Adirondack region saw the birth of a leisure world centered in the area’s large resort hotels. These spectacular structures clearly reflected the dramatic social and technological changes that unfolded in the United States between 1850 and 1950. In his new book, Bryant F. Tolles, Jr. studies the architectural development of these extraordinary retreats in order to explore changing American attitudes toward nature and landscape, fashion and culture, transportation, and innovations of various sorts. He also delves into the resorts’ eventual decline, which was rooted in their vulnerability as wooden structures as well as in the ever-changing preferences of their guests. With over two hundred illustrations—many of them historic photographs, along with architectural plans, reproductions of printed “views,” and recent shots of the remaining hotels and their related buildings—Resort Hotels of the Adirondacks captures the glorious spirit of a bygone world and reveals fundamental shifts in American cultural expectations. Tolles brings his chronicle up to the present by exploring the two surviving grand Adirondack resort hotels—the second Hotel Champlain (at Bluff Point on Lake Champlain) and the third Sagamore Hotel (at Bolton Landing on Lake George). The book concludes with a discussion of several imaginatively conceived but never-built resort hotels. Tolles has utilized an authoritative array of sources, including guidebooks, local histories, newspaper articles, maps, county and town records, business records, guest correspondence, and diary entries. His comprehensive history creates a detailed picture of luxury in a resort setting and enriches our understanding of American life and culture during a period of radical change.

Cloth: $39.95
ISBN-13: 9781584650966
Pages: 292 | Size: 9 in. x 11 in.
Date Published: June 1, 2003


  • Highly readable, lavishly illustrated (including a color section), solidly researched, and well indexed, with an extensive bibliography, Resort Hotels of the Adirondacks is both authoritative and absorbing.

    New York History: Quarterly Journal of the NY State Historical Association
  • Mr. Tolles has assembled a tremendous array of vintage photographs, as well as floor plans, and he writes with skill, clarity and a historian's discipline. . . His footnotes are extensive, and the bibliography alone is a trove of useful Adirondack information and perspective. This meaty work will be referred to far into the future.

    Lake George Magazine
  • Tolles writes thoroughly but approachably on the hundred year heyday of these architectural dinosaurs, from the mammoth the merely modest.

    Adirondack Life
  • This attractive and informative book chronicles the architecture of Adirondack resort hotels . . . the text and photographs will help readers realize how amazing these resort hotels were and are.

    The Sunday Gazette (Schenectady
  • In his well-illustrated and meticulously researched study, Bryant Tolles has resurrected a fascinating array of once-imposing buildings and has illuminated much about the tourist industry that brought them into being. A vital contribution to the history of the Adirondacks.

    David Tatham
    Syracuse University

About the Author

Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.

Bryant F. Tolles, Jr., is professor emeritus of history at the University of Delaware. He is the author of Resort Hotels of the Adirondacks: The Architecture of a Summer Paradise, 1850–1950, Summer Cottages in the White Mountains: The Architecture of Leisure and Recreation, 1870 to 1930, The Grand Resort Hotels of the White Mountains: A Vanishing Architectural Legacy, and New Hampshire Architecture: An Illustrated Guide.

Carolyn K. Tolles …

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