Regarding your recent article on the future of Lake George (May 31) by Thom Randall, there are obviously different opinions on the paths which Lake George should choose as it changes in the coming years.
Lake George's past has evolved from grandeur and health benefits to leisure pastime to struggling community to summertime-only destination to today, a near year-round resort. One of the strong characters of Lake George and neighboring communities is that they have been able to persevere over the years. Unfortunately, many aesthetic qualities have been lost along the way.
Old buildings provide an aesthetic quality that many people enjoy and appreciate, and the Old Warren County Courthouse in Lake George village is one such building. Built in 1845, the building was "rescued" by determined residents from the possibility of demolition after Warren County moved its government offices to the current municipal center in 1963.
The true beauty of the old courthouse building is found in its architecture and interior design, with tin walls, high ceilings and wood banister. Other examples of old buildings that provide aesthetic value to Lake George are the Corner Stone gift shop (built in 1819), the U.S. Post Office, the four churches, and the old Grange Hall on Montcalm Street.
In The Post-Star article, a comment was made that the old courthouse should be torn down and replaced with a convention hall. This would obviously be beneficial to T-shirt shops and other businesses, but at the expense of Lake George losing another element of village character. Lake George most recently lost the movie theater building on Canada Street to a "modern" restaurant.
The village and town are fortunate to have the Forum which provides adequate space and convenience for large events. But imagine the Forum where the old courthouse sits now, at the corner of Canada and Amherst streets, sitting on the lake side of the street and forming a "wall" to block any view of the lake, much less not quite fitting in with any architecture in the village.
The old courthouse is currently the home of the Lake George Historical Association and Museum, the Lake George Arts Project, the Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board and the Community Maternity Services of Warren County.
The building provides an excellent atmosphere for the museum, allowing visitors to enjoy the exhibits as well as be educated about the region. Residents and tourists continue to visit the museum with 3,100 visitors in 2004, demonstrating that history is important to many people, especially visitors.
The significance of this history is illustrated by the existence of Fort William Henry, re-enactments that occur at the battlefield, the excursion boats (which carry on the tradition of carrying passengers throughout the lake), and groups such as Bateaux Below, which chronicle local history in the depths of the lake.
The Historical Association is governed by a board of trustees who are volunteers. It has a director and associate and the museum receives support and endorsement from the town and village boards of Lake George.
With the idea that history is an important part of the fabric of Lake George, the old courthouse is a sentinel for the past.
- Alex Parrott, a Lake George native, is the president of the Lake George Historical Association and a teaching assistant at Lake George High School. His family traces its roots in Lake George back to the turn of the 20th century. His great-uncle was a landowner and pastor of St. James Episcopal Church. His grandfather operated the mini-golf course at the corner of Beach Road and Canada Street. After leaving the community at the age of 12, Mr. Parrott returned to the area in 1997.