The Great Camp Era
Sekon's history goes back to the era of Adirondack great camps in the late 1800s.
Isaac Newton Seligman, a New York investor and at the time one of the wealthiest men
in the country, developed his "Fish Rock Camp" , as the Sekon property was first
called. It is just north of Jules Bache's Wenona, which was built a few years later.
Joseph L. Seligman, Jr., the only grandson of Isaac N. Seligman, stated in letters to a
Sekon resident in 1982 and 1998 that the original camp was constructed by local
craftsmen in the late 1870s or early 1880s. However, subsequent research shows that
construction began in the 1890s. There were no roads around the lake at that time, so
the Seligman's reached their camp by taking a boat from the north end, the closest
spot to a rail spur. The entire original camp , except for the Hill house, burned to the
ground in 1904, accounting for the camp being the only one on the lake surrounded
by a lawn instead of trees, as it remains today. Most of the Sekon buildings which we
know today date from the reconstruction of the camp completed in 1905,so they are
more than 100 years old.
Joseph Seligman, born in 1913, spent most of the summers of his youth at his
grandparents' Fish Rock Camp. He recalls "a fabulous camp" with 32 master
bedrooms, lights by acetylene, a boathouse, and four living houses, which included
the Hill House, the main house, the dining hall and the winter house -- and a servant
staff of 30 to 50.
"During its heyday in the late '20s and '30s, Fish Rock Camp would accommodate
about 30 guests, and when we had more my mother would take her friends on a
camping trip or I would take mine. We'd go in canoes to Fish Creek Pond, Follensby,
or other places whose names I've forgotten. By 1940 many of our favorite camping
places had become public campgrounds, and I assume they still are," Joseph
The property which was to become Sekon also included another great camp just to the
north called Calumet. Calumet was the summer home of Isaac Seligman's brother
George and his sister, Mrs. Theodore (Frances) Hellman. Isaac Seligman was killed
in a horseback riding accident in 1917, but his widow Guta, a daughter of Soloman
Loeb, another famous family in Our Crowd, ran the camp until she became ill around
1931 or 1932. After that, Joseph Seligman's parents alternated summers using the
camp with his father's sister, who had married a Lewisohn, another famous Jewish
family who owned the great camp Prospect Point further north on the Upper Lake.
Wrote Joseph Seligman of his Fish Rock Camp recollections: "Mostly they are of
boyhood days. Tennis, water-skiing, camping and lots of people. We seldom sat at
the dining room table with less than 12 or 14, and often 25 or 30. Grandma's friends
were old and formal; my parents' friends did a lot of close harmony singing and
drinking; my friends were mostly boarding school friends. Camp was unlike any place
my friends had ever seen."
The Sekon Lodge Era
After the Great Camp era, Fish Rock Camp and Calumet were operated as an
all-inclusive Adirondack resort under the name Sekon Lodge. Old advertisements for
the resort boast of over 15 lodges "designed as Swiss chalets, many connected by
enclosed corridor, and several cabins are equipped with spacious living rooms,
bedrooms, private baths and open fireplaces." Daily rates per person ranged from
$15 to $23 and included three meals a day of "exceptionally fine cuisine."
The Sekon Auction
On July 11, 1964, the Sekon buildings and surrounding land were sold at auction.
Charles Vosburgh, a developer from Cortland, N.Y. , who had acquired the Sekon
Lodge, subdivided the property and marketed it as small, individual parcels, a profit
scheme he repeated many times in the Adirondacks on many similar properties. At a
crowded auction that day, 22 cottages and buildings, 9 lake-front lots and 26 other
parcels of land ranging up to 10 acres, went under the gavel.
The Sekon water and septic systems, the beach , the boat docks and roads were
assets held in common by the new multiple owners, a legally binding arrangement set
forth in the new property deeds. The new closely packed and interdependent
community required a homeowner association to govern it.
On August 2, 1964, just days after the auction, the first meeting of the Sekon
Association was held in the former guide house. Temporary officers were elected:
Larry McKillip, president; Mildred Goodrich, secretary and treasurer; and board
members E. Wendell Carrier, David H. Danker, Warren F. Longacker and Nolan Powell.
More than 40 years later, the Sekon Association continues to operate as the
homeowner association of the combined Sekon properties. The association operates
under a set of bylaws adopted by the membership and occasionally amended to suit
the needs of changing times. The association levies dues used to maintain roads, the
boat landing, the docks, the common beach and other necessities such as insurance.
Separate fees are levied among those Sekon owners whose homes are on the
association's common septic system. The common water system -- which once drew
water right out of the lake -- has been replaced by individual wells on each owner's
Each year Sekon Association holds a membership meeting and on that evening
organizes a steak roast and social event which routinely draws a hundred or more
present and former Sekon residents. Many original Sekon auction buyers watch as
their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gather to share food and games
at a cherished spot which has become their summer home, and for many, their place
of the heart.
(To read the most detailed Sekon history ever compiled click on the Longacker History
link in a box near the top left of this page. Follow the link to a time line of the camp
history at the top of this page.)