“Porches: Character Defining Features.”

By: Amy Kane Phelps

Volume 18, Issue 7, July 2023

The Thousand Island Park Landmark Society is pleased to announce the return of its Cottage and Garden Tour this summer. To be held on Thursday, July 20th, the tour’s theme will be “Porches: Character Defining Features.”

Tour Cottage on Prospect Point

As one can observe on any given early evening in the Park, residents gather on their porches, regaling each other with stories of days gone by, and of current events and gossip, making our porches the heart of the summer home. In addition, usually being in a prominent position in the front of the cottage, the porch is the first thing and sometimes the only view seen by passersby, so our homes are often defined architecturally by our porches. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have waterfront property, the main porch would most likely be facing the River and this would be considered the “front” of the cottage; the “back” would be the street-side door, perhaps having a smaller porch entry area.

Thousand Island Park is located on the southwest corner of Wellesley Island and was founded as a religious campground community during the thriving religious revival of the late 19th century. The Park offered a combination of sermonizing and sunshine and as its popularity grew, the tents evolved into small wooden cottages. Characteristic of the popular architecture of the time, today the cottages include the tent platform or Early Campground, the Queen Anne, the Shingle, and the Stick styles, and, following the devastating fire of 1912, the more economical and simple Craftsman/Bungalow style.

Tour Cottage on Headland Avenue

The event will feature tours of six cottages, two boathouses, and various points of interest, along with a refreshment stop along the route. There will be an opening presentation on Porches at the Tabernacle, prior to the start of the morning and afternoon tours (9 am and 1 pm). As well, there will be an optional box lunch available, along with golf cart transportation for those who would like it.

The cottages on the Tour are of different architectural styles, including several vernacular designs with elements of different styles, where local craftsmen put their signature on the designs, depending upon materials available at the time. The “Ice House” cottage is an example of this concept, where a former attached ice house, an original T-plan one room cottage was transformed into a family cottage, with a tower with a polygonal footprint and finial. Another cottage, located on a street of equally consistent architectural styles with River views, is an Eastlake style cottage boasting a 2-story porch with a decorative truss on the second floor and interior renovations.

Tour Cottage on Island Avenue

A third cottage, located on a central village street, is another Eastlake design, showing off a gable that includes exceptionally exuberant decorations with truss elements, a diagonal cross band, pierced panels, and sawn scrollwork. Another centrally located cottage is a perfect example of the outgrowth of the original tent platform, having undergone a total transformation in 2020. The lovely embellished front gable and historically accurate lack of balustrade makes this cottage architecturally significant.

Proceeding further out from the village, the Tour features a cottage that was originally a simple tent platform style. It later had a Queen Anne Bay addition, followed by a rear screen porch in the 1990s, and subsequently a more contemporary addition, affording beautiful views of South Bay. Lastly, located on Prospect Point with spectacular River views, is an Eastlake Cottage boasting highly decorative gingerbread embellishment, which underwent an historically accurate restoration in 2021- 2022.

One of the two boathouses on the tour is a new build as its predecessor was destroyed in the Halloween Storm of 2019. The other boathouse is an original build, being one of the TI Park “signature” Crystal Bay row boathouses.

Aerial of Tour Boathouse on Prospect Point

Points of interest along the tour include the Columbian Hotel footprint, the Landmark building, the Wellesley Hotel, and the Pavilion. The lemonade stop is on the porch of a new build, a Tent Platform style cottage, which fits seamlessly into the landscape of Crystal Bay.

The tickets for the Tour will be $35 for members and $40 for non-members and are available on-line at www.thousandislandparklandmarksociety.org. Landmark Members will be able to buy up to four companion tickets at the member price. $15 boxed lunches will be available at the Guzzle, provided by the owners of the favorite Rochester establishment “Tree Town Cafe,” who are operating the Guzzle this summer.

In addition, there will be a Raffle with tickets available at check-in, the items being displayed at the historic Landmark Building, which will be open all day for shopping and research.

Tour Cottage on Island Avenue

The Thousand Island Park Landmark Society, more commonly called “Landmark”, is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historical, architectural, and infrastructure resources of the Park, for our community, visitors, and future generations.

[Header photograph is Tour Cottage on Prospect Avenue]

By Amy Phelps

Amy Kane Phelps is a life-long “river rat”, having spent summers on the River since birth. She is a fourth generation Round Island descendant and fifth generation from Thousand Island Park, where she now spends her summers, wintering in Naples, Florida. Amy has been a member of the Thousand Island Park Landmark Society for many years and this is her third time helping with the Cottage and Garden Tour. She also is a Trustee of the Thousand Islands Arts Center.

Posted in: Volume 18, Issue 7, July 2023, event, News article, Architecture

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