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Silver Bay in Transition, 1904

In this account from a guidebook of 1904, one can see the Silver Bay Hotel in the midst of its transition from a resort to a conference center, from ownership by the Paine family to ownership by the Silver Bay Association and the YMCA.

Silver Bay Hotel is on the west shore, 22 miles from Caldwell. It is the property of Mr. Silas H. Paine, of New York, who has made this section his summer home for a number of seasons. It commands a wonderfully beautiful stretch of water north and south. Westward the hills rise into Catamount Peak, accessible by trail from the top of which one gets the most magnificent sweep of wilderness scenery to be imagined. North and south along the shore stretch delightful drives through well-shaded ways.

“All steamers land on their trips north and south, while a fleet of pleasure and fishing boats, available for guests of the house, render many a nook and bay easily accessible.

“There are a number of cottages along shore and back belonging to Mr. Paine, which can be had by guests who may prefer them to rooms in the house and where they may do their own housekeeping, or eat a the hotel as fancy may suggest.

“For the season of 1904 Silver Bay will be managed by the Young Men’s Christian Associations and the Young People’s Missionary Movement.

“The Young Women’s Christian Associations of the colleges of the east and Canada will occupy the hotel from June 24 to July 5.

“The City Department of the Young Women’s Christian Associations will have the hotel from July 8 to July 19.

“The Young People’s Missionary Movement will hold their conference from July 22 to August 1. This conference is conducted by the foreign missionary societies of more than fifteen of the principle denominations of the United States and Canada.

“The Young Men’s Christian Associations will occupy the hotel from August 1 to September 15. During this period there will be an institute for the training of men for the secretaryship and physical directorship. It will be open to members of the Young Men’s Christian Associations and their families during this period, for vacation privileges.

“The conference for older boys will be in session August 30 to September 4.

“The hotel is not open to general guests. The prices are nominal and planned only to pay actual running expenses. In opening this hotel to these various enterprises, Mr. and Mrs. Paine have, characteristically, made possible opportunity for recreation combined with the accomplishment of much in these different phases of religious activity.”

— From Saratoga, Lake George and Lake Champlain: A Book of Today (34th edition, 1904) by Seneca Ray Stoddard

“From a Silver Bay Delegate”

“Dear Fellow Unioners:

“It is my pleasant duty to tell you of my trip to the Silver Bay Conference, but I find it a rather difficult task. My whole week there was so perfectly enjoyable and satisfactory to me that I feel that to describe it aptly would be to write a book. However, I shall try to curb my enthusiasm so as not to take up too much space.

“To begin with, Lake George is the most beautiful lake I ever saw and Silver Bay one of the finest spots along the shores. If you have ever visited Lake George, you will agree with me, I am sure, that nowhere in our state will you find waters more sparkling and crystal blue or mountains more stately and superb. And Silver Bay gets its name from the many silver birches that add so much to the beauty of the place with their slender gracefulness.

“The property owned by the Silver Bay Association includes about fifteen hundred acres. Beside the fine big Silver Bay Hotel, there are two pretty rustic inns and numerous other small cottages, all for the accommodation of the visiting delegates. This year the attendance was about six hundred. The auditorium has seating capacity of twelve hundred and is a very attractive and appropriate place for the various sessions of the Conference. Here we had many treats both intellectually and spiritually. Here we met every morning for a short intercession and prayer services before entering upon the duties and pleasures of the day. And here, too, some of the various classes were held…

“Some of the most interesting (missionaries) were Dr. Kumm, missionary and explorer of Central Africa; Mrs. Emerson of the Congo States; Mr. Blackstone of China; Dr. Dearing of Japan and Mr. Cope of Burma. Most of these people spoke at vespers, held each evening at seven, out-of-doors, on the natural stone steps in front of the big hotel. These meetings were to us all, I think, the best: preceded by a song service under direction of the fine musical leader and brought to a close just as the sun was sinking in all its glory behind the mountains.

“Now a few words in closing in regard to making this trip alone. That should not keep any one from going. I am convinced from my own experience. The very trip itself is robbed of loneliness by the meeting by chance of others who are also en route to the Conference. And upon arriving at the Bay, the very atmosphere is friendly. There is no need for introduction as each delegate bears a tag containing his name, denomination and home city. All one needs there, or any place in fact, is simply to be friendly in order to make friends. Surely, for hospitality no place can surpass Silver Bay. Even though I went alone (having no one I knew there) I came away feeling that I had found so many good friends that I regretted to leave them all. I am reminded of a remark made to me by a fellow-delegate as we said good-bye. It expresses my sentiments, too. ‘If Ireland can be called a little bit of Heaven, I think Silver Bay has a still better claim to the title.’

“With good wishes, I am, Yours, most sincerely, Ethyl A. Wolcott

— From Onward: The Journal of the Universalist Young People, January 1, 1917. Miss Wolcott was a member of the Universalist Church of Herkimer, N.Y.

Thou Art So Gay

Dear Silver Bay,
Thou art so gay!
Here would I play
From day to day;
With thee I stay
Until I’m gray;
But Silver Bay,
Hear what I say:
There is a place
Dear to my race
Which is more gay,
By far more gay;
So Silver Bay,
I’ll go away
To that good place
With a good pace —
Can I not stay?
No, I should say.
And now let’s raise
Three hip! hip! rays!
To Silver Bay;
And so good-bye,
Sweet Silver Bay.

— “Farewell to Silver Bay” by S.M. Woo in The Chinese Students’ Monthly, October 1914

The New Auditorium

After the first auditorium burnt down, the second (and present) was built using the original plans. Here is a report on its completion from 1909:

“The auditorium rebuilt on the old lines is finished with its clean white maple floor, has 569 generous-sized opera chairs on the ground level, seats nearly as many in the gallery; broad openings on three sides give air, light and easy egress. The three new class buildings are complete and the foundation stone for the See Memorial located in the grove is to be laid in August. All this work has been handsomely put through under the supervision of Mr. Farr whose interest in everything which has to do with Silver Bay is so keen that he refused a flattering offer elsewhere at larger pay. The eight-inch water main with outlets on each floor of the hotel adds a new fire protection.

“The memorial bell presented by Dr. J. Ackerman Coles in memory of his aunt, Mrs. Mary Ackerman Hoyt, bears this inscription, ‘To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of Mrs. Mary S. Ackerman Hoyt. A Gift from Her Nephew, Jonathan Ackerman Coles, AB, AM, MD, LLD, to The Silver Bay Association, N.Y., June 1909. Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth Peace Good Will Toward Men. Luke II:14′”

— From “Silver Bay Is Ready” in Association Men, July 1909