BA SHORT HISTORY OF LAKE DELAWARE

By Alan Galowitz

There is a densely wooded mountainous tract in New York State where the towns of Andes, Bovina and Delhi meet. Lake Delaware takes up part of it, and the rest of the land is covered with virgin forest and pastures. On the shore of Lake Delaware stands what is perhaps the oldest structure in the area.

Lake House was built in 1788 by Morgan Lewis (1754 – 1844), the third governor of New York State. It was used as the family summer home. Luisa Livingston, his wife, had been given this land by her brother Robert R. Livingston (1746 – 1813). His grandfather inherited the land from his father Robert Livingston (1654 – 1728). It was a part of the Hardenburgh Patent granted by Queen Anne in 1708. Louisa’s tract of about 2000 acres was lot No. 10, part of the Great Lot 39 of this ancient land grant.

When M. Elbridge Gerry married Luisa M. Livingston, title passed to the Gerry family. A 30-room mansion was erected during 1912 upon the estate. It was called Aknusti. The architect was Fredrick Law Olmsted, famous for designing New York’s Central Park and the Chicago World’s Fair. Ancram, another notable home on the property was designed by Ralph Adams Cram and was occupied by Angelica Gerry (1870 – 1960)

Family members, both Gerry and Livingston have been dedicated to public service and philanthropy since pre-revolutionary times.

The Livingston and Gerry families have given America three of its founding fathers. Robert Livingston (1746 – 1813) was on the committee of five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Philip Livingston (1716 – 1778) and Eldridge Thomas Gerry (1744 -1814) were signers of the Declaration of Independence. Peter G. Gerry (1897 – 1951) was a U.S. senator from Rhode Island.

To this day, the property around Lake Delaware remains in family hands and is used as a summer retreat. Its peaceful rustic nature could not have changed much since the first Livingston owners recognized its beauty three centuries ago. ~

 

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