By Alan Galowitz
There is a mile long lake hidden among the Catskill Mountains to the Northwest of Andes. It has remained well hidden because it is private property, restricted to the use of its owners and their guests. Lake Delaware and the surrounding land are considered to be among the most beautiful areas in New York State. Robert Livingston (1654-1728) must have known this when he secured a royal patent from a representative of Queen Anne of England for the property (Lot 10 Great Lot 39). The long and complex story of how that property was passed on from descendent to descendent for two hundred and seventy – five years is outlined in the following chronology. The property once consisted of 20,000 acres. During the 18th and 19th century all but 3700 acres of lakeside property was sold.
Around 1990, approximately 2000 acres were sold by the Gerry family. Known for some time as Broadlands, this tract was purchased a few months ago by Aman Resorts LLC. The Gerry family are descended from the Livingstons.
The remaining property, about 1700 acres, was kept as a family playground. On this property, stands the Lake House, built in 1787 as a summer home to Gertrude Livingston and her husband Morgan Lewis, the third governor of New York. It is among the oldest buildings standing in Delaware County. Gertrude Livingston inherited the land when she was 25 years old in 1779.
How painful it must have been for the old intermarried families of Gerry, Livingston and Harriman to give up part of their summer playground. On the parcel just sold to Aman Resorts, stands a 30 room mansion named Aknusti, built in 1913, as well as stables and other buildings, all on grounds designed by Olmsted Brothers, prominent landscape architects of the time. A snapshot remains showing Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his dog in front of the mansion. Other guests of the Gerrys were Eleanor Roosevelt, Prescott Bush, grandfather of George M. Bush and many other luminaries.
The founder and chairman of Aman Resorts is Adrian Zecha. Aman owns many luxury hotels such as the former Rockefeller resort, Jackson Hole, in Wyoming. There has been no word yet as to the plans that Aman has for development of this new acquisition. ~
LAKE DELAWARE ESTATE CHRONOLOGY
This property that has been in family hands for 275 years is located at the intersection of Andes, Bovina and Delhi.
1664 – The English occupied the Dutch controlled Hudson Valley used in the fur trade since 1620 by the Dutch West India Company.
1673 – Robert Livingston (1654 – 1728), The Founder, immigrated from Scotland to Albany NY.
1686 -The Founder secured a royal patent for 160,000 acres in Dutchess and Colombia Co.
1728 – Robert Livingston, Jr. (1688 – 1775), Inherited the Clermont estate on the Hudson as well as a large portion of the Hardenbergh Patent that included Lake Delaware (Lot No. 10, Great Lot 39) from The Founder.
1740 – Robert R. Livingston (1718 – 1775), The Judge, inherited Lake Delaware from his father, Robert Livingston Jr. He was Judge of the Supreme Court of the Colony of New York. His property went to his son, also named Robert R. Livingston (1746 – 1813), and called The Chancellor, holding the office of Chancellor of the State of New York.
1779 – After the death of The Judge, The Chancellor gave Gertrude Livingston, his sister, the 2000 acre Lake Delaware parcel.
Robert R Livingston (1746 – 1813) was an important figure in American History.
* Law partner of John Jay, signer of the Declaration of Independence
* Brother of Phillip Livingston, also a signer.
* Member of the Continental Congress
* Member of the committee of the Continental Congress that drafted the Declaration of Independence
* Administered the Oath of Office to George Washington
* As our minister to France, he negotiated the Louisiana Purchase.
* He financed Robert Fulton establishing the first commercially successful steamboat line.
* The Chancellor founded the town of New Kingston. Five thousand acres were given to residents of Kingston who served in the Revolutionary War after the British fleet burned the town in 1777.
1779 – Gertrude Livingston married Morgan Lewis (1754 – 1844) a Revolutionary War colonel who rose to the rank of General during the War of 1812. He became the third governor of New York. The family used the Lake House, built 1787, as a summer home. She left the Lake Delaware property to her daughter Margaret Lewis
1798 – Margaret Lewis married Maturin Livingston, a distant cousin. Lake Delaware property deeded to her son who deeded it back to his brother Robert J. Livingston in 1865
1891 – Title passed to Louisa M. Livingston, the wife of M. Elbridge Gerry (1837-1927), The Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, grandson of Elbridge Thomas Gerry (1744 – 1814). The family built Aknusti in 1912, designed by Olmsted Brothers, landscape architects of N.Y. Central Park and the Chicago Worlds Fairgrounds.
Elbridge Thomas Gerry (1744 – 1814) was an important figure in American History.
* Signer of The Declaration of Independence
* Member of the Continental Congress
* Governor of Massachusetts
* Vice Pres. under James Madison
* Inventor of the political redistricting system known as Gerrymandering.
Title passed to Peter G. Gerry (1897 – 1957), U.S. senator from Rhode Island, son of The Commodore. His sister Angelica (1870 – 1960) built and lived in Ancram, designed by Ralph Adams Cram, an important architect, on 260 acres. The house was torn down in 1961. Upon the Senator’s death, the property was turned over to his nephew, Elbridge T. Gerry, Sr. (1908 -1999). Upon his death in 1999 the property went to Mr. Gerry’s children, Elbridge T. Gerry, Jr., Peter G. Gerry II, and Marjorie Gerry. ~