Rosslyn Boathouse, circa 1907

Rosslyn Boathouse, Circa 1907 (Source: vintage postcard with note)
Rosslyn Boathouse, Circa 1907 (Source: vintage postcard with note)

It’s time travel Tuesday! Gazing through the time-hazed patina of this vintage postcard I’m unable to resist the seductive pull of bygone days. Whoosh!

I tumble backward through a sepia wormhole, settling into the first decade of the 20th century. It’s 1907 according to the postal stamp on the rear of this postcard.

Back of Rosslyn Boathouse Postcard
Back of Rosslyn Boathouse Postcard

Eleven decades ago a man rowed a boat past Rosslyn’s boathouse, from north to south, through waves larger than ripples and smaller than white caps. It was a sunny day in mid-to-late summer, judging by the shoreline water level. A photographer, hooded beneath a dark cloth focusing hood, leans over behind his wooden tripod, adjusting pleated leather bellows, focus, framing. And just as the rower slumps slightly, pausing to catch his breath, the shutter clicks and the moment is captured.

Perhaps this is the photographer who memorialized Rosslyn boathouse more than a century ago?

Albumen print of a photographer with Conley Folding Camera circa 1900. (Source: Antique and Classic Cameras)
Albumen print of a photographer with Conley Folding Camera circa 1900. (Source: Antique and Classic Cameras)

Or this well decorated fellow?

1907 Rosslyn Boathouse Photographer? (Source: Antique and Classic Cameras)
1907 Rosslyn boathouse photographer? (Source: Antique and Classic Cameras)

There’s so much to admire in this photograph-turned-postcard. Rosslyn boathouse stands plumb, level, and proud. Probably almost two decades had elapsed since her construction, but she looks like an unrumpled debutante. In fact, aside from the pier, coal bin, and gangway, Rosslyn boathouse looks almost identical today. Remarkable for a structure perched in the flood zone, ice flow zone, etc.

I’m also fond of the sailboat drifting just south of Rosslyn boathouse. Raised a sailor, one my greatest joys in recent years has been owning and sailing a 31′ sloop named Errant that spends the summer moored just slightly north of its forebear recorded in this photo.

Although the pier and the massive coal bin in front of the boathouse are no longer there, they offer a nod to Samuel Keyser‘s stately ship, the Kestrel, for many summers associated with Rosslyn boathouse.

Kestrel at Rosslyn Boathouse in Essex, NY
Kestrel at Rosslyn boathouse in Essex, NY

Other intriguing details in this 1907 photo postcard of Rosslyn boathouse include the large white sign mounted on the shore north of the boathouse (what important message adorned this billboard?); the presence of a bathhouse upslope and north of the boathouse (today known as the Green Frog and located on Whallons Bay); and the slightly smudged marginalia referring to a small white skiff pulled ashore slightly south of the boathouse (what is the back story?).

This faded photograph kindles nostalgia and wonder, revealing a glimpse into the history of Rosslyn boathouse while dangling further mysteries to compell me deeper into the narrative of our home. Kindred sleuths are welcome!

About virtualDavis

A writer, storyteller and unabashed flâneur, George Davis (aka virtualDavis or G.G. Davis, Jr.) is the author of Rosslyn Redux: Reawakening a home, a dream and ourselves, a transmedia chronicle about rehabilitating an historic property in the Adirondacks with his bride. He blogs about storytelling, poetry, doodling, marginalia, flânerie, publishing, and other creativity-inspired esoterica at; posts sometimes exhilarating, often unnerving, occasionally euphoric, and always pollyanna "midlife mashups" at; chronicles his sailing adventures (and misadventures) at Sailing Errant; and delves into matters of parenting, babylandia, and childfreedom at Why No Kids? George formerly taught and coached at Santa Fe Preparatory School and The American School of Paris, and he co-founded and launched Maison Margaux: "Paris à la parisienne" in Faubourg Saint-Germain. He currently owns and operates Adobe Oasis in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his bride. George meanders on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr.
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