Meet the former Rosslyn bathhouse. No longer extant on our waterfront, this charming building still exists nearby, having migrated south decades ago (or so we understand.) As boating and swimming (aka bathing) season yield to fall foliage and Canada geese migration, it seems a suitable moment to revisit a post I shared on the Essex community blog on June 17, 2013.
My post focused on the photograph above which features a lakeside utility building and remnants of a crib dock / pier extending out into Lake Champlain. This historic photograph was gifted to me by Essex neighbor and friend Todd Goff some years ago, and it stands as one of relatively few visual records documenting this iteration of Rosslyn’s waterfront.
Let’s cull some of the goodies from 2013.
Former Rosslyn Bathhouse
[Note: The following is adapted from my 2013 Essex community blog post.]
It’s time to wander out on a proverbial limb. And despite a lifelong penchant for climbing trees I’m not 100% confident with this morning’s adventure. I’m hoping that you’ll help me!
When we posted this mystery photograph on the Essex community blog as part of the Vintage Essex Trivia series, we asked readers to guess the subject of the photo. We were looking for answers to questions like these:
- Where was the photograph taken?
- When was it taken?
- What is the little building?
- Does the little building still exist?
While previous Vintage Essex Trivia posts rendered plenty of history, rumor and anecdote, this photograph only resulted in two guesses from members of the community. There’s a reason for that. The scene captured by Gene Van Ornam (Geri Van Ornam’s father) in this photograph no longer exists in Essex. The wiles of time have transformed this waterfront more than once, but there are still some vital clues to guide us.
CLUES: SHERWOOD INN & ROSSLYN WATERFRONT
Despite the almost deafening sound of digital silence which greeted this most recent challenge, two oracular residents shed light on the photograph.
“This looks like a no longer existing precursor to the Sherwood Inn dock.” — Diane Lansing
“Looks like a precursor to the Rosslyn dock, based on the topography of the hillside. But that’s a total guess on my part.” — Kathryn Reinhardt (@adkkathryn)
Both Diane and Kathryn are correct. Bravo!
The stony pier (crib dock) actually predates the Sherwood Inn (though by how many years I’m uncertain), and remnants of it still exists today. The topography and pier are indeed helpful clues, but perhaps the most telling detail is the stone retaining wall which girds the bottom of the hillside.
The stone terracing has endured the wrath of icy flows and swirling floods. Or at least, most of it has endured Lake Champlain’s persistent threat. The 2011 floods which initiated this blog damaged Rosslyn’s waterfront, and reparations are ongoing. But the stone terracing and ramp are once again restored, offering a contemporary context for the historic photograph above.
The photograph below confirms the hypothesis that the building is the former Rosslyn bathhouse.
Special thanks to Diane and Kathryn for your sleuthing, Todd Goff for the superb photograph of Rosslyn bathhouse, and
Shirley LaForest for the color postcard image which helps solve the mystery.
Identify established, one significant mystery remains. We’ve confirmed that the building appearing in both of the photographs above depicts the former Rosslyn bathhouse, but I can also confirm that it no longer stands lakeside on Rosslyn’s waterfront. What happened to it?
This is where I climb out onto that proverbial limb. Are you ready?
I’ve been told on several occasions by different people that the building now absent on Rosslyn’s flood-challenged hillside is none other than the charming cottage on Whallons Bay known as the Green Frog. In fact, I’ve even been told that it was transported from the Rosslyn waterfront to its present perch by dragging it over the frozen waters of Lake Champlain. Now that — hauling the Rosslyn bathhouse over the ice, perhaps with a robust team of draft horses? — is a vintage photograph I’d love to discover!
Perhaps you’ve heard the same thing? Or maybe you can offer a different explanation for what happened to the Rosslyn bathhouse?
At the very least it’s clear from the photographs above that the Green Frog, if it is in fact the former Rosslyn bathhouse, has been significantly remodeled over time. Hhhmmm… I’m not certain the second part of this mystery is resolved. Yet. But if/when I learn anything further, I’ll definitely update this post.
What do you think?