This morning I revisit a familiar and particularly popular perspective of Rosslyn’s lakefront or, to be more historically accurate, the Sherwood Inn waterfront in the early/mid 20th century.
Taken together this pair of vintage postcards forms a veritable diptych of the Sherwood Inn (aka Rosslyn) lakefront, “dock house” (aka boathouse), and a veritable flotilla of classic watercraft bobbing in Blood’s Bay.
Deciphering the Sherwood Inn Waterfront
This north-looking vantage was most likely photographed from the environs of the present day ferry dock that shuttles cars and passengers back-and-forth between Essex, New York and Charlotte, Vermont. As with most images captured almost a century ago, some details are blurry, lacking clarity and precision, but inviting the viewer’s imagination to fill in the gaps.
Looking at the second postcard (titled “Yachting on Lake Champlain, Essex, NY”) I zoom into the point where my vision — and the time sepia’ed rendering — become suggestive but unreliable. I’m studying an area on the water’s surface between the two most prominent motor cruisers, a spot slightly east of the dock house pier (visible in the first postcard).
Perhaps several small dinghies or rowboats at anchor explain what I’m seeing, but I can’t resist wondering if it isn’t a vestigial section of the northernmost pier that still exists on our waterfront today. Given the field conditions and all of the historic photographs that I’ve come across, the ruins appear to predate the dockhouse and the “coal bunker” pier that extended beyond it, originally for the Kestrel enduring into the last years of the 20th century.
Absent sharp focus and definition, this water surface anomaly distracts me, kindles my curiosity. I wonder. My mind wanders. I try to imagine the challenges of helming a boat through such a busy waterfront congested with other vessels and multiple semi-submerged hazards. We still contend with this navigational challenge to this day, and we’ve sacrificed at least two bronze propellors to the underwater ruins.
Do you see what I’m identifying as remnants of a crib dock extending west-to-east between two lengthiest cruisers? Any amateur sleuths out there? Let me know what you think…
Artifacts and Auctions
As I’ve mentioned in several previous posts, I offer these photo-postcards with a bittersweet postscript.
Recently I’ve been getting outbid in auctions of historic images of our home, boathouse, and waterfront. Did I mention that it’s the same bidder who keeps besting me? And did I mention that the prices are consistently soaring above the $200 to $300 range?
I have no idea who is bidding against me, but s/he is keen to win these visual time capsules. I’d love to discover why. I’d love to discover whom. Perhaps a neighbor? Or a passerby smitten with Historic Essex?
Fortunately, my collection of Rosslyn artifacts is extensive. I often bid on photographs and postcards already in my collection. But I can’t resist adding duplicates, especially when combined with compelling missives. (Fortunately the first of the two postcards is blank on the back, and the second — the capricious capture of boats afloat —include a private but uncompelling note.)
But back to the unfolding mystery. The plot thickens. An unknown bidder consistently outcompeting yours truly after a decade or more with fairly few big dollar auctions. At the very least it’s clear that demand for historic Essex images in general (and Rosslyn images in particular) continues to increase. And to date no hint of another collector… Who. Are. You?!?! If you happen to be reading these words, please reach out. I’d love to learn what draws you to this somewhat esoteric subject. And I’d like to propose sharing images. Thanks.
The good news is that I already own one of these two postcards. The image above of the Sherwood Inn waterfront photograph (with boathouse) has been in my collection for quite a few years. If you look closely you may notice a few subtle differences with the image at the top of this post.
I published this postcard (postmarked July 24, 1959) on May 21, 2015 in a post titled, “Sherwood Inn Landing on Lake Champlain” which includes the sender’s note. Yes, sometimes it’s worth sharing.
By way of conclusion, I’m embedding the Instagram post of these postcards which elicited some interesting comments/feedback that you may enjoy reading.