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Holzers open Rondeau Room in Wilmington

A likeness of Adirondack hermit Noah John Rondeau is seen in the Rondeau Room of the Twisted Raven restaurant in Wilmington. (Provided photo)

WILMINGTON — Whiteface Corners and Twisted Raven will be hosting an open house of “The Rondeau Room” from 4 to 6 p.m. today. Located at 8 Whiteface Memorial Highway in Wilmington, the Rondeau Room is a new community space that honors the hermit Noah John Rondeau (1883-1967).

The open house will include live entertainment featuring the Stinky Boots String Band and complimentary snacks and beverages. For more information, contact Twisted Raven at 518-946-6160.

The hermit

Today is Rondeau’s birthday, having been born on July 6, 1883, and raised near AuSable Forks.

Rondeau’s first trip to the Cold River section of the High Peaks was in 1902, according to Maitland DeSormo’s book, “Noah John Rondeau: Adirondack Hermit.” Rondeau was hunting and searching for trapping grounds. He lived in Lake Placid until 1913 or 1914, working as a barber and doing other odd jobs. He then moved to Coreys east of Tupper Lake.

Rondeau set trap lines throughout the Cold River region and began wintering there in 1929. Moving his residence a few times in the backcountry, he finally settled on what we know today as Rondeau’s Hermitage, on a high bluff overlooking Cold River. At the time, the land was owned by the Santa Clara Lumber Company. The Northville-Placid Trail, built from 1922 to 1924, passes through the site.

Rondeau would make trips to Coreys and Saranac Lake for supplies. He also had many visitors, hikers mainly from the Adirondack Mountain Club, which built the Northville-Placid Trail, or aspiring 46ers, who brought him food. His longest continuous stay at Cold River was 381 days, from May 1, 1943, to May 16, 1944.

State officials forced Rondeau to leave Cold River in 1950 after blowdown from a hurricane created dangerous conditions in the backcountry. The Conservation Department closed off the Cold River region for several years to clean up many of the downed trees.

Rondeau moved to Lake Placid and served as Santa Claus for years at Santa’s Workshop in Wilmington. The theme park is located just up the road from the Twisted Raven.

In the spring of 1957, part of Rondeau’s hermitage — the Hall of Records and Beauty Parlor wigwam — were dismantled and moved to the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, now called Adirondack Experience. In 1958, Rondeau sold many of his belongings to the museum.

Rondeau died at the Lake Placid hospital on Aug. 24, 1967, and was buried at the North Elba Cemetery. A small rock with a plaque marks his grave.

Whiteface Corners

Roy Holzer, former Wilmington town supervisor and landlord of the Twisted Raven at Whiteface Corners, explained on Friday why the room is being named after Rondeau.

“We just wanted to tie in local history to our building down there,” Holzer said.

Rondeau’s importance to the local area, Holzer said, is what inspired them to name the room after him. Rondeau is Holzer’s wife, Becky’s, great uncle, and they have a number of pictures of the hermit from her father, Burton Rondeau, that date back to the 1930s and 1940s, which will be on display at the open house.

There is a partially reconstructed replica of Rondeau’s Cold River cabin in the new room.

Holzer said that after the open house, Twisted Raven proprietors Hope and Travis Holzer will use the space as a “special events public use room, for private receptions, wedding receptions, meetings — things like that.” He added that he was sure it would “complement the offerings to the community.”

The room was extensively renovated, which Holzer and his wife paid for entirely with their own money, he said. It’s Holzer’s philosophy not to rely on any grants.

The Holzers bought the property over 10 years ago and have been working on the renovations ever since. In addition to the restaurant, Whiteface Corners has four long-term rentals, two short-term rentals and two professional office rentals. Holzer wants to make the property a multi-use facility.

“It’s going to be a unique offering, and hopefully people will check it out,” he said.

In 2023, the restaurant that was previously called Pourman’s Tap House — operated by Jesse and Hillary Rogers since Dec. 29, 2016 — closed and reopened as the Twisted Raven. Roy and Becky owned the Little Super Market on state Route 86 for 22 years, selling the business to their niece and nephew, Cliff and Sarah Holzer, in May 2019.

In 2013, Roy and Becky bought the old Holiday Lodge at Wilmington’s “Four Corners” intersection and renamed it Whiteface Corners.

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