We get our kicks on Route 86

This was our house, a former tourist home, so large that out family of nine used only about half the house. It was located at the left as one looks into the Shanty property with another large, 3-story house on the right where the Murray family lived.

Our home is located on state Route 86, just past the famous Donnelly’s Ice Cream stand as one heads toward Gabriels.

It was originally a school house and has undergone a number of renovations by a number of owners. When we bought the place in 2002, we built an addition off the main structure.

I attended school in this house (a Ms. Comstock was the teacher for all eight grades) in 1937 when we lived just a stone’s throw away in a house [see photo] located on the site of Shanty’s horse farm, the yellow house and barns next to the Harrietstown cemetery.

We moved there from the Split Rock farm when lightning struck our multiple barns and burned them to the ground – that’s a big story for another time.

This strip of 86 looks much different today with various families settling here over the years but today populated by about 100 Peria’s who own much of the property on the west side of the highway.

Ridgewood Village Boarding House, 1875-1921 (Ridgewood text and photo courtesy of Eileen Jauch)

In the 1930s, there was a huge hotel or tourist home known as the Ridgewood Villa occupying most of that property back then, owned and operated by Mrs. J. J. Fitzgerald.

The buildings were all painted two shades of green and there was a farm across the road, where there are now open fields. It was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Hesseltine, parents of Patricia Finn and Ronnie Hesseltine. They later owned the turkey farm on the Trudeau Road.

So Pat and Ronnie went to school here along with another famous fellow by the name of Joe Pickreign because all the kids on Manning Hill also went to school here.

There were one-room school houses in every hamlet. Our house on this road in 1937 was only 1.2 miles from Split Rock farm yet we had to go to school here. The school in Gabriels where we originally went to school was only 1.1 miles from Split Rock.

Then when we moved to Norman Ridge, we went to the Porter school, 1.3 miles from the farm, but the school in Vermontville was only 1.1 from the farm. Then there was a school on the Rainbow Lake Road that was 2.4 miles from the Gabriels School and there was a nice school house in Keeses Mills.

Ridgewood Village Boarding House, 1875-1921 (Ridgewood text and photo courtesy of Eileen Jauch)

Not to mention a school house on the Trudeau Road, which was there way ahead of the Lake Colby School, which is now part of the Michael Boon Estate. There was a great looking school house on the back road in Ray Brook…call me if you want to know more about school houses.

Rates at the villa

$21 and up per week — $2.50 and up per day. Accommodations for 35. Mail daily. Telephone 70-F-12 connecting with Saranac Lake and the leading Adirondack Hotels. Also long distance telephone. Post Office Harrietstown, Saranac Lake, New York.


“From New York – N.Y.C.R.R. via Utica, Adirondack Division to Lake Clear Jct. Without change.

“From Boston – Boston and Albany R.R. to Albany, connecting with N.Y.C.R.R. via Utica, Adirondack Division to Lake Clear Jct.

“Distance from Railroad Stations — Lake Clear Jct., N.Y.C.R.R., three and one half miles. Saranac lake Station five miles.

“Auto will meet any train if notified in advance.”

The brochure describes the villa

(Season: June to Sept.15)

“It is situated among the popular resorts of the Adirondacks, on the Roosevelt Highway [?] midway between Saranac lake and Paul Smith’s. It is located on the highest elevation in the vicinity, 2,000 feet above sea level, and commands a view of about 300 mountain peaks. One of the finest landscapes in the Adirondacks.

“The rooms are large, airy and well furnished. Hot and cold water baths. Plumbing modern in every respect.

“The Cuisine: Fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, etc., are supplied from the farm connected with Ridgewood Villa. The house is supplied with water from one of the best springs in the mountains.

“Those who enjoy quiet and pleasant surroundings, pure and exhilarating air, pure spring water, pleasant walks and drives, can find all these with health and happiness at Ridgewood Villa.


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