Saving Santanoni: balancing historic preservation and environmental conservation in Adirondack Park
Linebaugh, Donald W.
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Great Camp Santanoni is an approximately thirty two acre historic site located in New York State’s Adirondack Park. A National Historic Landmark, it is one of only three publicly‐owned historic sites within Adirondack Park, the other two being John Brown’s Farm and Crown Point. Despite Santanoni’s unique local, regional, and national significance as an architectural masterpiece and a cultural symbol of late nineteenth‐century attitudes, its future remains startlingly uncertain. When New York State purchased the 12,900‐acre Santanoni Preserve in 1972, the fate of the great camp was in jeopardy due to the “forever wild” provision in Article XIV of the New York State Constitution. This provision requires that state‐owned lands within Adirondack Park are to be kept “forever wild”. It is a mandate that has been interpreted by some to mean the eradication of all human‐made structures situated on public lands. Ultimately, Great Camp Santanoni was saved from demolition and starting in the early 1990s, after nearly twenty years of abandonment and neglect, efforts to preserve and restore the great camp were launched and continue today. The full story surrounding the preservation and restoration of Santanoni is told in this paper. It is a story that demonstrates a significantly larger problem, the need for finding equilibrium between historic preservation and environmental conservation in Adirondack Park. Culture and nature need not be mutually exclusive and any attempt to make them totally separate from one another is artificial. If Adirondack Park is truly to be a model for how humans can live and interact with nature, then a better balance between historic preservation and environmental conservation must be achieved in regard to publicly-owned historic resources located there.