Conservationists hope state will protect long-coveted property
By the Times Union and Adirondack Explorer
LONG LAKE — The Adirondack estate owned by the Whitney family is on the market for $180 million.
John Hendrickson, widower of Marylou Whitney, told the Wall Street Journal that he plans to sell the 36,000-acre estate — including the great camp Deerlands — that has been in the Whitney family since the 1890s.
Word of the property’s availability quickly led Adirondack conservationists to press for its protection by New York State. On Thursday morning, Protect the Adirondacks released a statement calling the property’s listing “a major moment for Governor Andrew Cuomo” and state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.
“The intact forests and beauty and sheer number of lakes and ponds set this property apart from all others,” Protect’s executive director, Peter Bauer, said. “The Whitney family were marvelous stewards of the property for more than 100 years.”
The land has been atop the state’s conservation priority list for half a century, Bauer said, and is “the missing link to historic Adirondack canoe routes from the 19th century.” It has 22 lakes and ponds and 100 miles of undeveloped shoreline, he added.
Previous studies of the property should lay the groundwork for acquisition, said David Gibson, managing partner at Adirondack Wild.
“Even during the pandemic, this project ought to rise in levels of priority and urgency,” he said in a written statement. “The Department of Environmental Conservation and the land conservation community need to dust off prior studies and immediately resume efforts to work with the landowner and a variety of Park stakeholders to conserve the tract.”
Any effort to add the land to the state’s forest preserve would meet local resistance. Last year, Long Lake Supervisor Clark Seaman told the Adirondack Explorer that public ownership would eliminate valued private maintenance jobs.
Hendrickson inherited the property near Long Lake when Whitney, a philanthropist, socialite and thoroughbred racing owner, died last year at age 93.
“We’ve been very good stewards of the land and we want the next owner to be the same,” Hendrickson told the Journal.
The property includes the main house, Deerlands, that overlooks Little Forked Lake, one of 22 lakes, and sleeps 34 in 17 bedrooms. The property also includes a trapper’s cabin from the 1800s and a timber operation, Hendrickson told the newspaper. A collection of Adirondack guide boats and canoes are being sold, he said.
In 1997, the state purchased 15,000 acres of Adirondack forest land from Whitney, which she inherited at the death of her husband Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney in 1992. The family’s plan at that time to build a hotel and 40 vacation homes on or near Little Tupper Lake prompted action by Gov. George Pataki, and the state paid $17 million to preserve a portion of the estate.
Whitney Park employed locals to care for its buildings and roads over the years, and Marylou Whitney donated to Long Lake’s medical center, library and other causes in the area. “They were very community-oriented and supportive of the town,” Seaman said when speculation of the property’s fate arose after Whitney’s death.