1877 Ordway House (American Hotel)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—————————————————————————————————- Contact: Caroline Welsh

Blue Mountain Lake, NY———————————————————————————————————- 518-352-7311, Ext. 133

January, 2006




BLUE MOUNTAIN LAKE, N.Y. A nineteenth century painting has returned to the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake — its place of origin — thanks to a generous donation to the Adirondack Museum.

A promising young painter, Levi Wells Prentice of Syracuse, traveled to the Adirondack Mountains in the 1870s and filled sketchbooks with images of hostelries and landscapes around Blue Mountain Lake. He recorded in pencil and paint a brief period of history before these humble establishments were transformed into grander ones made famous by their Gilded Age patrons.

Prentice typically created paintings from his Adirondack sketches in his Syracuse studio. His fourth trip to the Adirondacks, in 1877, captured the essence of a young summer resort community with paintings such as Blue Mountain House, Adirondacks, Blue Mountain Lake, Adirondacks from Merwin’s, and Blue Mountain Lake with Ordway House. It is believed that the 15-by-24-inch oil-on-canvas painting of the Ordway House was first sketched on the hill overlooking the lake, just south of The Adirondack Museum, which was built on the former site of Miles Tyler Merwin’s Blue Mountain House.

Donald Jones, descendant of Mary Ordway, proprietress of the Ordway House, and his wife, Anna, of West Pawlet, Vermont, recently donated Blue Mountain Lake with Ordway House in its original 21-by-30-inch gold-leaf-surfaced, gesso-molded, decorated frame to The Adirondack Museum.

The painting features a bird’s-eye view of the Ordway House property as it was seen on Blue Mountain Lake’s Prospect Point in 1877. There are two guideboats plying through the placid water and a pair of hunters in a guideboat chasing after a white-tailed deer that is swimming toward the three-story hotel. The artist’s signature is in the lower right corner.

In 1877, James and Mary Ordway built the Ordway House, also known as the American Hotel. They sold the property in 1879 to Frederick C. Durant, who operated the hotel for its final season in 1880. He had the porch razed in the spring of 1881, and the structure was then added to the back end of his newly built six-story T-shaped hotel, the Prospect House. The Ordways owned the Prentice painting until 1915, when Mary Ordway gave it to her grandniece, Marjorie L. Jones, as a high school graduation gift. Jones handed it down to her son and daughter-in-law, David and Anna, in 1982.

Blue Mountain Lake with Ordway House was on display in 1993 during the Adirondack Museum’s exhibition on the artist, Levi Wells Prentice, titled, “Nature Staged.” Otherwise, it has been in the possession of the Ordway/Jones family since it was created.


Levi Wells Prentice (1851-1935) was born in the Lewis County hamlet of Harrisburgh. At an early age, he and his family moved to the village of Copenhagen and later relocated to the city of Syracuse, where his self-taught career as a painter began. While living in Syracuse from 1870 to 1879, he made several trips to the Adirondack Mountains and quickly established himself as one of the most talented and prolific Adirondack artists of his time.


The Adirondack Museum, a private not-for-profit organization, opens for its 49th consecutive season on Friday, May 26. For more information on exhibits and special events, please call (518) 352-7311 or visit www.AdirondackMuseum.org.