an Adirondack Express article
History of The Woods Inn
The Woods Inn began as Hess Camp, built in 1894 by
Fred Hess in the West Central Adirondacks at the end of Fourth Lake on the
Fulton Chain of Lakes. Fred Hess owned several other successful hotels in
the area including a lodge on Cedar Island, also situated on Fourth Lake.
Philo Wood, who managed two hotels for Fred Hess, purchased
Hess Camp in 1898 and re-named it The Wood Hotel. Over the next 20 years,
The Wood Hotel underwent expansion, tripling the number of rooms and adding
new cottages to the hotel grounds. In the early years, canvas tents on platforms
provided even more rooms for summer lodgers.
Philo Wood enjoyed a long run of success, filling The Wood
Hotel with guests who arrived by steamboat with
trunks and stayed for months of relaxation and comfort. Outdoor enthusiasts
enjoyed camping, hunting and
fishing by hiring well-known Inlet Adirondack Guides such as Wellington
Kenwell, C.D. Kirche, Milo Leitch,
R.D. Norton, John J. Rarick, F.L. Tiffany and E. J. Van Aerman.
The Wood Hotel was re-visited year after year by guests and
their families returning for annual stays. Each spring The Hotel was opened,
aired and cleaned awaiting the arrival of the summer season's first guests.
The air turned from crisp to a perfect mid-day breeze just as the Steamer
arrived at the pier with weary travelers looking forward to the solitude
offered by The Wood.
In 1946, William Dunay, an Air Force First Lieutenant returning
from World War II, purchased The Wood Hotel. The Wood flourished under Dunay's
direction and the dedication of his siblings who signed on as The Hotel's
staff. The Dunays brought polish and new energy to The Wood, and fortunately
changed little of the original Adirondack historical structure.
Wood Hotel closed in the 1980s, with the tavern remaining open until William
Dunay's death in 1989. The contents of The Hotel were auctioned and the
response was surprising. Many generations of guests had great memories of
The Wood Hotel and wanted to purchase a piece of it. The property sat empty
for years while the Dunay Estate received many offers to purchase it. Most
perspective buyers had plans to
demolish the original buildings. The Dunay's waited patiently hoping for
buyers interested in restoring and re-opening The Wood.
The current proprietors, Joedda and Jay, purchased the property
in 2003 and began the challenging task of historic designation and restoring
the property to current building codes. Fortunately, Joedda and Jay brought
years of restoration experience to the project. Restoration involved winterizing
the original structures, new plumbing, septic system, heating, complete
re-wiring, sprinkler system and holding tanks. Much of the exterior porches
and stairs were replaced precisely as they once were.
This was just the beginning...the "bones" of the
old hotel were still solid and charming. Memories of great times echoed
in every room. The Wood hotel re-opened as The Woods Inn in June of 2004.
The hotel restaurant and tavern, The Laughing Loons, re-opened in May 2004.
The tavern, dining room, great room and lake-side cottages
are still as they originally were when The Hess Camp was first built. The
wrap-around porches still boast a truly panoramic view of Fourth Lake and
The decor and generous ambiance will be an "Adirondack
Great Camp Style"...rustic and comfortable with antiques and modern
amenities. Most importantly, the new owners want The Woods Inn to be a fun
and stress-free place.
Prior to World War II, the town of Inlet boasted ten Adirondack
hotels. The Woods Inn is now the only historic hotel remaining open year
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