Lake George lost a champion a half-century ago when the 91-year-old Charles H. Tuttle, the man who The Lake George Association honored as “Mr. Lake George,” died January 26th, 1971.
“His love for Lake George was an inspiration to all, including strangers as well as close friends,” the Ticonderoga Sentinel reported on February 4th.
The Post-Star, in a January 28th editorial, said Tuttle was on par with Glens Falls “native sons” Charles Evans Hughes, a New York governor, presidential candidate and Chief Justice of the United States, and Ralph Porter Patterson, U.S. Secretary of War.
“Charles H. Tuttle, an adopted son of this region, belongs with them.”
The adoption, as such, came quickly.
He first came to Lake George as an infant, in July 1879, and consistently spent time in the community, residing in later decades at “Halcyon,” his Lake George estate at Tea Island.
“With great delight, I’ve been able to spend most of my own summer at ‘Halcyon’ on the west shore of the Lake and look across at this fabulous mountain,” Tuttle wrote in his memoirs, published by his family in 2002. “If it had a tongue, the story the mountain could tell. … I pause in wonder why God did not end creation with such majesty. Did he move on to make Man in order to have someone to sense its glory?”
Newspaper reports of the former United State Attorney for New York’s Southern District, who lost the 1930 gubernatorial race to FDR, often identified Tuttle as a resident of New York City and Lake George.
“We doff our editorial hat to whom we believe to be Lake George’s oldest summer resident, a man who has done more for Lake George than any man we know – Hon. Charles H. Tuttle of New York City and Lake George,” The Lake George Mirror editorialized on July 4th, 1969.
He didn’t view Lake George as a part-time home, but thought of the Queen of American Lakes and the Big Apple as equal residences.
This was evidenced by his two funerals – one January 28th at New York City and the other January 29th at Lake George.
In Lake George, he was an environmental advocate, associated with the Lake George Association, serving as president in 1928 and 1929, and as general counsel for many years, and for about a decade was a commissioner on the Lake George Park Commission.
In 1955, he penned an essay, “Wake Up Lake George,” for the August 12th Mirror protesting a proposal to replace the state’s Lake George anti-pollution law with a weaker law.
“Our special statute, enacted in 1947 at the instance of the Lake George Association and other civic bodies, is absolute, unequivocal, unambiguous and without loopholes, gimmicks, red tape, remote or bureaucratic authority. … What is being substituted for our special statute is without any of these guarantees,” he wrote.
On February 10th, 1970, Tuttle wrote to his children about being appointed to a second nine-year term on the park commission: “I have been in love with Lake George. From my youth up I have been her liegeman in the realm of Natural Beauty. Hence the weight of my present years is lightened by the thought of being continued as one of the Palace Guard for this Queen of Lakes.”
The Lake George Motor Court Association eulogized Tuttle as a “steadfast and faithful protector of this Queen of American lakes.”
He was the developer of “Top’ O The World” a golf course and resort on top of French Mountain that had been a chicken farm and lodge before Tuttle bought it.
In 1935, he developed a ski jump at the resort and brought the Ruud brothers, world champion ski jumpers, to Lake George.
He was “one of the principal movers” in development of the state’s Prospect Mountain Memorial Highway, The Post-Star reported.
Tuttle circulated a petition in 1937 asking that the Legislature direct that a paved highway be constructed up Prospect Mountain.
He was still promoting the idea in 1951, when the Mirror backed it.
“We heartily agree with Mr. Tuttle. From the top of Prospect Mountain one can obtain a marvelous view of the surrounding country,” the Mirror editorialized on August 10th, 1951. “We heartily endorse Mr. Tuttle’s suggestion and urge that the people of Lake George take the matter up at once and see what can be done to get that project under way.”
Tuttle had hiked Prospect Mountain as a child, and in 1907, hiked with his wife just after their marriage.
His goal finally came to pass in 1969, and Tuttle was keynote speaker at the dedication, calling the highway “a new and gleaming chapter to the immemorial story of Lake George and its wonderland,” the Mirror reported.
In October 1970, a few months before his death, the Lake George Chamber of Commerce honored Tuttle as an “Outstanding Citizen,” and presented him with a plaque crafted from a piece of granite from Prospect Mountain. In New York City, Tuttle was a lawyer and education leader.
In both communities he was a man of faith, charity, and good will. “Mr. Tuttle was a man of infinite grace and charm, and could be powerfully persuasive,” The Post-Star editorialized.
A New York Times obituary on January 27th quoted from a commencement speech Tuttle delivered a few years previous, when he received an honorary doctorate from City College of New York. Tuttle was a trustee at the college from 1913 to 1926.
“Always stand up tall, straight and free. Face the future with courage and responsibility,” he said. “Hold fast the truth … that the things which are now are not worthy to become parcel with the things which are to be.”
Portrait of Charles H. Tuttle.