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A Dream Realized After 120 Years

On 9 July, 2014 Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the opening of the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel in Clayton, NY, with the following remarks: 

"Today, the North Country is gaining a tremendous asset to attract tourism and generate economic activity in the region.The 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel will help draw and retain visitors to the North Country for years to come, and I am proud that the State was able to play a role in bringing this important project to fruition. Tourism is a major driver for the Upstate economy, and this is another example of how we are working to grow the industry and create new opportunities for New Yorkers in the region." 

Now step back 120 years…

Charles Goodwin Emery is remembered for three main accomplishments; they are the cigarette making machine, building Calumet Castle and the establishing the New Hotel Frontenac on Round Island.

Born in New Portland, Maine on 20 July 1836; he learned the tobacco business from his Uncle Eben Goodwin. Virtually retiring from the tobacco business when he merged is Uncle’s old firm Goodwin Tobacco with four other companies to form the American Tobacco Company in 1890. He served as treasurer of the new company for a short time and then served as a trustee.

His development of a cigarette making machine provided him with great wealth, as a partner in Bonsack Machine Co., which paid dividends bi-monthly! This added to his income from his interest in American Tobacco, allowing him to pursue his dreams in the Thousand Islands. 

He became a friend of George C. Boldt and some say they competed in efforts to develop their properties in the Islands. Indeed, there were many similarities; they built castles, bought large tracks of land in the islands, had a houseboat, a large yacht, and ran a hotel. Boldt’s Waldorf-Astoria was very different from Emery’s New Hotel Frontenac, one a huge property on a big island the other a summer resort hotel on a small island. They did have one thing in common; their owners strived to make them the finest hotels possible.

Emery had a grand scheme for Clayton and after a large fire occurred in 1895, he proposed to remove all buildings on Water Street (now Riverside) between the street and the river. He also planned to erect a grand hotel. This plan would have beautified Clayton.  However, the plan failed due to the opposition from some merchants and some legal issues. Emery looked elsewhere to build his grand hotel. Instead he purchased the Hotel Frontenac on Round Island in 1899 and remodeled it into the luxurious New Hotel Frontenac!

Now jump forward 115 years and at last Clayton has a Grand Hotel, the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel.

The 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel is a luxurious 105 room property located at the former Frink Snow plow location. It is a $23 million facility, a joint venture between Hart Hotels and the Krog Corp owned by Clayton Harbor LLC and operated by Hart Hotels, a hotel management company located in Buffalo, New York.

The project received support from various government agencies including a 15 year PILOT agreement with Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

The 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel offers all the services and amenities you would expect, including deluxe guest rooms and suites, many with river views and patios! The hotel services include a professional on site concierge, nightly turn down services, indoor pool and Jacuzzi, business center, restaurant, and bar, fitness center, and over 6,000 square feet of conference, and banquet space including a grand ballroom, and breakout meeting space. Guests can dine outside and enjoy spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River and fire pits on the Riverside Patio.

If only Charles Emery were here to see it built; few men have their dreams come true ninety- nine years later.

By Rexford M. Ennis,

Copyright 2014 Rexford M. Ennis All Rights Reserved

Rex Ennis has written several articles for TI Life.   His bio is recorded in Contributors in December, 2008. In the past two years Rex has published two important books on the Thousand Islands.  The first, published in 2010 is Toujours Jeune Always Young, the biography of Charles G. Emery.  It was reviewed in the June 2010 issue.  The second, Saints, Sinners and Sailors of the Gilded Age: A compendium of biographical sketches, centered on the Gilded Age in the Thousand Islands, which describes the biographies of every name appearing on a 1889 map published by Frank H. Taylor called: Map of the Thousand Islands; Hotels, Parks and Cottages.  See the book review in our July 2011 issue and you will find the map described in the July issue, in the August 2011 issue.  Luckily for TI Life readers, Rex is hard at work on a new book – so stay tuned.


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Peter Charron
Comment by: Peter Charron ( )
Left at: 11:41 PM Thursday, August 14, 2014
We're all rooting for success, especially given our trying seasonal economy. I know there'll be some growing pains. I'm writing this here, because I'm certain it'll get the operators attention. Not seating patrons in an almost empty resturant with the excuse you're understaffed is simply rude. What do we do? Leave? Just seat us with a polite apology that there will be a wait. We'll understand. And... The wine list is challenging, actually strange. Its great to promote local wines to a point. But offering cheap Barefoot wine or pretentious Opus One as the only California choices is bizarre. This is not the Finger Lakes! Nevertheless, we'll all be back again and again because we want this to succeed! Thanks for listening.
Stan Ren
Comment by: Stan Ren ( )
Left at: 2:15 PM Friday, August 15, 2014
Everytime I open up my monthly issue it takes me back to my childhood going into a penny candy story and wondering where I start first as the articles are so good. This was my first choice as the hotel is a remarkable building, long overdue and will most certainly help Clayton economically along with the boat museum. I know I can't wait till I have a chance to enjoy the dining there..
Herb Swingle
Comment by: Herb Swingle ( )
Left at: 7:26 AM Monday, August 18, 2014
Janet Sullins
Comment by: Janet Sullins
Left at: 7:36 PM Thursday, August 28, 2014
I have eaten at the restaurant a couple of times; the service was pleasant. The food was well worth the wait, and the prices not unreasonable. Consider the only other major gourmet restaurant (before the hotel and Capt. Johnston House, which I understand has higher food prices) Perhaps their clientele will spill over too the hotel when they close for the season. There was a bit of a wait for food, but that was to be expected; it was crowded. The bar has some items the barmaid admitted she'd never heard of and they add new things everyday. They are having some growing pains; they need to hire more people, but they can only train so many at a time. The wheat will be separated from the chaff as time rolls along. A recent wedding couple said there were rosepetals spelling out their names on the bed and champagne in the room...How cool is that! And now with the Napa Valley earthquake, perhaps more local wines will be added to the menu. I'm sure they are using what has worked in their other hotels, but may change when they find out what people in our area would prefer. Kudos to a tremendous undertaking and I'm sure, by the almost constantly full parking lot, they've grabbed the brass ring!