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Fairview Manor

Above Clayton, about the year 1937, Fairview Manor was constructed of boulders, sometimes said to be “Adirondack river stone.” Actually, the stone came from the site, which had served as a quarry operated by the farmer who sold the property.  No doubt the stone is glacial till of the sort that probably underlies Bartlett point and surrounding areas. 

The author, who was seven years old when the building was rising, recalls how he was enthralled to watch the fabric blades of a working Dutch windmill rotating slowly near the main house.  Pure magic for a youngster.  The mill tower is still there, awaiting restoration of the blades. 

Fairview Manor is a good site for a windmill, being on a hilltop where the daily thermal winds from Lake Ontario have provide reliable wind power.  Indeed, in recent times proposals for “wind farms” in this area, between Clayton and Cape Vincent, and on nearby Wolfe Island have been controversial in local communities.

Fairview Manor is not “modern” in style, like Niagara Island, but like Nelfred, it is “modern” at least in evading reference to traditional historic styles.  Owner Carl Zimmerman was a cosmopolitan world-traveler, however, no doubt familiar with historic styles.  The interiors were filled with objects collected abroad, many contributing to a sophisticated aura today. The Dutch windmill was but one more item recalling Zimmerman’s travels. The formal planning of house and grounds suggest European precedent. French manor houses were popularized by magazines of the 1920s and 1930s.  But the building is inventive in form, the plan being a bent bar that embraces a spectacular terrace on the river side that provides a vantage point for watching the procession of freighters on the St. Lawrence Seaway, together with stunning sunset views.  Clearly, the concept for the house was generated by this vision of the high terrace.

Fairview Terrace

Fairview Manor, view westward towards Kingston.  Paul Malo photograph.

Within, an oval room with French doors opening onto the terrace is one of the lovliest and most elegant interior spaces of the region.  The character strikes one as very chic French.  Unlike the entry hall, it has no massive stone fireplace recalling the Adirondacks, but rather a classically simply stone frame surrounds the opening.  The late afternoon light, reflected from the river below, creates a memorable glow in this enchanted space.

Fairview Party

Author’s dinner party at Fairview Manor for F. S. Ellis family of California. Judith Wellman, author’s historian wife, herself an author, at left.


The main house at Fairview Manor is approached from the highway by a long, straight driveway.  The effect is rather formal, again recalling French practice, as the large building is not merely monumental but symmetrical—not perfectly balanced, however, since pergola extensions connect the windmill tower on one side. By way of balance, ancillary structures are aligned with the driveway on the opposite side, one of them a chapel.

 Fairview Manor front


The windmill appears at left. It pumped water from the river.

As might be expected of a building constructed during the Great Depression, when materials were cheap and labor plentiful, the fabric of Fairview Manor evidences quality.  Random ashlar masonry, particularly employing rounded boulders as seen here, demands care and skill and much time.  To construct this house today would be a challenge to craftsmen’s skill as well as owner’s budget.

The construction campaign actually was rather heroic, since it was something of a do-it-yourself process undertaken by the owner and a crew of workers from his regular business, the Carbola Chemical Company.  Huge boulders on the site needed to be moved by means of a stone sled,  drawn by mule teams and hoisted into place by means of ropes and simple derricks.  Zimmerman supervised construction himself, assisted by a key employee, Walter T. Anstey.  No other general contractor or heavy construction equipment was involved.

Carl Zimmerman reminds one of George Boldt, another do-it-yourself builder of German descent, attracted to ambitious projects.  The technical challenge of building Fairview Manor recalls the campaign at Niagara Island. In all instances, although difficulty is not a measure of architectural quality, the degree of engagement in overcoming difficulty provides a layer of value to one’s assessment.

Fairview Manor was not the first Zimmerman summer home on the river. The family recalled another, earlier cottage in the Clayton neighborhood. Perhaps Zimmerman connected with the Fairview Manor site, then a quarry, through his business, which entailed quarrying operations for chemicals.  He may have been inspired by the quantity of readily accessible boulders available at the Fairview site, challenged by their monumentality—some weighing a half-ton.  Anyone (like the author) who is endowed with a tropism for building cannot fail to be inspired by a pile of rocks.

Fairview Manor may not be outstanding in the region collection of buildings for the dept of development of its architecture.  There were no ninety some large sheets of drawings here, we may safely suppose, but more was in Carl Zimmerman’s eye, or jotted between phone calls in his New York City office on note pads. But Carl Zimmerman had a “good eye,” and sophisticated, cosmopolitan taste.  He left us one of the most engaging summer homes on the river.

Carl Zimmerman enjoyed Fairview  Manor with his wife, Gladys, and two step-children until his death in 1958 a age eighty.  Thereafter the property was transferred to the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who built the chapel and enjoyed the property as a religious retreat until acquired by John and Jeanette Dedek, who since 2000 have operated a restaurant here.  The property has been well maintained throughout all three tenures.

 Fairview shorr

The Fairview Manor estate is comprised of eighteen acres with 850 feet of waterfront.  The terrain slopes so as to afford scenic outlooks from many elevations, hence subdivision development potential is high.

Fairview path 


Fairview Manor is one of the premier historic landmarks of the Thousand Islands--a scenic estate with great potential for development.

Fairview Aerial

By Paul Malo, May 2008



Posted in: Architecture
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Joanna A. Gould
Comment by: Joanna A. Gould ( )
Left at: 10:12 PM Friday, August 28, 2009
I enjoy this site and was enthralled with its beauty. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the food serve. More than enough for two people sight seeing and trying new things.

I highly recommend this as an extreme tourist attraction and a place to relax while enjoying the surrounding beauties of nature!

Fondly remembered
Comment by: Virginia ( )
Left at: 2:53 PM Thursday, August 22, 2013
While visiting the area on vacation, we stumbled upon this property. I was heart broken to see such neglect of such a once beautiful home. So much history. I am curious to know why or what prevents this to be restored or at least cleaned up. It seemed as if people where there one day and then just disappeared. Dishes still on the tables! Such a loss.
Comment by: Clarissa ( )
Left at: 9:10 AM Tuesday, April 8, 2014
It is such a loss. What a beautiful place. It has such raw natural beauty. Would so love the opportunity to fix it up and offer to the public again.
Lillian Farr
Comment by: Lillian Farr ( )
Left at: 10:26 PM Monday, May 5, 2014
I use to spend alot of time at Fairview Manor in the 60's, I use to travel to Fairview to visit the Holy Cross sisters who would travel to Redwood to teach catechism. I would volunteer to help them clean as it was a huge home for the few nuns who lived there through out the year. It was the summer house for the Holy Cross sisters and was busy during the summer.

It was such a beautiful retreat for them, and I loved going on weekends to help them keep it up. My girlfriend and I enjoyed it so much, as when the cleaning was done, we could enjoy being on the dock and fishing and just loved seeing the beautiful St. Lawrence River. I have many great memories of spending time at Fairview, and I also hate to see it not kept up in the regal manner it used to be.
Comment by: Joanna ( )
Left at: 7:10 AM Tuesday, May 6, 2014
To Lillian that is exactly as I was told it was a nun retreat and later became a restaurant. The scenario was very precious indeed!
Joy Oxley
Comment by: Joy Oxley ( )
Left at: 10:23 PM Saturday, June 7, 2014
I came across an old postcard, of the Zimmerman estate, sent to my Grandmother, by her cousin in law,
Gladys C Zimmerman, in 1957. She had just come from the house, stating"No trouble driving home house in perfect condition hardly any dust cold up there deal isn't closed on house yet"
I have heard stories about my Dad being sent up spend summers with his cousin Gladys. Presently trying to research Oxley family history.
Kari Garcia
Comment by: Kari Garcia
Left at: 6:43 PM Thursday, July 9, 2015
Joy Oxley - my family may be related to yours. My grandmother was Gladys Glover who married Jack Zimmerman. Would like to learn more and see how you are related to the family!
Kari Garcia
Elaine Tack
Comment by: Elaine Tack
Left at: 3:22 PM Saturday, October 22, 2016
Dear Kari:
I am doing a historical video piece on Fairview Manor. I am trying to locate family videos of the time your grandmother and Carl Jack Zimmerman were there. And I would love to locate someone who visited during their time there. Can yo be of any help to me?
Thank you very much
Elaine Vedette Tack