Classic Boat


“Lake George is without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1791, a decade before he became the third President of the United States, “formed by a contour of mountains into a basin… finely interspersed with islands, its water limpid as crystal, and the mountain sides covered with rich groves… down to the water-edge.” It was here – in the Adirondacks Mountains about 200 miles north of New York City – that the story of the motor launch Fanita Jr began.

Her first owner was John Boulton Simpson. Born in 1846, Simpson was a veteran of the American Civil War, a millionaire New York businessman, president of the Estey Piano Co, vice president of the New York State Historical Association and an active church warden. But most significantly, from the point of view of this story, he was the vice commodore of the Lake George Yacht Club and one of the five businessmen who financed the building of luxury hotel Sagamore on Lake George’s Green Island in 1882.

Simpson became the hotel’s president and was extremely involved in its operation, especially in the summer, when he would spend months at his own adjacent mansion, (named after his wife Fanny) was launched. Originally 65ft (19.8m) long – subsequently lengthened to 80ft (24.4m) – the described her as being “handsomely finished in mahogany and fine plush upholstery” and said that Simpson “does not stand on the dollars and cents, but will have the best”. Hotel guests would often initially travel to Lake George Village, 10 miles to the south of Green Island, and then be taken to the hotel on board . But Simpson’s yacht became best known for parties, some on board, others ashore at various venues around the lake, which transported the guests to.

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