For Immediate Release
Acquisition Ensures “Children May Always Play” On Eagle Island
SARANAC LAKE, NY — Friends of Eagle Island, Inc. (FEI) today announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to acquire Eagle Island in Upper Saranac Lake from the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey Council.
The Friends of Eagle Island was able to make the purchase through the extraordinary generosity of an anonymous donor whose gift ensures that “children may always play” on Eagle Island, which served as an active Girl Scout camp from 1937 until 2008.
Dorcas R. Hardy, president of the Friends of Eagle Island, said, “We are absolutely delighted with this outcome and the opportunity to conserve Eagle Island, preserve the Historic Landmark buildings, and restore the property for youth camping and the public. We are grateful to the generosity of our donor and appreciate the willingness of the Girl Scouts to work with us to achieve this worthwhile purpose.”
In 1910, Levi Morton, former United States Vice President and Governor of New York, sold Eagle Island and its related properties—two small islands and a mainland “base” on Gilpin Bay—to Henry Graves, Jr., a New Jersey industrialist. In 1937, Graves and his wife Florence donated Eagle Island to the Girl Scouts of the Oranges, New Jersey, to keep the spirit of childhood alive after the tragic deaths of their two sons.
The Girl Scouts operated Camp Eagle Island for 70 years, providing life changing high adventure, wilderness and sailing programs to thousands of girls and young women. Following a series of Girl Scout council consolidations, new leadership initiatives by the National Girl Scouts and financial needs of the local council, Girl Scouts Heart of NJ discontinued Eagle Island’s use as a camp and decided to sell the island in 2010.
This decision was a great disappointment to the campers, camp counselors, alumnae, and the Graves family and sparked the formation of Friends of Eagle Island. This group along with others set out to preserve the 70 year legacy for future generations.
The Friends of Eagle Island’s vision for the future includes sharing Eagle Island more broadly to make the island an integral asset of the Adirondack Park and Upper Saranac Lake community. Plans under discussion include providing public access through visitation and recreational use, historic preservation tours, environmental education for children and families, and by hosting public events and programs in its expansive interior and exterior spaces.
Henry D. (“Buz”) Graves Jr., great-grandson of the original donor of Eagle Island and a Friends of Eagle Island board member, said, “On behalf of my family and myself, we are very pleased that my great-grandparents’ intentions will continue to be fulfilled and that young people and others will forever enjoy Eagle Island.”
About Friends of Eagle Island
Friends of Eagle Island, Inc., is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) entity dedicated to the purchase and resumption of operations on the Eagle Island property as a place of learning and adventure for young people. For more information and opportunities to support the Friends of Eagle Island’s efforts to secure a bright future for Eagle Island, go to www.friendsofeagleisland.org.
About Eagle Island
Situated in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks, Eagle Island consists of approximately 32 total acres, and the island is accessible from the mainland only by boat. The property’s main structures were built as a “Great Camp” in 1903 for Morton and were designed by the pre-eminent Adirondack architect William L. Coulter. Eagle Island was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2004.
Eagle Island – Where History Meets the Future!