October 1, 2015
Villa Nirvana – A Place of Great Peace or Bliss?
John Boulton’s summer home, Villa Nirvana on Green Island. Photo courtesy of William P. Gates.
Pictured above is ‘Villa Nirvana’ It was the summer home of John Boulton, one of the original investors in the Green Island Improvement Company. today. Always a showplace, the gardens, grounds and building were and still are ‘impeccably maintained.’ Photo courtesy of William Preston Gates.
The Mohican House in Bolton Landing was the first hotel in Bolton and the first hotel on the Lake. It was a place where tourists could gather and enjoy the lake and surrounding area. The first hotel on the site was built in 1802, and it attracted many New York and Philadelphia businessmen. Sometime prior to the 1880s it was managed by Myron O. Brown. It was Brown who suggested to several prominent businessmen that they should invest in Green Island, construct a magnificent hotel there and appoint him as manager. They did!
The four successful businessmen were Robert Glendenning (from Glens Falls), and E. Burgess Warren, William B. Bement, and George Burnham (all of Philadelphia). They purchased Green Island for about $ 30,000 and formed the Green Island Improvement Company in 1881. Soon after, a fifth wealthy investor joined the group. He was John Boulton Simpson of New York City.
The first house built on the island was built by Ferdinand Theriot. It was a small house that was eventually moved near the bridge. That building, after many additions, still stands today and is a private residence.
Sometime after 1882, four mansions (cottages) were constructed on the southern shore of Green Island by four of the original investors:
“East Cottage” was owned by George Burnham and was torn down and burned in the 1960s toopen up the views from the hotel to the islands in the Narrows;
“Wapanak” was owned by Commodore E. Burgess Warren and still stands today;
“Belle View” was owned by William Bement and was torn down to accommodate the swimming pool and improve views; and,
”Villa Nirvana” was owned by John Boulton Simpson and still stands today.
Villa Nirvana was not just the family’s summer cottage. The Boulton family divided their time between Bolton Landing and New York City. They would arrive in Caldwell by private train and be met by their personal steam yacht to take them up the lake.
Villa Nirvana was and remains a showplace. Adjacent to the Sagamore Resort, it is famous for its many porches with terrific southern views. It can be rented year round and can accommodate up to 18 people. It is air-conditioned with nine bedrooms and 6 ½ baths. One week in the summer and special holiday weeks in 2016 Villa Nirvana will rent for $13,000. For off season times (other than summer and special weeks), it is only $8,000. There is also a $500+ cleaning fee. (Figures for renting the property come from Davies-Davies& Associates Real Estate Agency).
Material for this column was prepared by Stan Cianfarano for the Warren County Historical Society. Sources include The History of the Sagamore Hotel by William Preston Gates, Old Bolton on Lake George by William Preston Gates, and The Chronicle, Vol. 34, No. 1,547 dated July 31-Aug. 6, 2014. Thanks to Mr. Gates for permission to use his material and photograph.