pinions moving, the oars are plied the church to reach...."
small chapel of graceful design stands on this island, and, with its parsonage,
forms an interesting feature of the locality."
the summer of 1957, my parents
were paddling their canoe through a group of islands on Raquette Lake when
Mother glanced over her shoulder. “That must be the island church that
we’ve heard so much about!” she exclaimed. The place had not been used
for worship for nearly 20 years, but many people in the North Country still
fondly remembered it.
father, the Rev. Ralph M. Carmichael, had been the rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal at the corner of Main and
Madison avenues since 1955, and Albany Bishop Frederick Barry would soon appoint him priest-in-charge of the
Church of the Transfiguration, a summer
chapel in Blue Mountain Lake, 12 miles from Raquette Lake.
parents loved to camp...our family had done so in 46 states...and had been
staying at the Golden Beach State Park on Raquette Lake while Dad was preaching
at the Church of the Transfiguration. But
the possibility of having a roof overhead was a treat...especially for my three
younger brothers and Penny our Springer spaniel.
along with my brothers Paul and Andy, pulled up their canoe, and went exploring.
What was originally known as Bluff Island
had been renamed St. Hubert's Isle in honor of the patron saint of
hunters. Imagine their surprise when, after struggling through over
three acres of brush, they found the island church in excellent shape.
site also included
a three-story rectory, guest cottage, ice house, workshop, Necessary House, gazebo and
But trees that blew down in a huge 1950 storm damaged buildings
and still blocked almost
wasn't always like this. Back in 1879, William West Durant
(1850-1934) decided he needed something to encourage families to purchase
his new Adirondack camps and a church would be just the thing.
He met with William Croswell
Doane, the first Episcopalian Bishop of
Albany, who agreed.
The Raquette region is an important
point; not only because travellers and visitors are increasing in number, and
because the railroad will soon open it for settlement, but because many guides
are gathered there, and the population is entirely uncared for.
Hubert's was sold for $1 to the Diocese of Albany, and a fund appeal was sent
out for the
“Mission Church of the Good Shepherd,” listing Durant as Warden and John
Boyd Thacher (1847-1909), Treasurer.
Mr. Thacher was later state senator
and then Mayor of Albany as was his father George before him, and later his nephew,
John Boyd Thacher II. The land for Thacher Park outside Albany was donated
in 1914 by his widow, Emma Treadwell Thacher.
Doane dedicated the church on September 12, 1880. Durant built the
rectory in 1882, also donating the solid granite
baptismal font, the bell manufactured by the Meneely
Bell Co. of Troy, NY, and the 1873
Estey pump organ from Bennington, VT. The church and
dedicated to the people of Raquette Lake. Services were held
each Sunday as well as Morning Prayer on weekdays,
usually from July through September.
Members of the
Stott family, who owned
a camp on Bluff Point, played a major role in the property's upkeep. 
Francis and Elizabeth Stott also donated the Tiffany windows in 1883 in memory
of two of their 10 children. In December 1894 the Rev. William Brown-Serman
was appointed priest-in-charge of both the Stotts' home church, St. Barnabas in
Stottville, and of Good Shepherd on Raquette Lake. The Brown-Serman family would remain the driving force there for
Hubert's was the perfect central location for the only church within 25
were no major roadways until
1900 most of the boat traffic on Raquette Lake was between the settlement of
Durant on Long Point and either (1) the Marion River Carry to Blue
Lake, (2) the carry between Brown's Tract and Eighth Lake to Fulton Chain
Carry on to Long Lake - all had
to pass by St. Hubert's Isle.
Each Sunday morning
from 1880-1900 the Stott women (likely Elizabeth Stott and her daughter) fired a small cannon [now at the
Adirondack Museum] on Bluff Point to let everyone on the
lake know that
the “Church Boat” was approaching.
1921 Alfred Donaldson's "A
History of the Adirondacks" included the entry:
"The scene of a bright Sunday morning, when the boats gathered from far and
near, filled with worshippers in gay apparel, was highly picturesque and gave
church-going the novel charm of a devotional outing to a shrine of God-tinged
Brown-Serman family held services through 1941, but nearly 20 years later when
my family encountered the place, paths had to be cleared, roofs replaced, the
old icehouse and workshop knocked down before services could resume in 1959.
1960 my parents purchased St. Hubert’s from the Albany diocese, and in 1993
the property was put into a
trust. Over the years, volunteers have
done much of the work on the Island. In
1968 and 1969 Boy Scout Troop 400 from Syracuse under Jack Eckland repaired the
leaking roof and rebuilt the foundation in time for the rededication of the
church by Bishop Barry. In 1980 the church exterior was
restored by Troop 400...using old photographs...to as close to the original as
possible for the 100th anniversary. 
Scout Troop 2 from Albany, under the leadership of Bob Conklin and earlier his
father, has been up many times to clear brush, cut wood and sweep the paths.
We are now holding a building fund drive, hoping to
repair the stone foundation and the roof.
1959, we have held a vespers service on the first Sunday of August at 4 pm
[changed to 3 pm in 2007]. It is evening prayer using the old hymnals and prayers books.
For 28 years the Echo Camp girls choir led the music, then two brass quintets from Baltimore
from 1977-1995. Last year we had
folk music. Next Sunday , Michael
Salvatore from St. Peter’s Episcopal in Beverly, MA, will perform period reed
music on the 1873 pump organ. The Rev. Nancy Rosenblum, deacon at St..
Paul's Episcopal in Troy, will preside.
service is ecumenical and open to all.
transport is available from the Raquette Lake Village dock beginning at 3 pm.
For information call 315.354.4267 or visit www.sthubertsisle.com/
was for many years a professional trombonist in Baltimore and is now a band
director with the Troy Public Schools.
Published 27 July 2002
Times Union, Albany, NY
Voices of Faith: Isle Church Still Holds Services
Section E, page 1
to Adirondack Writings
 The Rev.
Edward Octavus Flagg. "Adirondack
Poems, St. Hubert's Isle, Number One." Earlier and Later Poems.
(New York City: Thomas Whittaker. 1906). 123-124.
of New York Annual Report of the Forest Commission for 1893. vol. 1.
(Albany State Printer: James B. Lyon. 1894). 259.
York State Museum at Albany. Letter
from "William Croswell Doane,
Episcopalian Bishop of Albany,
to William West Durant." (1879). Copy of letter in possession of Carmichael
sent to the public by William West Durant and John Boyd Thacher. (1879).
Copy of notice in possession of Carmichael Family Trust.
Gilborn. Durant: The Fortunes and Woodland Camps of a Family in the
Adirondacks. (Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 1981).
Appendix B, 150-153.
 Alfred L.
Donaldson. A History of the Adirondacks. (New York: Century Co. 1921).
Vol. II. 94.
"Boy Scouts Give Island Church A Facelift." Syracuse [NY]
Sunday Post-Standard. (July 1980)
to Adirondack Writings