If These Walls Could Talk

The Rich History of Melody Manor Resort

After the civil war and during the guilded age, vast estates were built along the western shores of Lake George. The 8 mile stretch from Lake George village to the town of Bolton soon garnered the moniker Millionaire’s Row for the lavish mansions that were built there.

Dr William Beckers, a German born chemist, gained fortune and notoriety for his clothing dye patent, believed unfairly by some, to have been given to him by Kaiser Wilhelm II after WWI commenced and all trade between Germany and the United States halted.

One of the original investors in the Sagamore Hotel, Dr Beckers searched the shores of Lake George for the most beautiful spot on which to build his summer estate. Named after his beloved wife, Villa Marie Antoinette was built between 1916-1918. No expense was spared in furnishing the Spanish style, stucco mansion, as great artisans were brought in from around the world to design and build the lavish furnishings. The Gate house, replete with stables and horses for easy access to the property, was revitalized in the early 1990s as a beautiful Antique shop and features many antiquities and pictures from the mansion during it’s heyday.

After the death of Dr Beckers, the estate was sold to Harry K Thaw, heir to a massive fortune from his families railroad empire in Pittsburgh. Harry, once married to broadway star Evelyn Nesbit, gained infamy for murdering the prominent architect, Stanford White, atop Madison Square Garden during an evening play in the summer of 1906. Deemed, “murder of the century,” the events were memorialized in the film, Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, starring Joan Collins as Evelyn Nesbit and Farley Granger as Harry Thaw. Harry’s family’s fortune kept him from the electric chair with a plea of a fit of momentary insanity or “Brainstorm,” where the original meaning of the term was coined.

After years in the State Hospital, Harry purchased Villa Marie Antoinette in the early 1940’s and although an older man at this point in his life, was known for throwing extravagant parties, bussing in young women from New York City for eventful summer weekends at the Villa.

Shortly after Harry Thaw’s death, the property was purchased by Mr and Mrs Dombek of Forrest Hills, NY. For a few years, they ran the manor as an Inn, offering accommodations and meals for eager vacationers. Maintenance and taxes were a heavy financial burden, and with no foundation to provide support, the mansion was regretfully demolished in 1953. Most of the antiquities were sold at auction to the highest bidder, and what wasn’t was imploded with the mansion.

In 1977 the Dombeks sold Melody Manor to Mr and Mrs Hamm, whose family continues to run the resort 3 generations later.