“COMFORT ISLAND” FOR SALE: FIX ‘ER UP GRAND VICTORIAN IN 1000 ISLANDS-AREA
History of property written by homeowner Tad Clark…
For many people 1000 Islands conjures thoughts of a salad dressing and indeed the 1000 Islands are where the salad dressing originated. Comfort Island is one of those beautiful thousand islands or actually one of some 1800 islands in Upper NY State and Southern Ontario, Canada.
History: George Pullman of Pullman sleeping car fame is credited with a clever marketing ploy which propelled the 1000 Islands into the national spotlight. In 1872 he invited President Ulysses S. Grant to visit his island, an offer which Grant accepted. The press corps that accompanied the President subsequently followed up Grant’s visit by submitting articles to the newspapers of various major cities detailing the splendor they encountered. The response was exactly what Mr. Pullman intended. The 1000 Islands became a vacation destination for people of means. An impressive number of magnificent resort hotels were built throughout the area. [more below]
Comfort Island’s great grandfather, Alson E. Clark, relocated from New Hampshire to Chicago following the Civil War and became a successful paint manufacturer. He married Sarah M. Skinner in 1869 and they produced four children.
They had taken their vacations at Old Point Comfort, Virginia until 1881 but in that year their daughter Mamie was stricken with diphtheria and died. Not wishing to return to a vacation spot of former happy memories, the Clarks came to visit their friends the Edwin Hills on Wahwinet Island in 1882. Just up river from the Hill residence was a fine uninhabited island that boasted a sand beach and protection from the prevailing wind. [more below]
On September 7, 1882 A.E. Clark purchased Pratt Island (now Comfort Island) from Humphrey Sisson for the sum of $1100. The island is about two acres in size. The Clarks began construction on a Victorian cottage that fall and spent approximately $12,000 on the project. They renamed the island “Comfort” in memory of Mamie.
Spacious rooms were the order of the day and the house includes eight bedrooms, a large living room with a fireplace, a dining room, a kitchen that still has original appliances on display, a maid’s quarters with three smaller bedrooms, three bathrooms and a large attic area where evening entertainment was provided in the 1880s and 1890s by guests and the three Clark boys. A ticket booth still exists in the attic.
A huge porch surrounded the house and provided a tree house-like perch to view passing activity on the river. One section of this porch was screened-in and used for outdoor dining. [more below]
For a variety of reasons, the house remained empty for decades and in the 60’s experienced a sort of renaissance, with the remaining Clark family returning to enjoy Comfort Island.
Today, perhaps as a consequence of being abandoned for so many years, very little has changed on the interior of the main house. The murals and artwork are partly responsible but regardless the house has remained essentially unchanged for at least a hundred years.
The spacious front porch continues to offer tree house-like views of the main shipping channel and the islands down river. The wicker and caned chairs are a century old but still functional. The one flat rail on the front railing heralds back to my great grandfather’s day in the 1880s when his evening cocktail toppled because the rail was peaked in the middle. [more below]
Time has essentially stood still at Comfort Island in the region of the St Lawrence Seaway touted by the tour boats as “Millionaire’s Row” and the “Playground of the rich and famous”.
Amazingly the Clark’s have remained owners of Comfort Island for all of the one-hundred, twenty-seven intervening years. Some contend this is the longest continuous ownership by the same family on the River. Regardless, our grandchildren are sixth generation “River Rats” which is an affectionate term given to those who share a lasting kinship with the ‘River’.
Comfort Island is listed by Sotheby’s Real Estate for $1,495,000. Auction shortly with a starting bid of $595,000. Contact Mike Franklin for more information at Mike.Franklin@SothebysRealty.com.
By Tad Clark, Comfort-Island.com. For more interesting real estate deals, visit TopTenRealEstateDeals.com.