Inventor Frank Ritter of Rochester Purchases Kepler’s Point, Builds Lindenhof In 1889
One of the many western New Yorkers to come to the Thousand Islands over the years, Frank Ritter built Lindenhof after purchasing what was then Kepler Point from Lewis Kepler and John F. Walton of Alexandria Bay for the price of $1,500. The property was renamed shortly after to Lindenhof, or several different variations of (Lindenhof, Lindenhoff, Linden Hof, and later changed to Linden Cove, also found as Lyndon Cove, all found throughout various publications.)
Frank Ritter was described in 1889 as “a wealthy retired German of Rochester,” though retirement didn’t seem to suit him as he went from manufacturing and dealing furniture to inventing the modern dentist chair which saw his interests dovetail into The Ritter Dental Co., which supplied numerous equipment to dentistries throughout the world including x-ray machines and, of course, dental chairs. In fact, the Ritter name continues to be one of the leading trademarks in such equipment to this very day.
The lucrative businesses not only allowed Frank Ritter to build one of the palatial homes on the mainland of the St. Lawrence River, adjacent to Keewaydin and an even shorter distance from Longue Vue Island, it allowed him to contribute as founder to the Mechanics Institute which eventually became the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The Ritter and Shumway descendants also contributed to the Noble Foundation Hospital Building in Alexandria Bay in later years.
The Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Area, known as “The Ritter” to locals, was built in 1968 when the school relocated to the suburbs. Ritter’s grandson, Frank Ritter Shumway, was a major figure in United States figure skating and later president of the Ritter Company and a generous benefactor of RIT who helped to ensure the new arena, like the old located downtown, continued to bear his grandfather’s name.
After purchasing the property that became Lindenhof in 1889 Frank Ritter set about building anew, though conflicting reports two days apart in the Watertown Daily Times makes it uncertain exactly what. The first, published July 18th, noted the property being of the prettiest spots on the mainland shore and–
comprising four acres, and will erect a spacious cottage. In fact, the building is already on course of construction, together with a new dock. A new boat-house will also be built and the point otherwise beautified.
The article in the same very newspaper a day later stated–
Frank Ritter, a well-known furniture dealer, of Rochester, has just completed a temporary cottage at Kepler’s Point, and with his family moved into the same today. They will spend the summer there.
Lindenhof did contain a guest house, so perhaps it was built first allowing Frank Ritter to have a place to occupy while the larger summer home was constructed. As there’s no definitive account written in the newspapers, at least upon first glance, one is left to speculate though the Watertown Re-Union printed in 1896, and perhaps erroneously, that a James Ritter “has his fine cottage on Lindenhoff Point nearly enclosed. A. F. Backman is the builder.”
This speculation was ultimately confirmed by the April 21, 1897 Watertown Re-Union which stated–
Mr. And Mrs. Frank Ritter, of Rochester, are the first cottagers to arrive on the river for a stay of any length. Mr. Ritter is the owner of beautiful point called Lindenhoff, located between Clayton and Alexandria Bay. During the Winter an elegant cottage of modern design has been built on the point by Contractor Bachman, of Alexandria Bay. The cottage is surmounted by a high tower, giving a fine view of the river and islands for miles.
This next bit of information is a bit confusing and may be incorrect as there are TWO records for Frank Ritter of Rochester on hand, one of which reportedly married Sophia Elizabeth Shuknecht of Rochester on August 27, 1907 which is indeed correct as this was his second wife. This was reported in the Watertown Daily Times and the Ritter in question was stated as having the a summer home in the Thousand Islands and a manufacturer of dental supplies.
One of these Frank Ritters passed away in 1915 and the other in 1928. Both listings have burials at Mount Hope Cemetery in Monroe County, New York. They very well could be one and the same with incorrect information, but correct photo, on the 1928 listing in findagrave.com. An obituary was located for 1915, when Frank Ritter died on April 15 at the age of 70. In poor health at the time, he was unable to have an appendectomy performed. Incidentally, his first wife, Elizabeth, died in 1897 of appendicitis.
At some point prior, the property became known as Linden Cove and referred to as the Ritter-Brown property after it had passed to his daughters according to an article published Nov. 21, 1947 in the Daily Times–
Mr. Ritter was associated with the Ritter Dental Supply company in Rochester. Upon his death, his daughters, Adeline and Laura, continued to occupy the home in the summers. Mrs. Laura Ritter Brown died in New York in 1945; shortly after that the Linden Cove property was sold to John Wallace, St. Louis, Mo., who is the present occupant of the home.
There was also prior mentioning of Frank Ritter Shumway receiving realty, furniture and furnishings of Linden Cove, plus $75,000, plus half of the principle in his mother’s (Laura Ritter Brown) life trust fund created for her under the will of her late father, absolutely.
John K. Wallace, who had at the time already owned Keewaydin, purchased Linden Cove in 1946. Wallace purchased the “Century House” summer home of William A. Hickey the following year. The property included three acres of land which was the connecting link between Linden Cove and Keewaydin, the former summer home of the late William T. Dewart.
The Wallace ownership proved to be a short one, the property purchased by Luther R. Hanna of Holyoke, Mass., in June of 1952. The Daily Times then reported of the sale–
Linden Cove will be occupied during the summer by Mr. Hanna’s son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Norman L. Hanna, and their two children, of South Hadley, Mass. The Norman Hannas have occupied Century House adjacent to the Linden Cove property, formerly the summer home of William Hickey, for the past four summers.
Hanna, who had business ties in St. Louis, passed away from a massive heart attack four years later in 1956 at the age of 74.
In 1960, Linden Cove was purchased by the Garlock Reality Corporation of Alexandria Bay. The property, then reportedly comprised of a large residence, guest house, boat house and several acres of landscaped land with water frontage of 1,000 feet, was assessed for $22,900 and plans were under way for building development. Though the mansion is long gone, some of the stonework still remains.