Wall Street Broker Charles I. Hudson Builds “The Ledges” at Anthony Point In 1885
In 1885, one of the lost gems of the Thousand Islands, The Ledges, was built on the mainland peninsula of Anthony Point and near the entrance to Carnegie Bay. Built by Charles I. Hudson of the brokerage firm C. I. Hudson & Co., the 35-room palatial summer residence would later be owned by one of the more prominent members of the Thousand Islands community in the early 1900s, Commodore James H. Hammond.
Charles I. Hudson was born in New York City in 1852, and, at the tender age of 14, left school and began a business career in Wall Street. By the age of 19, his earnings had grown from $4.00 a week working for S. M. Mills & Co. to $1,500 a year.
Hudson would quickly catch the attention of railroad magnate and financier Jay Gould. As written in New York State’s Prominent and Progressive Men, Volume II, pub. 1900—
The famous financier took an especial liking to him, and, as a token of his appreciation, Mr. Gould, in April, 1875, gave to Mills & Co., “for that active young man,” a package of nine hundred shares of Union Pacific Railway Stock. Within twenty days thereafter the sale of that stock netted Mr. Hudson about nineteen thousand dollars. This was the capital on which his fortune was founded. He at once purchased a seat in the Stock Exchange, and began a brokerage business on his own account.
That business, C. I. Hudson & Co., would begin in 1876 and would be one of the first brokerage firms to deal in the securities of large industrial corporations. That same year, he would marry Sarah E. Keirstede of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
In June of 1884, the Watertown Daily Times would report of Hudson’s purchasing land on the St. Lawrence River—
On Anthony’s Point, just below “Bonniecastle,” C. I. Hudson, of New York, has purchased from E. Anthony a large and sightly lot, on which he will erect the present season a cottage costing $5,000 or $6,000 (later said to have been $10,000 and even $75,000). Francis P. A. Allen, a Boston Architect, now at the Crossmon House, will draw the plans.
At some point after 1900, C. I. Hudson would dispose of the property to Max J. Breitenbach of New York City who had the misfortunate of having his name butchered mercilessly in the press having been misspelled six ways to Sunday. The Breitenbach family would make The Ledges their summer home for several years before renting it out.
The summer of 1916 would see W. T. Dewart, head of the Mohican chain of grocery stores, rent The Ledges from Breitenbach. Later that summer, Dewart would have associate and well-known publisher and owner of the grocery chain, Frank Munsey, as a guest. Dewart would eventually become owner/publisher of the New York Sun, the Mohican chain of stores and Keewaydin, just south of Alexandria Bay, which he would purchase a couple of years later.
Later that fall, The Ledges would become the subject of a lawsuit between owner Max J. Breitenbach and James H. Hammond, who founded Superior Steel in Carnegie, Pennsylvania at the age of 24. The Daily Times would report that Hammond initiated the lawsuit—
The complaint alleges that on Sept. 15 the defendant entered into a written agreement with the plaintiff to sell him the “Ledges” for $30,000, of which $1,000 was paid down, the balance to be paid when the deeds were delivered. The plaintiff further alleges that when he went on Sept. 29 to get the deeds and pay the balance of the money, that the defendant paid back the $1,000 and refused to transfer the property.
On Oct. 6 the plaintiff asserts that he offered to pay the $30,000 down and demanded the deeds, which were refused. The suit is now brought to compel the defendant to live up to his agreement. The following March, the Daily Times would print that the deal was apparently completed, and that Hammond had bought “The Ledges.” Meanwhile, the Breitenbach family would end up with a place for many years on Maple Island.
Hammond and his wife, Alice, would be very involved with social and civic affairs in the area throughout the years, entertaining many hundreds of people at The Ledges. In July of 1936, James H. Hammond would pass away at the age of 68. His obituary, printed in the Watertown Daily Times via U.P., would state in part—
The Hammond family has long been prominent in the island summer colony. He first came to the region in 1901 when he leased Dewey Island for three years. In 1914 (sic, 1916) he purchased “The Ledges,” one of the palatial summer homes along the river. It is on the mainland.
He served as commodore of the yacht club four years and refused re-election in 1924. He also served as president of the Thousand Islands Country Club.
The Hammonds occupied The Ledges until seven years ago. Since then, they have leased it and stayed at the country club during their summers.
The village of Alexandria Bay would order its flag to be flown at half mast until after the funeral of James H. Hammond. The net estate left behind would be worth $1,375,751 (or $26,860,391.82, and growing every second, in 2022 currency.)
The following year, Mr. Hammond’s son, James Sidney Hammond, would purchase the property at the executor’s sale and set about a $50,000 contract for the building of a new, 14-room, single-story summer home on the spot featuring native stone and timber in a rustic style. Unfortunately, The Ledges would be razed that fall to make way for construction.
James Sidney Hammond, much like his father, would be quite involved with the community. A 1915 graduate of Princeton, he would join Superior Steel in 1919 and retire as Vice President in 1929. For a few years in the 1940s, he would be acting administrator of Shadyside Hospital in Pennsylvania where he was a trustee for years. Later, he would become a member of the original board of trustees at the Edward John Noble Hospital in Alexandria Bay to which he and his wife made a $5,000 gift for its building fund campaign.
At the time of James Sidney Hammond’s death in 1971, he had long ago moved to Pine Tree Point and in 1962 sold property to Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas J. Schaefer. The Schaefers would open The Ledges Hotel and Marina the following year. The history is a little confusing from here as I’m not certain if the hotel and marina were built on the same location. The hotel was to have closed in 2013 and be demolished the following year, but The Ledges Resort and Marina exist today and are owned and operated by the Schaefer’s grandson and wife, Nick & Amy Schaefer.