The Crossmon House Of Alexandria Bay: Sometimes Bigger Is Better
First built as a fisherman’s tavern in 1848 by Charles and Esther Crossmon, The Crossmon House of Alexandria Bay, N.Y., would enjoy one of the longest tenures amongst the hotels of the Thousand Islands, regardless of era, lasting for 114 years.
The Crossmon House’s longevity made it a prominent and important fixture for tourism in the region, a remarkable feat considering many of the large hotels built in the Gilded Age from about 1870-1900s had relatively short lifespans, most succumbing to fires while others, like the neighboring Thousand Island House, fell victim to the Great Depression.
Initially conceived as a fisherman’s tavern, the house was still a fairly large place for travelers to the St. Lawrence River seeking a fish in its waters. As early as 1860, Charles Crossmon had attempted to sell the tavern, advertising in newspapers both near and far, but despite the popularity of the place, there apparently were no takers.
On March 21, 1872, Crossman let it be known in the Watertown Re-Union that–
We have been shown a plan for rebuilding the Crossmon House at Alexandria Bay, which, if adopted, will be a magnificent structure, five stories in front and three on the river side. It will compare well with the best houses of Saratoga, Newport or Long Beach.
The following year, The Re-Union would print favorably of the plan’s fruition–
New Crossmon House
On the first day of Sept. 1872, Charles Crossmon & Son commenced to build the immense addition, to what has long been known to the traveler visiting Alexandria Bay, as the Crossmon House. Messrs. Crossmon & Son have been engaged in the hotel business in this same place for at least a quarter of a century, and during that time have entertained thousands of business men and pleasure seekers from all parts of the United States and Canada, giving to his guests almost universal satisfaction, so much so in fact that many families have made it a practice for years, to come and spend the warm weather at the Crossmon’s.
Knowledge of the beautiful scenery of the Thousand Islands, the healthy and exciting sport of trolling for the muscalonge, pickerel, bass and many other species of fish from year to year, increased until last year it was found impossible to accommodate one-half of the applications for summer board, even after calling into use all the available rooms in private houses. To remedy this unpleasantness the gentlemanly proprietors of the Crossmon House decided to immediately commence the very extensive and handsome addition which we will proceed to describe, in as correct a manner as possible, from the facts at hand. (Click the link for the remainder of the article.)
The original structure of the hotel had approximately 40 sleeping rooms. With the addition, the new Crossmon House could accommodate three hundred guests comfortably.
Although it may seem as though the Crossmon House’s expansion may have been a result of the press generated from President Grant’s vacation to George Pullman’s Island, the initial plans preceded Grant’s visit by several months though it and the newly erected Thousand Island House benefited greatly from the spotlight put on the 1000 Islands at the time.
In 1923, William E. McDonnell and Captain C. S. Thomson purchased the hotel and property. Together, they would manage the property for many years. Incorporating the property in their first year, a filing with the County Clerk’s office would show a capitalization of $60,000 divided into 600 shares of stock with a value of $100 each.
The Crossmon House would eventually be torn down in 1962 after 114 long years at its location. At the time, it was one of the best-known resorts in the area. As of 2021, the location it was on, Crossmon Point, is partially occupied by Capt. Thomson’s Resort was built in 1964.