J. B. Taylor Summer Home Turned Into Pine Tree Point Club By Thomson Family
The Pine Tree Point Club made its debut in 1954 after A. Graham Thomson and his wife, Therese Theoret Thomson, purchased the original palatial stone mansion overlooking the St. Lawrence River at Alexandria Bay from Dr. and Mrs. (Sallie Taylor Robinson) Walter G. Robinson. The Robinsons, former residents of the village, had familial connections to the mansion’s original owner while Thomson, alongside his father, Captain C. S. Thomson, who owned the property years ago, co-owned and operated the nearby Crossmon Hotel.
Captain Thomson first owned the land nearly 45 years earlier when he purchased it in 1915. He owned it for two years before selling it to J. B. Taylor of New York City and Watertown, who, in 1921, tried unsuccessfully to obtain the unfinished Boldt Castle on Heart Island for use as a Summer White House for the President. Edward J. Noble, president of the Mint Products Company known for the Lifesaver candy, and Clover Boldt‘s husband, A. Graham Miles, purchased all of the Boldt Estate located in the Thousand Islands in June of 1922.
Taylor, no stranger to extravagant homes, was divorced from Emma Flower Taylor and shared the palatial brownstone mansion in Watertown that was built for them in the 1890s by Governor Roswell P. Flower. After the divorce in 1910, Taylor would purchase the likes of the Van Brunt mansion on Washington Street, later known as the White House Inn, as well as the Sterling Mansion at Sterling Place and re-developed downtown’s “the New” Hotel Woodruff.
It was J. B. Taylor who had the original structure to be used for Pine Tree Point Club, built in 1923. The 25-room mansion included a large living room with oak-beamed ceiling and huge fireplace; a side piazza running the length of the structure at approximately 135 feet which faced the river with two veranda floors of red Italian tiling; a music room, a dining room with a spacious fireplace, a large library; eleven large bedrooms on the 2nd floor, each with private baths, some with fireplaces and others with sun-porch decks.
Dr. Robinson and his wife, Mrs. Sallie Taylor Robinson, granddaughter to J. B. Taylor, would purchase the mansion from Mark S. Wilder’s estate, who had purchased it from Taylor’s 2nd wife, Edith Taylor Greenwood, then remarried in 1929 to Richard Fairchild Greenwood, two years after Taylor’s death in 1927. The summer home’s estimated value at that time was $250,000 (the equivalent of $4.2 million in 2022.)
Upon purchasing it in 1954, A. Graham Thomson would tell the Watertown Daily Times of his plans—
Mr. Thomson said this morning that he and his father plan to open Pine Tree Point Club on May 1 and will continue to operate it until Nov. 1. The large villa is equipped with heating facilities so it could be kept open the year round, if desired.
New furnishing, drapes and carpets are being installed. Mr. Thomson said under the new setup there will be a main lounge, which was formerly the living room, on the first floor, together with a foyer, dining room and cocktail lounge. The four rooms all have fireplaces.
There will be a porch dining room overlooking the main dining room. Two large terraces with natural slate floors are situated on the grounds directly in front of the main lounge. The terraces will be used for buffet suppers and cocktail parties. The tennis court is also located adjacent to the main building. there is also ample dock facilities for large cruisers. Mr. Thomson said the club would accommodate about 35 overnight guests.
The Pine Tree Point Club, as it would be officially named, would open May 1, 1954 and see a number of convention and group bookings. The following year would see bookings “for this time of season better than they have been for years,” according to A. Graham Thomson.
1957 would see a number of improvements made since the end of the previous season, including a new 18-hole putting green; the main building kitchen enlarged and modernized; a modern, chalet-styled building added; a new bungalow with three studio bedrooms as well as improvements to the grounds and landscaping.
Pine Tree Point Club Destroyed By Fire
Early Monday morning, February 1st, 1960, the Pine Tree Point Club main building was destroyed in a $250,000 fire. The Thomsons outlined a plan to rebuild the deluxe resort and have it back open, at least on a limited scale, by the following summer. The Ledges, built in 1959 and not to be confused with The Ledges home on Anthony Point, Chalet, and other buildings, were undamaged by the fire. Incidentally, 1960 would also be the year that the Thomsons decided to raze the 112-year-old Crossmon Hotel and replace it with a modern, yet smaller, motel (though its actual demolition wouldn’t happen until 1962.) With regards to the Pine Tree Point Club, as reported in the Watertown Daily Times—
Workmen are cleaning out the debris inside the four granite walls of the ruined club building. The heat-blasted stone work will be salvaged with a view towards using it as a facing for the new construction so that as much as possible of the original appearance of the building can be retained.
The two outside terraces, one constructed last fall, will be used for outdoor dining space during this coming summer. Mr. Thomson pointed out. He indicated that renovation of the main building would continue at the close of the 1960 summer season.
June 1st, 1961, would see the opening of the rebuilt club with many new amenities, including dining, game, living, and party facilities. The seaway sun porch, Kiltie cocktail lounge with a piano bar, LaBoutique gift shop, lobby, and administrative offices would be added as well.
The living room outfitted with antiques and Victorian furniture from the still-to-be-razed Crossmon House, would be given its name as the Crossmon room. The Voyageur room was given for the main dining room with over 3,200 sq. ft. of floor space and its dining room was open to the public for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When the weather suited, the two main terraces overlooking the river would also be open for luncheons.
Business throughout the 1960s would remain brisk, with each season seemingly topping the previous, with events stretching into mid-October. Unfortunately, Pine Tree Point Club would see the loss of Captain C. S. Thomson in 1967 at the age of 91, followed by his son’s passing two years later in 1969 at the age of 50. A. Graham’s widow, Therese, would become sole owner of the Pine Tree Point Club and operate it with son Richard S. Thomson managing it in 1979.
In 1996, Richard and his wife Melissa purchased the property from their mother and continued to operate it. In 2013, Richard and Melissa decided to put Pine Tree Point Resort up for auction. Looking toward retirement, Richard believed an auction might generate a wider audience for prospective buyers and admittedly stated Pine Tree Resort, as it had become known in later years, needed to be fully renovated – an effort that most likely would be a multi-million dollar investment.
After 65 years in the same family, the Pine Tree Resort would finally sell in 2019 to the owners of the Edgewood Resort, Janine and Benjamin Ridley, who had 13 years of experience running that particular venture. Without specific plans, there’s been no further news since, with the pandemic perhaps contributing to delays.