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Historical Highlights

Methodist Farm

A dream of Mr. J. Wesley Wood was the vision of acquiring property to further religious, educational and recreational purposes among the Methodists in the area. In 1917, the Methodist Sunday School Association of Troy and Vicinity was formed by 13 Methodist Sunday Schools in Troy, Watervliet, Green Island, Cohoes and Waterford. The property acquired was the apple orchard and sheep farm with Crooked Lake frontage from Stiles Hardware of Cohoes. Mr. Wood was manager of the farm for 30 years and, at the time of his death in 1952, was a trustee.

The older summer residents at the Farm, who often refer to themselves as “Farmers,” recall that camping was begun in tents. Then there were camps with erected sides and canvas tops. Gradually more sturdy camps were built, small trailers were introduced, and there were no more tents. Currently there is a central pole with electricity, which each camp can tap into. Water is brought to each lot, and drinking water is available from the faucets that come from one well. Additional water is pumped from the lake for utility purposes. Outhouses have now been replaced by Port-a-johns near the camps and at the beach.

Lois Bishop at Methodist FarmThe sandy beach has a beach house, a raft in the deeper water and a toddler area close to shore. No dogs are allowed. In 2001, trees were cut to give more sunshine to the beach, and replacement trees will be planted. Over the years, the climb up the hill from the beach has remained a challenge. There are also baseball, basketball and playground areas.

Persons using the campsites renew their “license to occupy” annually. The board of Directors has a representative of each member church Sunday School: Broadway United Methodist Church (UMC), Rensselaer; Calvary UMC, Latham; Christ Church, UM, Troy; Church of the Covenant UM, Averill Park; Church of the Good Shepherd UM, Green Island; First UMC, Rensselaer; Hope UMC, Troy; Lansingburgh UMC, Troy; North Chatham UMC, North Chatham; Pawling Avenue UMC, Troy; Salem UMC, West Sand Lake; Waterford UMC, Waterford; Watervliet UMC, Watervliet. The annual meeting, held the third Tuesday of April, is rotated among the member churches.

Volunteers are called to active duty on “Farm Day” to do the work of clearing the roadways, beach and grounds, cleaning the two pavilions, repairing the picnic tables and other general maintenance. All will be in readiness for the season, which extends from the last week in June to Labor Day. Member Sunday Schools can use the facilities free of charge. There is a group rate for use of the pavilion(s) and the bargain of $5.00 per carload for others. Since its inception, Methodist Farm has maintained its policy of no alcoholic beverages on the premises.

Each Sunday evening the bell rings at 6:45 p.m., summoning persons to the 7:00 p.m. Vesper Service conducted by area clergy. The picture of Lois Bishop seated at the piano shows her at the post she served for many years. She and her late husband, Paul, called Methodist Farm home during the summers since the mid 1940s.

C. Malden Wells at the 'Barn Sale' at Methodist FarmOur other picture is of C. Malden Wells, who greeted customers and passers-by at the “Barn Sale” from its inception until 2000. A July 1996 Advertiser article gives the hours as 9-5 seven days a week.And youth who worked at the Farm as gate tenders, lifeguards and grounds crew have decorated the barn walls with “good graffiti” — their names and dates of service. The Advertiser article also mentioned a junked trolley car (circa 1936), which Clyde Poole drove to the Farm to use as a camp. Although additions have been built on either side, the front of the car can still be identified.

Mr. Wells shared a favorite Farm story in his August 24, 2001, article in the Advertiser. The dog that belonged to the Mosher family on Trail’s End Road chose Methodist Farm as his summer home. Mr. Wells states, “The Moshers would stop by to take ‘Pup’ home. In no time at all it was back at its adopted home. The dog was more religious that some campers. Pup just had to be in center aisle in the chapel. To heck with ushers going up with the offering.”

In 1990, a tragedy occurred at Methodist Farm when the body of Mrs. Ruth MacNary, who was murdered by the foster daughter of another camper, was found. There is now a memorial garden by the chapel in her memory.

Methodist Farm has been summer home to persons from as far away as Florida and Pennsylvania and as close as Averill Park. The Times Union called it the “best kept secret in Rensselaer County.” Let’s change that!

The above was written by Mary French.© 2002, from Historical Highlights, Volume 28, Number 3, Winter 2002

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4/29/17; last revised September 5, 2019 -- asm © 2020 Sand Lake Historical Society; all rights reserved.