Deer Island is located just North of Alexandria
Bay, New York. It is a fifty acre island containing
diverse topography and a varied shoreline. The
southern perimeter of Deer Island faces the American
shipping channel while the northern perimeter
faces the Canadian channel. It has several protected
coves and a small bay and is currently mostly
forested with White Pine, Black Oak, Hemlock,
and Sugar Maple.
Deer Island was one of the first islands in what
has become known as The Thousand Islands region
to have been sold as a summer retreat. In September
of 1856, Deer Island and a smaller 7 acre island
nearest to it on the northeastern edge was sold
to a Mr. Samuel Miller for a sum of $175.
Through the turn of the century, this region
became a favored summer retreat for the American
elite as many wealthy families purchased islands
and constructed ever more elaborate and decorative
cottages. Most of these homes were featured in
tourist books of the time since the many hotels
also attracted the less affluent vacationers and
the homes of the millionaires were no less of
interest to the tourist in 1800 than they are
today. Yet, photographs of the Deer Island structures
are not as easy to locate despite the fact that
the Island and its accouterments were apparently
no less elaborate and interesting as the many
of the other cottages.
At some date prior to 1949, Samuel Miller's son,
George Douglas Miller, gave a building on the
island to the Yale University's Skull and Bones
Society. This building was known as "The
Outlook" and was built largely of stone with
a wooden upper structure. It was reported to contain
fifteen rooms and housed a valuable collection
of antiques and books. The building and it's contents
were destroyed by fire in 1949.
The Skull and Bones Society currently appears
to own the entire island however, of the original
larger cottages on the island, only one clearly
remains. There are at least three obvious ruins
on the island. The NewRuins Deer Island Project
seeks to determine the history of these ruins
and the factors that led to their demise.
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