Warrensburg Lake George NY History Merrill Magee Inn
In 1981, Ken and Florence Carrington purchased the remainder of Grace Merrill Magee’s estate (house, pool & gardens) and converted what had always been a private home into a traditional country inn.
Grace was the longest resident of the house and the last of her distinguished line. She lived to be 91 and like her mother she was devoted to maintaining the house and grounds as her grandfather Stephen Griffin II had left them.
Stephen Griffin II (1812 – 1893) was a prominent lumberman and owned extensive mill properties and timber lands. In 1880 he built a tannery in Hamilton County near the town of Wells. A town grew up around the mill – now a ghost town – it was named Griffin. There is a book called “Griffin Ghost Town of the Adirondacks” by O. Girard who tells what it was like to grow up there.
In 1875 he was a member of the state legislature and twice held office of town supervisor. “During his active life he did as much for Warrensburgh as any man who ever lived there, giving employment to many and never turning away an appeal.”
Stephen Griffin II was named for his grandfather Stephen Griffin I. Stephen Griffin I was born Jan 22, 1754 and died March 1, 1841. As a young man he served in the Army of the Revolution with the rank of Ensign. In the winter of 1780 he was stationed at Valley Forge. What must have been a welcome change came on May 29th when his brigade was ordered to proceed to Albany. They were then ordered to march to West Point at once. There in September, Stephen was an actor in one of the most dramatic episodes of the Revolution, the treason of Benedict Arnold and the capture and execution of Major Andre. His part was to guard Joshua Smith, the man who made possible the secret meeting between Arnold and Andre. The following excerpt from Stephen’s journal is an exact copy and the language and spelling are his…
Munday Camp Orange town Septr 25 1780
this evening the whole of the armey was under arms about 12 oClock at Night and Everything in Readeness to March at a Moments Warning Genl Wain (Wayne) Marched with his Brigade and all the Pennsylvania troops and we was informed that Genl Arnold had sold West Point and all the Stores and that our People had taken the Adit Gen’l (Andre) of the British armey as a spie and Gen’l Arnold hearing of the Maid his escape to New York as he had sold the fort for three Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling…
Munday Camp Octr 2 1780 Orange town this day at 12 o’clock the Adj’t Gen’l was hanged there was two battalions attended his Execution as well as a great Number of Spectators…
Stephen Griffin I’s journal was recovered and restored by Mary Griffin Merrill (Grace’s Mother). She donated the original document to the Col. Strong Museum in Vergennes, VT.
Because the history of this house and its occupants is so much a part of the history of our country and the town we have made every effort to maintain the house, as it had been in the past, for your enjoyment. We take great pride in having the house on the National Register of Historic Places.
As you look around you can see how the house grew as the family grew and prospered. When Stephen Griffin II purchased the property in 1839 there was a small existing house. The portion is now the tavern and lounge, later in the 1850’s he added the Greek Revival front and still later in the 1920’s Grace added the back section where we have a large dining room. That is the oldest part of the house dating to 1812 but was brought here from an earlier homestead several miles away. It was used as a summer kitchen and wood shed till we converted it for dining. Grace was also responsible for adding the swimming pool in 1928. This pool is reported to be the oldest private pool in New York.
In the spring of 2006, a partnership of two families were formed and purchased the Merrill Magee House from Pam Carrington Converse. Brothers – John Brown and Chris Brown, teamed with brother & sister – Stuart Smith & Connie Smith Maxam and had transformed the tavern, parlor and reception area’s into a large tavern and lounge.
The Merrill Magee House was purchased in foreclosure in 2014 by husband and wife Michael and Donna Flanagan along with Michael’s brother Richard Flanagan and his wife Leslie from New Jersey. Michael and Donna found the property they were searching for in the Adirondacks and moved to Warrensburg in 2004 after an unexpected stay at the Merrill Magee. As it turns out, their property was once part of the former Merrill Magee Estate.
Michael and Donna hosted several large annual family parties in Warrensburg in which they filled all the rooms of the guesthouse, not to mention rooms in other local inns and motels. They were saddened to see the property abandoned and in such disrepair but they also saw an opportunity to purchase a beautiful historic piece of property in the center of town which served for nearly forty years as fine restaurant and guesthouse with a stellar reputation.
Richard was up visiting when Michael unexpectedly found the Merrill Magee for sale while looking for a summer home for Donna’s sister Christine. They jokingly talked about a partnership and buying the property as an investment. Before Richard left for home, they made an offer that was quickly accepted by the bank. The new owners started diligently assessing the property in October but did not take possession until February of 2014. They were ready with plans to move full steam ahead with repairs and renovations starting in March. After an enormous amount of work, the guesthouse officially opened starting with the July fourth holiday of 2014. Construction of the new kitchen, restaurant and tavern began in July and they are looking forward to a summer of 2015 opening.