Printed with permission from the Oct. 2008 edition of Adirondack Life. This piece is part of the Johnsburg Historical Society exhibit at TPCC - "As Time Goes By" - opening on Aug. 29.
"A jolly good time awaits you at Maxam's," promised a 1930s-era brochure with photos of a comfortable resort on Garnet Lake.
For some 60 years, until it burned in a spectacular 1968 fire, Maxam's attracted a loyal clientele, drawn by the excellent food, beautiful setting and reasonable rates. Its owners for much of this time were Floyd and Bernice Maxam with the help of her son Jack and daughter Dorothy Maxam Mosher.
Today, both Maxam children have summer homes along the lake, where there are still a few traces of the Maxam lodge complex.
The history of Maxam's dates to around 1900, when Floyd's father, Frank Maxam, began shopping for real estate. Garnet Lake, then known as Mill Creek Pond, was a thoroughfare for logs shooting down from Lizard Pond to the Hudson River. Frank had worked as a logger, and in one camp he had met a cook, Alma Suprenant.
Alma and Frank married, and as their family grew to six children, they searched for a place to settle. Around 1905, Frank found 89 acres on Mill Creek Pond, where the pair opened a rustic hotel. Meanwhile, someone - perhaps Alma Maxam or postmistress Eda Russell - rechristened Mill Creek Pond as "Garnet Lake."
In 1923, a young schoolteacher from Staten Island, Bernice Journeay, came to vacation in the Adirondacks with friends. At a dance at Maxam's, Bernice met 25-year-old Floyd, the oldest son of Frank and Alma, who was instantly smitten. When the dance was over, he walked her back to her boardinghouse, stood on the porch and kissed her.
"Or maybe she kissed him, but anyway he fell backward into the rose bushes," said Dorothy Mosher.