The Anthony Lake House History

In 1936, Kenneth Gillis (K.G.) Anthony rented a cottage near the Rainbow Cove motel on Seneca Lake for one month in the summer. K.G.’s wife, Maud and their three children (Benton, George, and Margaret) spent the entire month at the cottage and K.G. commuted each weekend from his home in Brighton, a suburb of Rochester. In the evenings, K.G. would take walks down the lake road. During one of these walks he met Andy Rice. Andy had recently purchased some farmland just north of the Showboat motel which included a tract of land about 1/2 mile north of the main tract. Andy felt the two pieces of land were too far apart to farm both, so he offered to sell the smaller northern piece to K.G. That piece of land included about 800’ of lake frontage and was purchased with an IOU for $1000. The following year K.G. sold a small piece of the land to Adrian Clark perhaps to provide money for the building of a small cottage or to help repay Andy Rice. The first construction undertaken by the Anthony family was a small cottage right on the water with one room and a loft. Later, a bedroom and a porch were added to this cottage. A picture of it can be seen in the master bedroom.

Shortly after the first cottage was completed, construction began on the big house. While K.G. was a hard worker, he was not skilled as a carpenter or a stone mason. He was, however, a very clever man. Many of the people he dealt with in his sand and gravel business were skilled craftsmen, and K.G. would barter for the services of these craftsmen with deliveries of sand and gravel from his trucking business. This was the depression and money was hard to come by, particularly for recent immigrants.

The house was built by a large number of hardworking and talented men. Frank Signarelli was a cabinet maker from Italy who did most of the trim work and who framed the garage. The dining room table was made from leftover oak flooring material, and the benches for the dining room table were made by K.G.’s brother, Henry. Art Chapin, a teacher at Brighton High School, built the bar and the mantle over the fireplace in the master bedroom. He made one visit to the cottage to take measurements, and later returned with the completed work which fit exactly without any alteration. The electric work was done by Pat Penla and his crew from Phelps Electric.

The two most important factors which enabled K.G. to build this magnificent home during the depression were his skill in bartering for services and Maud’s skill as a cook. Every Sunday in the summer, the crew would come down to work on the cottage. At noon, Maud would serve a rolled rib roast with mashed potatoes and gravy. One has to wonder if these men would continue to work so hard every Sunday if not for this wonderful meal. During these Sunday dinners, a rule was established for the benefit of Frank Signarelli which is still in place today. Apparently, Frank would never ask for food to be passed to him. He would stare at what he wanted. If nobody noticed and it was not passed to him, he would leap from his seat and grab it. So Maud instituted a rule that the men could reach for whatever they wished as long as they kept one foot on the floor.

The construction of the lake house was K.G.’s hobby. He was always on the lookout for a deal on materials that could be used in the construction. Consequently, there are stories behind many of those materials. The beams in the living room ceiling came from a restaurant being torn down in  Fisher, NY. K.G. struck a deal of $15 delivered. The glass used in the dining room windows was cut from the windshields of old Model T Fords. In fact, if you look closely, you can still see the wiper blade marks. The fireplace mantle is Medina bluestone from Medina, NY. The flagstone on the front porch came from Liberty, NY. They used what they needed and sold the rest at a profit. The living room walls are made of Idaho knotty pine, which K.G. purchased wholesale of course. Cypress wormwood was used for the walls of the bar.

The onset of World War II found the big house nearly complete. Everything was finished except for a few final touches in the bedroom wing. The war nearly put a stop to the construction business which included K.G.’s sand & gravel business. K.G. took a job with Stromberg Carlson to pay the bills. One summer weekend K.G. brought his co-workers down to the lake to entertain them. The house so impressed his superiors, they promoted him to a supervisor.

K.G. and his family enjoyed the use of the cottage in the late 40’s and 50’s, but in the 60’s K.G. visited the cottage less and less until his death in 1967. In the early 60’s his sons, Ben and George, purchased the Brooks’ property (an additional ~200’ of lake frontage with a small cottage) located just north of the Anthony property. They used the proceeds from the sale of the Towpath motel which they had built and operated for a time in the town of Brighton.

In the 60’s and early 70’s the cottage was shared by George & Ben and their children. A schedule was made every summer alternating two weeks at a time. One brother would take care of the funeral business in town and the other brother would spend time at the lake with his family.

In 1966, Don Kimball, who is married to the sister of Ben’s wife Marion, bought Adrian Clark’s property. Kimball’s property had very little lake frontage and Don often approached Ben and George to sell him more. Ben finally approached George with a proposal to sell the land to Kimball and to divide their joint property, knowing that down the road it would be too difficult for their seven children to share it. Ben proposed that they sell to Kimball and that George would either take the Brooks’ property plus the proceeds of the sale, or that George would keep the big house and Ben would take the Brooks’ property and the money. George elected to keep the big house, but rather than sell the 50’ to Kimball, he took out a mortgage for the proposed sale price and kept the property.

Ben took the money and following in his father’s tradition, he built a cottage for his family on weekends during the summer. Unlike his father, Ben did nearly all the work himself.

In July of 1979, George was paralyzed from the waist down in a fall while trimming one of the oak trees in the front yard of the big house. In order to pay for a first floor bedroom and bath addition to his house in Brighton, George finally sold Don Kimball the 50’ of lake frontage he had wanted to buy for years.

Throughout the 80’s, the lake house continued to be used by family, George had several golf carts that he used to move around the property, and he also bought a pontoon boat that he could easily take out on the lake. In 1988, the little cottage was renovated to include a handicapped shower, to improve access to the kitchen, and to include decks along the outside. During that renovation, a standup heating unit was replaced with a floor unit from the big house.

In the fall of 1991, the little cottage burned to the ground when the floor heating unit caught a rug on fire when no one was there. Since the cottage was inadequately insured, the insurance only covered the cost of the 1988 renovation, and was not enough to rebuild.

The little cottage had been rented out throughout most of the 60’s and 70’s, but it was not rented for most of the 80’s. In 1990, George began renting out both cottages to help cover the tax burden on the properties. Also in 1990, 150’ of lake frontage was sold to the Schwert family. George used the proceeds of this sale to replace the roof on the big house and to finance construction of a new handicapped accessible house in Rochester that he and his wife, Faith would live in.

In August of 1992, George died suddenly of a heart attack. At the time he died, he was thoroughly enjoying the project of building his dream house with an elevator, a full basement, and a garage big enough for his RV and two golf carts. George left the lake property to his two younger sons, Craig and Brian. They have continued to rent out the lake house to finance its upkeep and keep it in the family.

The Anthony family hopes that you enjoy your stay at this special place. We ask that you treat the house with care, and respect the special relationship between this house and the last three generations of our family.


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