History - Scott's Oquage Lake House

James H. Scott and Elvira J. Wilder, married in 1845, left their home in Brattleboro, Vermont and moved by ox cart to Jackson, Pennsylvania. In 1869, Mr. Scott purchased a farmhouse and 98 acres of farmland on Sand Pond (later to be called Oquaga Lake) in Deposit, NY. The two moved in and within a year began boarding visitors at the Oquaga Lake Farm House. Lakefront property was purchased in 1873 and a resort theme was born. By then, the main farmhouse was able to accommodate around 50 guests who were each charged an average of $8.00 per week for room and board, and 25 cents for transportation to and from the Deposit Erie Railroad Line via horse and carriage.

The late 1870s through the turn of the century saw real progress on Oquaga. Mr. Scott and his son Elwin had established the Lake House as both summer resort and center for commerce, where local residents could go for their mail, fresh milk from the dairy, ice and supplies from the general store. Several new additions were developed and fitted with running water and electricity. The Casino (today known as the Playhouse) offered bowling alleys, a state-of-the-art soda fountain and a modest hardwood dance floor, and it quickly became one of the highlights on the lake. Jonas Rivenburgh’s neighboring farm was purchased in the late 1890s, establishing the outer limits of what is now considered the main grounds. Three more resorts soon joined Scott’s and the lake was quickly transformed into a booming vacation area. In 1908 Elwin’s son, Raymond James Sr., purchased the property from his father and later changed the name to Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in order to better represent the new image.

On Christmas Eve in 1921 the 200-room farmhouse, post office and general store all caught fire and were quickly engulfed in flames. Mr. Scott and his wife were out of town with his parents but upon their return found that the farmhouse had been completely destroyed. Although the loss was a devastating blow, Raymond Sr. remained undaunted and vowed to rebuild a new lake house in its place, eventually welcoming guests to his new lodge in the spring of 1922. The grand re-opening was soon followed by an era of prosperity as motion picture shows, new construction and several more real estate transactions all occurred over the next few years. The resort struggled with food and gasoline rationing and help shortages throughout World War II, but Raymond Sr. continued to open his resort each season despite the difficulties. In 1947, the Scotts celebrated the marriage of Raymond James Jr. to Doris Edwards.

During the early 1950s, Ray, Doris and their three daughters Patty, Peggy and Nancy began developing new business strategies for the coming years and making their own contributions to the resort. By 1958, the reins to the hotel had been handed over to Ray and Doris, who went on to establish a challenging yet fulfilling career together. They hosted the American Gymnastics Camp from the late 1960s through the early 70s, accommodating hundreds of young hopefuls and adding several new constructions along the way. It was also during this time that the family grew again with the births of Linda and Jimmy and the marriages of daughters Patty and Peggy, who both continued to work at the resort with their husbands. Early renditions of the “Scott Family Revue” were soon part of the regular entertainment schedule. The defining moment, however, was yet to come as 13 members, including grandchildren, would eventually take to the stage as family entertainers. This element, combined with the rapid prosperity of the 1980s and early 90s, established Scott’s as one of the top summer vacation spots in New York State.

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