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Schuyler Co., NY
Lawrence Homestead / Fontainbleau Inn
Lawrence Chapel overlooking Cayuta Lake
History of Lawrence Chapel
From a newspaper article by Arthur H. Richards...date unknown
"One of the most picturesque churches in the Souther Tier is
the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, overlooking Kayutah (Cayuta) Lake,
located on the Odessa-Ithaca concrete highway. The chapel was
erected in 1880 and today is seldom used except for an occasional
marriage cemermony. The chapel receives its name from a pioneer
Schuyler County family. The history of this family makes an
interesting perspective. Mrs. Clark COOLEY of Kayutah Lake, who
with her late husband were caretakers of the Lawrence Estate, relate
an interesting history of the family. The pioneer of the
Lawrence family was Major Jonathan LAWRENCE who was born at Newtown,
Long Island, on Oct. 4, 1737. He was, at an early age,
interested in the Colonies and their struggle for life, liberty and
happiness. In 1775 and 1776 he was a member of the Provincial
Congress meeting in New York. In 1775 he was made major of a
brigade under Gen. Nathaniel WOODHULL and served throughout the
Soon after the close of the Revolutionary War many of the men who were still fortunate enought to have money to invest became interested in lands lying to the west. Major Lawrence purchased a tract of six miles square surrounding Cayuta Lake, this property being what was known as a part of the Watkins and Flint purchase. Three of his sons, Samuel, Joseph and William, subsequently removed to Kayutah Lake, erecting three houses which still stand. Samuel built the one known for many years as the Lawrence Homestead, William built his home across the lake on the east side, naming it Lawrence Villa, now known as White Gates. [Note: another source says Judge William Lawrence was the owner of Lawrence Villa / White Gates.]
Samuel Lawrence, who resided at the Lawrence Homestead, was the oldest son of Major Jonathan Lawrence. He married Elizabeth IRELAND. They have 11 children, five of whom were born at the lake. He and his wife moved to Kayutah Lake in 1814. He had served as Member of the Assembly from New York and was chosen to be Member of Assembly soon after settling at Kayutah Lake. In 1816 he was presidential elector and in 1830 a Representative in Congress. Abraham Lawrence, youngest son of Samuel and Elizabeth Lawrence, suggested the erection of the Lawrence Memorial Chapel as a mortuary chapel and to preserve the cemetery where are buried his parents and other members of their family. For this purpose he bequeathed by will a sum of money to which others of the family added. These plans were carried out by the youngest daughter of Samuel Lawrence and sister of Abraham Lawrence, Mrs. Jane G. Lawrence CAMPBELL, and the building was erected in 1880.
Many people now living in the vicinity of Odessa and Catharine were communicated at the church. It was used _____ service for many ___ Episcopal services _______ Francis E. Rice (rector of) the Church at Catharine ______" (section of article cut off here) "......a few weddings and a few funerals, and a very small number of summer services have been conducted since the resignation of the Rev. Rice. 'The record would not be complete', said Mrs. COOLEY, 'without mentioning the efforts of the dear and greatly revered Father James H. HERENDEEN of Geneva while he was rector of the Church at Catharine. He spent many wearisome hours on Sunday afternoons hoping to have some faithful members return for a service.'
The late Mrs. Henrietta L. BUTLER, a granddaughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Lawrence, had care of and was responsible for the Lawrence Chapel for many years. Many older residents will remember the familiar sight of her famous coach horses and carriages as they traveled the highways from Kayutah Lake to Odessa. For about 30 years the chapel was tenderly and reverently cared for by Edward N. COOLEY who was employed by Mrs. Butler until her death in 1926. Mr. Cooley continued the care of the chapel until his death in 1933. Mrs. Butler died leaving no blood descendants. She, however, planned on having the chapel cared for from the fund left for that purpose, and entrusted its care to Mrs. Adelaide WILLETT, whom she adopted as a daughter. Mrs. Willett resides in New Hampshire and has entrusted the care of the chapel to a local attorney."
More on the History of Lawrence Homestead / Fontainbleau Inn
The "History of Catharine" book by Louise Catlin Cleaver Roloson (published 1945) has additional info about the Lawrence Homestead, which is now known as "Fontainbleau Inn"..
"The Fontainbleau Inn used to be the Lawrence Homestead.
Cayuta Lake and the land for miles around was assigned to Jonathan
Lawrence, one of the members of the Watkins & Flint Purchase,
his sons taking over after the father's death and selecting the
portions for their own, Samuel and Joseph on the west and Judge
William Lawrence on the east. In 1813, Joseph and Samuel
Lawrence came from NY City, selected the sites for their houses and
contracted with David BEARDSLEY and Elijah HINMAN to erect them, and
they were to be finished the following year, when they would bring
their families from NY City. The brick in these houses came
from the clay on the Hinman property.... Samuel Lawrence
moved his family to his new home in the spring of 1815.
This house was built in a wide and spacious lawn with beautiful
trees, and was much more imposing and palatial than that of Joseph.
It has a sloping open lawn on the lake side, thus commanding a fine
view of the lake. A drive from the highway, quite a distance
from the house, curves around to the colonial entrance, with square
pillars on two porches. Samuel Lawrence had 10 children, nine
of whom are buried in the cemetery attached to the beautiful
"Lawrence Chapel" on the grounds nearby, which was erected
by his daughter, Jane Lawrence (Mrs. A.C. CAMPBELL), in 1880, as a
memorial to her family. Abraham Lawrence and
his sister, Mrs. Campbell, inherited the homestead, and after them a
niece, Mrs. BUTLER of NY City, spent her summers there. Oliver
A. FOWLER was caretaker from 1881 to 1888 for Mrs. Campbell; John
MILES and family had charge several years for Mrs. Butler, and Edward
COOLEY and family cared for the property for many years, and most of
his children were born in the little house upon the highway.
Mrs. Butler willed the property to a niece and nephew, and to the
Cooley family the portion where they live, which they call "Coolea".
The homestead proper was purchased by Leon WASHBURN and his
brother-in-law, Omar EGAN, who sold to Mr. & Mrs. ERICKSON, who
have modernized the house, keeping as much of the original beauty as
possible and adding to it, and have changed the name to "Fontainbleau
Inn". Several notable guests have been entertained
here in recent years, among them Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the
President, Mark Sullivan (columnist), Dr. Dafoe of Canada, Dr. Milton
Daus, Dr. Catherine Blyly, of Keuka College, Dr. J. H. Miller, Pres.
of Keuka College, Dr. Ruby Greene Smith, Prof. and Mrs. I. Durham of
Cornell University, etc."
The mansion of Judge William T. Lawrence has been known by the names of Lawrence Villa, Cayuta Villa and "White Gates".
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