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Schuyler Co., NY
Photo Album
History of
Lawrence Chapel
Lawrence Homestead / Fontainbleau Inn
Cayuta Lake

Lawrence Chapel overlooking Cayuta Lake

History of Lawrence Chapel

From a newspaper article by Arthur H. Richards...date unknown (c.1940?)
(Sunday Telegram)

"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 Revolutionary War.
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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