A History of UGL|
In the early 1930's, the New York Daily Mirror, a pictorial tabloid newspaper, advertised lots at Upper Greenwood Lake for $97.50 each, as a promotional "gimmick" to increase its circulation. The actual development of the Upper Greenwood Lake, as we know it today, was begun by Dr. William Smadbeck, who also owned the New York Coliseum. The local real estate agent handling the property was T. G. D'Addario. It was necessary for the purchaser to buy 4 lots at $97.50 each. Approximate size of the lots was 20' x 100'. They could be purchased with a down payment of $10.00 per lot and a time-payment plan of $3.50 per month, per lot.
This was the opportunity which the average working man was looking for... an opportunity to own his own summer vacation home, or even have a permanent home at a price he could afford.
Many people, to this day, are confused by the title of Upper Greenwood Lake, and expect it to be a location on the large Greenwood Lake shores. Upper Greenwood Lake is about 1,300 feet above sea level and approximately 600 feet above Greenwood Lake. The only connection between the two is the stream that runs down the hill alongside of Warwick Turnpike.
To arrive at their Shangri-La, early purchasers had to traverse a narrow one-lane road (Warwick Turnpike) which seemed as if it were reaching for the top of the world. The visitors first insight to the beauty of Upper Greenwood Lake, was the very picturesque waterfall on the right-hand side of the road as it tumbled downward on its rush to Greenwood Lake.
There were many times when the road was impassable, either caused by weather conditions or because repairs were being made. Final paving of the road was completed in May of 1936, at a cost of $19,795.01. The contract for the improvements went to Francisco Brothers of Little Falls.
As they approached the Lake, they first came upon Vogel's Tavern and Grocery Store. The tavern later became the Pioneer Tavern. Further along, Moe's Trading Post (last known as the "Outside Inn") came into view. Rumor has it that the first Hewitt Post Office was located in "The Trading Post" because its owner, Ira W. Moe, delivered a promised 1,000 votes at election time.
Next to greet the visitor's eye was the "Little Church on the Mountain" (Greenwood Baptist Church). Today the church is still referred to as the "Church on the Mountain".
Proceeding further north on Warwick Turnpike, the visitor approached Guy Frutell's Grocery Store, opposite the lake, between Schmidke Lane and Lakeshore Drive. This store later became the Mountain Jug.
As the visitor continued past the lake, he came upon McGerty's Tavern. Later the tavern was taken over and run by Joe Senft. History has it that this establishment and its owners figured prominently in the progress and development of the Upper Greenwood Lake area. In 1960, the tavern was taken over by Bill and Don Welch and later became known as the Appalachian Restaurant.
In between these landmarks, one would find families living in tents, log cabins, shacks and bungalows as they spent their time constructing more suitable housing.
Returning to Lakeshore Drive and a tour around the lake, they came upon the beach at Longhouse Road. Here there was a small store known as the Beach Restaurant. On top of the hill was Salata's Grocery Store. Here one could place orders for home-made pies and doughnuts. After church on Sunday mornings, the store became a beehive of activity.
Opposite this establishment Gus Stegman built a small log cabin which became his first tavern. Later Gus, with the help of Albert Bozenmayer, built the large hotel, once known as the Boondocks Inn. Many activities, including dances took place in the hotel. The hotel was often occupied by many of the lot owners while they were working on their homes.
After fighting a fire on a hot day, the hotel was a cooling-off spot where the firemen would meet and refresh themselves with a cold beer.
The lake itself was man-made by damming the stream originally called West Milford Brook. The story is told that all the trees on the lands to be inundated by the rising water would be burned off. Later it was learned that the trees were burned off after the land had been flooded, thus leaving the stumps intact. Today, when the water level is lowered, one can still see the mass of stumps embedded in the lake's bottom.
Very few trees were left standing in the development. William Armswood brought dozens of trees up to the area and planted them along Magnolia Drive, Fairview Drive and Glen Ridge Road. Lakeshore Drive was only a narrow dirt road. The Township refused to accept Lakeshore Drive and as a result the County took it over and paved it.
The Upper Greenwood Lake Property Owners Association owned most of the waterfront property around the lake, but opened up several places so that the residents would have access to the lake.
The Upper Greenwood Lake Property Owners clubhouse played a prominent role in the development of the property and in the activities of the area residents. It was the focal point of much of the early day functions. Meetings of the various organizations were held there. Masses were also held there before the erection of St. Cecelia's Church.
The clubhouse was a converted home. It had fine maple furniture, a huge fireplace, a chandelier and the floors were covered with luxurious carpet. It offered a warm welcome to all visitors. It had the only well in the vicinity. This well and a spring on Longhouse Road were the only sources of drinking water for many of the early settlers.
Wives and children of the first settlers, upon arriving in the winter months, would stay at the clubhouse until the menfolk could get their own bungalows warm enough to stay in.
As more and more homes were built and the population began to grow, the need for certain services arose. Groups were formed by individuals as the need arose. To raise the needed finances for these much needed services, the people sponsored dances, card parties, Bunco nights and other fund raising activities. These events were held in the Property Owners clubhouse and later at Gus Stegman's hotel.
One of the first services needed was a fire fighting unit. A fire department and an auxiliary was formed with each organization having about a dozen members. A drive was begun to build a firehouse. The Fire Ladies held their first meeting outside of the unfinished building.
It was felt that one of the next needs would be for a Catholic Church on the mountain. After several sites were turned down, it was decided to erect the church on Magnolia Road.
A Jewish Community Center was next on the list of needed services. With a strong will and desire, coupled with the cooperation of area citizens, the Center became a reality.
Electricity and private telephones were practically unheard of in the very earliest days of the development, and remained so for a number of years. Applications for electricity could be obtained from the Upper Greenwood Lake development office or from a member of the Property Owners Association. Building permits could be obtained from the real estate office also. After years of living by "candle light" or "oil lamps" at the home sites, lights were finally available and the switch was thrown on July 4, 1936. The Rockland Electric Company planned the "Inauguration of Electricity" on that Saturday because most of the members would be at the Clubhouse, the location at which the switch would be thrown.
Phone service was a luxury for the inhabitants of the area. The first phone was installed at Vogel's Corner. The phone there was actually an extension of a phone in West Milford. At times it would take over a half hour to get through on this line. Eventually lines were brought through by the Warwick Valley Telephone Company. The first phones had to be hand cranked. If you were on the receiving end of a message, you would have to listen for your code signal. Your signal might have been two or three short buzzes and a long ring, or some other combination.
As lines were extended and service improved, one was able to share a ten party line with nine other residents. Today, two and four party lines are practically non-existent.
After World War II, Upper Greenwood Lake started to grow in year round residents as the need for housing increased. With very little building being done during the war years, it was only natural that people would look to housing that was available. Many home owners in the area made their Summer homes winterproof and moved in. The low cost of gasoline made commuting easy and within the reach of the working man. The ready availability of these homes added up to a large increase in the year round population. Today, Upper Greenwood Lake is no longer a summertime community.
In 1955 the need for a first aid unit was realized with the formation of the Upper Greenwood Lake Volunteer Ambulance Corps. This permitted the local residents to get to hospitals in an emergency, with first aid assistance when needed.
In 1978 a Senior Club was formed on the mountain to bring needed services and other benefits to the seniors in the area.
With each passing year Upper Greenwood Lake has shown progress. The latest improvement in the area is our brand new clubhouse which is located on the beach. The future of the area looks bright and as the years pass, Upper Greenwood Lake will keep in step with the progress of passing time.
(Excerpted from the Upper Greenwood Lake 50th Anniversary Booklet) top