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November 1, 2012

The Rockwell House of Luzerne and Glens Falls


Lake Luzerne:

The Rockwell-Harmon Cottage is all that is left of the Rockwell House Hotel property in Lake Luzerne. It has been restored after a 2002 fire and serves as a visitor’s information center for the Town of Lake Luzerne.

There are many interesting historical places in the town of Lake Luzerne, and the Rockwell-Harmon cottage is one of them.  The cottage, serving as a visitor information center, is a last remnant of a large hotel.

The first settlers in the Hadley-Luzerne area were Jeremy Rockwell and his wife, Betsy Bird Rockwell.  They arrived in the area in 1788, thus becoming the original ‘founders’ of this important area.  Jeremy and Betsy had twelve children, including George T. Rockwell.

In 1832 George T. converted a tavern into the Rockwell Hotel.  He had a building to house the help with an additional four cottages for guests.  Visitors came to Luzerne for hunting and fishing.  Many came up from New York City and Washington, D.C. to enjoy the clean, crisp air.  Luzerne was accessible by train, and horse drawn carriages brought the guests from the railroad station.  The hotel provided fresh food from local farms.

Many famous people visited the Rockwell Hotel in Luzerne.  The first Commodore Vanderbilt was a regular visitor as were members of the Astor family.

In 1891 the Rockwell Hotel burned down.  It was later rebuilt (1905) into a classic style hotel that accommodated 150 guests.  It burned again in 1917 and was never rebuilt.  Of the four detached cottages that were part of the hotel, one remains today.  It is the Rockwell-Harmon cottage on Main Street in Lake Luzerne.   It serves the town as a visitor’s information center during the summer season.


Glens Falls:

The Rockwell Hotel with the fountain in front which gave the name Fountain Square to the area.

On February 22, 1872, two of George Rockwell’s sons, H.J. and C.L., opened another Rockwell Hotel in the village of Glens Falls.  At the time, it was the largest hotel in the area.  The Glens Falls Rockwell House hotel stood on Glen Street in what was called Fountain Square.  The open space on Centennial Circle between Domino’s Pizza and Raul’s Mexican restaurant that is Hudson Avenue Extension was where the hotel stood.

Fountain Square was so named because of the large fountain that was built there about 1873.  When the trolley system was extended to South Glens Falls in 1898, the fountain had to be removed.  The fountain was moved to Crandall Park where it stayed until World War II when it was dismantled for scrap for the war effort.  The village board decided on a new name for the square.  It was called Bank Square as the three banks in the village were on or very near the square.

The Rockwell Hotel after the fountain was removed so the trolley could be extended to South Glens Falls circa 1900.

The Rockwell House operated until the 1920s when it was renamed the Hotel Rockwell.  It was again renamed Hotel Towers in 1949, but it burned on February 22, 1950, eighty-eight years to the day from when it officially opened.

The Rockwell House c. 1920s

The site of the Hotel Towers was developed into a W.T. Grant store after the 1950 fire.  That building was eliminated in the mid-1970s for the construction of Hudson Avenue Extension.

Hotel Towers fire on February 22, 1950, which destroyed the building.


W.T. Grant store that was built after the fire which destroyed the hotel. 

     © November 1 2012, Warren County Historical Society.

     Article prepared by Bryanna Marron, a student at SUNY Adirondack and Stan Cianfarano for the Warren County Historical Society.

Old photos are from Bridging the Years Glens Falls, New York 1763-1978 and the Warren County Historical Society.  Photo of the Rockwell-Harmon Cottage courtesy of the Lake Luzerne Historical Society.





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