Fossenvue

Built in 1899, Queen’s Castle is the largest permanent structure at Fossenvue. The structure was restored and can be viewed by visitors to the Finger Lakes National Forest. Photo courtesy Carolyn Zogg.

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Fossenvue was a lakeside summer campground founded at Fassett Point (now Caywood Point) on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake by suffragist Elizabeth Smith Miller, her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller, and five other friends in 1875. The camp name is an anagram for “seven of us.”

Fossenvue lay approximately halfway down Seneca Lake from Lochland, the Miller estate at Geneva. Family members and visitors would travel between the sites by boat. Life at Fossenvue was marked by relaxation, games, meals of local foodstuffs, and cultured discussion. Miller once described the purpose of the camp as "square meals and philosophy too." For one month each summer, Fossenvue was an intellectual feast on the lakeshore. Prominent visitors included Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Ethical Culture Society founder Felix Adler, Alice Stone Blackwell (daughter of pioneering feminist Lucy Stone), ornithologist Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and a great many others. Between 1874 and 1900 alone, the Fossenvue guest records document 534 visitors. (Records are not available for the camp’s next -- and final -- eight years of operation.)

In August 1897, Fossenvue welcomed Harriet May Mills, who then chaired the organization committee of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association (NYSWSA). Mills urged Miller and her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller to host a statewide NYSWSA convention that November in Geneva. The Millers agreed; the convention was held in Geneva’s Smith Opera House, Collins Hall, and the Hotel Nester.

In 1899 the largest permanent structure at Fossenvue was erected. The Queen’s Castle was a 77th-birthday present to Elizabeth Smith Miller, dubbed the Queen of Fossenvue. The Castle would form the center of camp life for just two more years. Fossenvue was closed in 1901.

For most of the twentieth century the site operated as a Boy Scout camp. In 1996 the property was purchased by the U. S. Department of Agriculture and added to the Finger Lakes National Forest. The Lodi Historical Society cooperated with the National Forest to win the Queen’s Castle a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

Queen’s Castle is the last surviving Fossenvue structure. It was restored in 2004; during restoration work, it was discovered that someone had carved E S M -- Elizabeth Smith Miller’s initials -- into the fireplace mantel. Today Queen’s Castle can be seen by visitors to the Finger Lakes National Forest. Access requires some hiking; see caption for the aerial view (image #5, above) for detailed directions.

The design of the nearby Shalestone Winery is inspired by the Queen’s Castle.