Mystery Solved: Rye’s Boy Scout Cabin
One Rye resident had been looking for the site of the Boy Scout’s Hoisington Cabin which burned to the ground in a ‘mysterious blaze’ in 1937. Records indicated that it had been on county land, off of Manursing Way. The other Rye resident lived on Manursing Way.
Bill Langham, former Scoutmaster of Troop 2, wondered where it was. He discovered the existence of a cabin through his research in The Rye Chronicle about the history of Scouting in Rye. Troop 2 will celebrate its centennial in 2020. Paul Rheingold, the Manursing Way resident, wondered about the ruins he found on his frequent rambles in the Edith Read Sanctuary. On April 6 of this year, the two met for a walk.
They found what is surely the foundation of the old cabin. Its 20 x 40 foot dimensions matched descriptions of the cabin built in 1930, as did footings for an 8 foot porch. The foundation is made of local stone, presumably Harrison gneiss and varies in height from 10 inches to over 2 feet. In the pile of rubble where the fireplace and chimney had been are broken flue tiles and bricks from the Columbia County Empire brick works.
The cabin is built on a flat rock ledge facing south to get a view of Playland Lake. On its north side there is a steep ravine. According to old maps at the Rye Historical Society, there was a walkway near the site, running from what is now the Edith Read Sanctuary to Manursing Way. Strollers from Playland would occasionally stop by the cabin, formally known at Hoisington Lodge, attracted by scout activity.
Built from Adirondack Timber
In 1930, the Rye District consisted of four Boy Scout troops and a Sea Scout Ship. Together with help from the community, funds were raised to construct the cabin on a site provided by the Westchester County Parks Commission. The site was cleared by the Scouts and adult volunteers. The cabin was constructed of ‘slabs’ from the Adirondacks and built by John B. Burnham, the first large-scale producer of pre-cut log cabins and log buildings in the United States. The cabin was built by Burnham’s team of ‘hill country men’ during the Fall of 1930 at a cost of $1500. The cabin was subsequently fitted with electric lights, running water, and a ‘rustic’ kitchen equipped with a ‘complete set of eating utensils.’ Rye Scouts made furniture for the cabin. In 1931 Mrs. E.W. Davidson, whose son was in Troop 2, donated her wood-fired cookstove. The lodge was decorated with big game trophies – a New Brunswick moose, a ‘fine white caribou’, and a buck’s head among them.
Dedication Ceremony & Dignitaries
The cabin was named in honor of Frederick Reed Hoisington, one of the founding fathers of Scouting in Rye,in recognition for his leadership and contributions to Rye Scouting. Hoisington is pictured below lighting the Council Fire at the cabin’s dedication on February 14, 1931. PIctured, too, are Frank W. Darling, Westchester County Parks Commission, Scout Leaders, Troop 2 members, Sea Scouts from the Scout Ship Sakr-el-Bahr, and a crowd of over 200 guests and other dignitaries.
Center for Scouting activities in Rye
The Hoisington Lodge was used for overnight campouts at which Scouts did the cooking on a wood stove or cook fires in the fire ring. Passing proficiency tests in semaphore flag signaling, woodcraft, pioneering, and first aid, as well as playing outdoor games were common activities. Scout Award ceremonies, known at Courts of Honor, were often held at the cabin. Rye’s Girl Scout troops also used the cabin for meetings during the week and for activities on Saturday afternoon.
The cabin burned to the ground in May of 1937. There was some insurance on the structure, but not enough to rebuild on the site. Rye District was able to construct a cabin at Camp Siwanoy in Wingdale NY. This cabin was used by Rye’s Scouts for many years until Camp Siwanoy was sold to a developer in the 1990s.
The building of a Scout cabin in Rye was part of an effort in the 1930s to put cabins on Westchester County Park Commission properties. Cabins were built along the new Hutchinson River and Bronx River Parkways. Bronxville’s cabin is still in use today by Cubs and Boy Scouts in that community.
The remains of Hoisington Lodge sat quietly for over 80 years, waiting to be identified. What the future holds for it remains to be seen.
A Century of Scouting in Rye
Boy Scout Troop 2 will celebrate its centennial in 2020. The troop is seeking any Rye Scouting memorabilia, photos, clippings, etc. from former Scouts, Scout Leaders, or Scout families who may have material to offer.
Bill Langham would also like to interview Scouting oldtimers with memories of Camp Siwanoy, the original Durland Scout Center on Milton Point, or Rock Hill in Mahopac. Tales of their time in the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or Sea Scouts and the impact that Scouting has had on their life are welcome.
Please contact Mr Langham at this special mailbox: