A Lake George Gar Wood’s Return is Celebrated in Style
In May, 1936, a factory-fresh, 20-foot Gar Wood was launched at Hall’s Boat Corporation, Lake George’s Gar Wood dealer. On May 8, 2010, that same boat re-entered Lake George, from the same marina.
In that interval of 74 years, the boat left Lake George after its original owner died.
More Lake George Gar Woods can be found on lakes like Tahoe than in the northeast, but through a series of serendipitous events, a Lake George family found and acquired this one.
Retrieved from a lake in Wisconsin, it was restored at Hall’s for its new owners, John and Honey-Jo Kelly.
Without the Kellys, says Hall’s boatworks manager Reuben Smith, his shop’s work would have been nothing more than another wood boat restoration, albeit, he says “the Platonic ideal of a restoration, one that maintains a boat’s integrity.”
Sleuthing by John Kelly led to the restoration not only of a boat but a piece of Lake George history – making its return to the lake “a great occasion,” according to Reuben Smith, one worthy of the party hosted by Hall’s one Saturday in May. .
With its bow festooned with flowers and christened by champagne, the boat was detached from the marine railway and slid stern-first into the water, where the Kellys drove their new boat for the first time.
“This is a wonderful day for Lake George,” said Kelly.
According to Kelly, a summer resident of Assembly Point, Gar Wood shipped the boat to Lake George for Dan H. Winchester, a prominent Albany developer (and scion of the family that owned the JB Lyons printing company), who summered on the Bolton road.
Kelly would not even have known the original name of the boat, however, had he been unable to locate Winchester’s family, namely, Stacy Draper, whose late husband was a grandson of Winchester’s.
By examining family photos, Kelly discovered that Winchester had named the boat Even Swap. Winchester, Kelly learned, had traded it for a 28-ft Baby Gar, believing the 20-ft utility would better serve his growing family.
Kelly brought the boat to Hall’s for restoration because, he said, he learned that Hibbard Hall always supplied Winchester with boats.
“Everyone at Hall’s did an unbelievable job,” said Kelly.