Real Estate: A Silver Bay Home that Nourished a Busy Life
John and Ann Barber couldn’t leave Lake George behind, even in the unlikely event they wanted to.
To say nothing else, their roots are intertwined with those of Silver Bay, the northern Lake George landmark, as well as with those of the YMCA.
John Barber is the grandson of two YMCA leaders, the son of one and the nephew of another.
“Coming back to Silver Bay every summer was like coming home,” says Barber. And with good reason. Both sets of Barber’s grandparents rented cottages at Silver Bay in 1921. The following year, his father got a job in the store and helped unload guests’ trunks from the steamboats. Barber’s parents beganvacationing here as a couple in 1931. His sister met her husband here in 1950, when both were Emps. Barber himself worked as an Emp in 1952. To say nothing of uncles, aunts, cousins, children, and, of course, life-long friends…
Nevertheless, the Barbers have decided to sell the home they built near Silver Bay in 1995, after John retired from the Buffalo law firm where he had worked since graduating from the University of Michican in the early 1960s.
“About five years ago, we recognized that at some point, we would need more care than we could provide for ourselves. We started to look at our options, in particular at adult living facilities that would meet our needs, and we found one: Wake Robin in Shelburne, Vermont. We were really taken with the facility, the management and the residents – they’re all active. This, we felt, is where we fit,” says John Barber.
Still, it’s not easy for the Barbers to leave a home which they helped design and which fulfilled some of their deepest wishes.
“We saw this piece of property more than twenty years ago,” says Ann. “I always wanted to own a little piece of the woods.”
In addition to their own acres, the Barbers have access to the Adirondack Forest Preserve lands that abut their own.
“Twenty feet from our door, we’re on trails that could take you into wilderness,” said Ann.
The grounds surrounding the house are open, allowing sunlight into fields and gardens.
The house itself includes features that situate it in the Adirondacks: wood beams, a fireplace, a loft overlooking a great room and, of course, a screened porch with views of the mountains on Lake George’s east shore.
When the Barbers retired to Hague in 1995, they found a stable, year-round community composed of people who, like them, had deep attachments to Lake George, many to Silver Bay itself.
And their lives since then have been as busy, if not busier, than when they lived in Buffalo and were raising three daughters.
John carried on the family tradition of serving YMCA and Silver Bay.
In 2010, he was awarded Silver Bay’s Luther D. Wishard Distinguished Service Award for his years of leadership and dedication.
What Barber found rewarding, he said, “was just to be in a position to provide leadership in such a special place. It’s won the loyalty of so many wonderful people, people who don’t choose to stand out, who are very quiet, but who have tremendous talents.”
And by the time he and Ann had moved to Silver Bay, Silver Bay’s executive director, Mark Johnson, had recruited him to become a trustee of The Fund for Lake George.
Barber served on The Fund’s board until 2010, and through many of those years he led it as a chairman and vice chairman.
Among his lasting achievements was the creation of the Lake George Waterkeeper program, which was not necessarily a popular idea at first, even among some advocates of lake protection.
And, of course, they found themselves engaged by the community of Hague itself, donating time and energy to the Hague Fire Department, the Rotary and, not least of all, the famous Poopies’ group.
Named for the Glens Falls diner, Poopies’ people travel throughout the north country, attending concerts and events, visiting museums and historic sites. Started spontaneously, it’s still going strong today.
The Barbers will never really leave Lake George, though, because they’ve given so much of themselves to the place, which will continue to be enriched by their presence.
And in the years to come, it will no doubt remain on their minds as they look across Lake Champlain toward the Adirondacks. After all, as even a Vermonter once admitted, one of the best things the Green Mountain State has to offer is its views of our peaks.
The Barbers’ home is located at 7887 Lake Shore Drive, Silver Bay, NY. For information, contact Jennifer Johnson at Keller Williams Realty of Saratoga Springs. 518-588-1392