Kent house offers views to summer camp past
KENT — For decades, children would spend their summers at Camp Kent’s South Spectacle Lake.
The camp closed in 1982 and the site became a private residential community with a mix of new homes and reused camp buildings, including the theater and infirmary. Residents around the lake can use the tennis courts and community boathouse, which has a kitchen and changing rooms.
All of the houses have access to the 85-acre natural lake, either directly or by a short walk to the community beach.
Among the homes is a classic, shingled lake house at 40 Spectacle Ridge Road, which was built in 1999 and sits atop a ridge overlooking the nearby Lake Waramaug and Kent farmland.
“You have drop-dead stunning views,” said Ira Goldspiel, listing agent for the property. “The way the house is built, almost all of the key rooms take advantage of the views.”
The rolling hills and Lake Waramaug can be seen through windows in the dining room, kitchen, screened-in main level porc, as well as the recreation room and gym on the lower level, which open out to the lawn. There is an open deck off the dining room and kitchen. The master bedroom and bathroom are on the top level and offer sweeping views of the area.
The house has an open floor plan with a few nooks and alcoves throughout, including a reading area on the top floor by the bedrooms and a music alcove in the living room.
“There’s a great flow,” Goldspiel said.
The house sits on about 7 acres of mostly open grounds that are professionally landscaped with gardens and natural stone walkways. An infinity-edged pool contours to the natural ledge, overlooking the valley below. A post-and-beam red barn stands in the large open meadow north of the house, Goldspiel said.
The area’s natural beauty is just one of many reasons why hundreds of children attended the dozen or so summer camps in Kent.
So many children attended the sleep-away camps, that a train called the Camp Special would bring them to and from Kent for the season. The train ran until 1969.
Kent played a big role in the summer camp movement, which thrived in the 1940s and 1950s, said Marge Smith, the Kent Historical Society’s curator. It was such a big part of the Kent life in the first half of the century that Smith created an award-winning exhibit about the camps.
Summer camps gained popularity at the turn of the century when the Industrial Revolution spurred many farm families to move to the cities and the children no longer had to work the summers. The adults wanted to prevent the creation of “a generation of juvenile delinquents” for the children who now had summers off, according to the historical society’s exhibit.
The YMCA created the first camp in Kent in 1908, called Camp Crumbie, according to the exhibit.
Among the camp pioneers was Frederick William Gunn, who founded the Gunnery in Washington. He would have his students camp, hike and drill outdoors beginning in the 1860s and eventually located his camp on Lake Waramaug. The Boy and Girl Scouts were also instrumental in the camp movement. Camp Francis, one of the first Girl Scout camps in the country, opened in Kent in 1922.
Camp Kent was originally called Camp Milford and opened in 1936. Its name changed with the new leadership 18 years later.
The camp brochure touted a message of fun, which was echoed by alumni in comments to the Kent Historical Society and on the camp alumni’s Facebook page.
“Camp Kent spells fun for its campers. Fun, from the adventure of filling the hours with new and creative accomplishments, developing skills, sharing friendships and building lasting memories,” the brochure stated.
The property is on the market for $2.75 million.