WINSTED — A box of more than 300 beautiful vintage Highland Lake postcards that sat tucked away for many years has been donated by the Highland Lake Watershed Association (HLWA) to the Beardsley Library.
The Beardsley Library was thrilled to receive the donation and is digitizing all of the hand-colored photo postcards, many of which date back more than 100 years ago, and will display them as part of its Genealogy & Local History Collection.
“We were very grateful to receive the donation of the postcards because we have few original images of Highland Lake in our collection – and it is such an outstanding local attraction,” remarked Verna Gilson, research assistant of the Genealogy & Local History Room at the Beardsley Library.
The HLWA recently acquired the postcards from longtime Highland Lake resident Donald Masucci. His wife, Patricia, who died in November, had found many of the postcards at a garage sale. The collection of postcards sat unseen in a box inside a chest in their home for quite a long time, noted HLWA President Beth Papermaster. Patty Masucci had served as secretary for the HLWA for many years.
“It’s truly amazing that back in the 1900s to the 1940s, this many postcards were produced, but it’s because Highland Lake was really such a big tourist destination,” Papermaster remarked.
The postcards depict such scenes as a couple riding on a horse-drawn carriage on the boulevard to views from the piazza of the Highland Lake Hotel in 1908. There are scenes from all areas of the lake over the years including First Bay, the Narrows, Carey’s Point, Point Comfort, the Boat Landing, Wintergreen Island, Perch Rock Cove and Tablet Rock. Some depict “bathing” at the lake in 1910 as well as skaters on the lake and a group of people gathered at the Dancing Pavilion at Electric Park. There’s even a 1914 postcard of cows at the lake.
“It’s a great repository of history,” Papermaster said of the collection. “You get to see the progression of the lake. It’s important to share this with the public. These postcards are really historically fascinating.”
“Another item that the HLWA donated to the library was a letter written on June 5, 1933 from someone who lived on Highland Lake to a woman named Mrs. Staff who was renting their cottage. The writer, who is unknown, says they installed a new dock and also painted the canoe a “pleasing green color” and cleaned out the rock garden “so that the grounds look more charming than ever.” The letter goes on to discuss accepting their offer of $20 per week to rent the cottage for the season.Papermaster noted that what a bargain that was for a lake rental for the season, even back then.
Papermaster said the treasures the association has just donated to the library inspired the group to sift through their old files, which included several front sections from local newspapers during the 1955 flood. All of which were donated to the library.
“On behalf of the HLWA, President Beth Papermaster donated many “Who’s Who & Where at Highland Lake ” pamphlets to the library as well,” Gilson said. “They list the names of Highland Lake residents (and the names of their cottages), dating back to the 1940s.”
“This is valuable historical information that is worthy of preservation and sharing, so we are in the process of digitizing the postcards and HLWA’s book ‘Highland Lake Reflections’ to our library’s web page,” she said.
“As a lover of libraries, I think anything we can do as an association to promote the Beardsley Memorial Library and their collection of Highland Lake is wonderful,” Papermaster said. “This collection is really special. It’s truly a treasure.”