In 1924, the Arthur D. Crane Company, an innovative developer of lake communities in New Jersey, acquired 2,600 acres of farmland in the valley of the Wallkill River (also referred to as the Brogden Meadow) in Sussex County, NJ, mostly in Sparta with some acres in Byram Township. The Crane Company’s vision was to create a lake community that would be surrounded by Sussex County, a region of a rolling landscape, wooded hills, many lakes, farms, valleys and winding roads. The county was (and still is) a respite from urban living.
In 1926, Brogden Meadow was cleared and work started on the dam that would create Lake Mohawk. In August of the same year, the dam gate was closed and the stream overflowed its banks and began to flood the surrounding territory: Lake Mohawk had begun. In 1928, the first waters of the Lake Mohawk splashed over the dam and the Lake was full.
The Crane Company built a very well-planned community, including a village center, which they referred to as a “Reservation,” around the private lake.
The Crane Company needed to “market the Reservation” and stressed the individuality of Lake Mohawk homes. The marketing department featured an Indian spirit hovering over the Lake on all of their brochures. The Public Relations department had contacted Princess White Deer, a Princess of the Mohawk Tribe and a foremost authority of Indian ceremonies and dances to inaugurate Lake Mohawk.
Princess White Deer became interested in the development of the Lake Mohawk village community, and agreed to participate in the ceremonies that would name Lake Mohawk after her tribe. Today, the plaza adjacent to the Lake is named in her honor: White Deer Plaza.
The castle-like structure at the north end of Lake Mohawk is the Clubhouse. This historic Clubhouse, listed on the national and state registers of historic places, is the heart of the Lake Mohawk community. It provides a venue for social activities, dining and banquet events at the water’s edge. The emblem of Lake Mohawk on northern face of the Clubhouse showcases Princess White Deer’s spirit: the Indian spirit greeting visitors from near and afar.
In 1988, Frances Smith, former General Manager of the Lake Mohawk Country Club, in conjunction with local historian Wayne McCabe worked to get the Plaza and Clubhouse placed on the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places. The district qualified because of the uniqueness of the architecture, a style referred to as “Lake Mohawk Tudor” a blend of styles incorporating French Normandy, German Baronial, English Cottage and Tudor styles. The homes of yesteryear and today still reflect the unique features of slate roofs, gable roofs, timber/log, cedar, chestnut, stucco, stone and brick work. Interesting architectural elements also include window boxes, ornately designed shutters, leaded stained glass windows and some truly unique entry doors.
The Reservation today encompasses approximately 2,500 homes and membership lots, the main Lake (Lake Mohawk), the Upper Lake and the Alpine Pool. Located within the Lake Mohawk Reservation, but as private clubs, are: the Lake Mohawk Tennis Club, Lake Mohawk Golf Club and the Lake Mohawk Pool.
Now, almost 90 years later, the vision of the Founders is enjoyed by all who call Lake Mohawk home.