by Niki Kourofsky
On June 14 Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) will lead a 4-mile tour around Lake Champlain’s Valcour Island. (This year’s tour is already sold out — register early for a shot at next year’s trek.) Participants will check out the beautiful 1874 Bluff Point Lighthouse and hear about the Battle of Valcour, in 1776, when Benedict Arnold’s tiny fleet damaged the British armada just enough to buy the Americans another season of building.
The tour will also touch on a lesser known chapter of Valcour history: its brush with free love. No, it didn’t host a hippie commune in the ’60s and ’70s. Colonel John Wilcox, Hannah White and J. H. Woodhouse’s social experiment on the island predated bead-wearing, folk-singing flower children by a hundred years. The trio founded a settlement of a dozen or so progressives dedicated to sharing property—and partners—in 1875. But, like their unwashed 20th-century counterparts, they had more love than money or shelter, and things ended poorly. You can read all about their adventure in “Fantasy Island,” by Tim Brookes (June 2003).