Bullfrog Camp

 Colonel Frederick Stuart Greene and his wife Grace couldn’t resist adopting the pair of orphaned baby raccoons they discovered outside their summer home—Bullfrog Camp—in Rensselaerville, N.Y. But while raccoons may be cute and cuddly when they’re young, they can grow up to be aggressive and nasty. The Greenes were surprised and dismayed as their once-adorable pets became uncontrollable little monsters. And Col. Greene was none-too-pleased with the creatures’ favorite trick: perching behind the steering wheel of his car and viciously fighting him off whenever he tried to get in.

Col. Greened loved his pet raccoons until they grew up and started giving him trouble.

That’s just one of the stories about Bullfrog Camp, which is now one of the residences for students and scientists at the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station. Col. Greene was New York’s Commissioner of Highways (1919-1923) and Superintendent of Public Works in Albany, N.Y. (1923-1939). He oversaw the building of many highways in the state, including Route 85, which ends in Rensselaerville. And he conceived of the idea of the Storm King Bypass, a safe thoroughfare through the Storm King Mountains. Before the Bypass was built, people had to drive the narrow and dangerous Old Storm King Highway; storms, rockslides, and avalanches sometimes closed the Highway; and in 1934, a landslide killed three people and destroyed three cars. In 1938, Col. Greene oversaw the beginning of the construction of the Bypass, which connected Cornwall and West Point, but died before it was completed—and a plaque in his honor dedicated to him—in 1940.

When Col. Greene wasn’t overseeing road projects, he enjoyed relaxing with his family at Bullfrog Camp in Rensselaerville, playing with his pet raccoons, and socializing with the Huycks and others in the village.

“Colonel Greene was an outstanding engineer and public servant,” said Union College history professor and Rensselaerville summer resident Dr. Charles Waldron in a 1965 interview with the Rensselaerville Historical Society. Col. Greene was also “abrupt and very opinionated but decidedly talented as both a writer and a conversationalist.” Dr. Waldron undoubtedly knew that Col. Greene, in addition to being a civil engineer, had written plays and short stories early in his career.

“The high spot of the week was always a picnic at Lincoln Pond [Cottage] on the high porch,” said Dr. Waldron. “After the picnic we’d adjourn to the [Edmund Niles] Huyck porch and sing hymns.”

Lincoln Pond Cottage, which like Bullfrog Camp sat on Lincoln Pond, was a fishing retreat for Edmund (Ted) Niles Huyck. The cottage was less than a mile from the summer home that Ted shared with his wife, Jessie Van Antwerp Huyck.

At the Huyck home, “Colonel Greene and I weren’t long on singing so we used to sit on the porch and talk,” said Dr. Waldron whose wife was Jessie’s niece. “We would hear the music coming through the doors and windows.”

Col. Greene was born in 1870 and grew up in Virginia, was a member of the Virginia Military Institute Class of 1890, and a major in the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. Upon his return home from the war, New York Governor Nathan Lewis appointed him State Commissioner of Highways. Col. Greene served under three other governors—Al Smith, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Herbert Lehman. After Ted Huyck died in 1930, his widow, Jessie, established the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve and Col. Greene served on its first board of directors until his own death, at the age of 69, in 1939.

Soon after his death, the Preserve board of directors noted his death (from the minutes of the July 7, 1939 Annual Meeting):

“It [is] resolved that we pay grateful tribute to our associate—a good soldier, whose leadership inspired the respect, admiration, and affection of his men; an able public servant of the State of New York in the high office of Commissioner of Public Works, which he filled with outstanding honesty and exceptional administrative ability through a term of eighteen years under three governors; a resident of unfailing enthusiasm for the beautifies of Rensselaerville, unselfishly giving his expert knowledge and sound counsel on matters of importance to this corporation and to the village.”

Bullfrog Camp (1930s) now houses researchers and students who come to visit the E.N. Huyck Preserve in Rensselaerville, N.Y.

The pet raccoons used to take over Col. Greene’s car and refused to let him in.

About L. Stephenson Carter

L. Stephenson Carter is a science writer/editor and was also on the board of directors of the E.N. Huyck Preserve in Rensselaerville, NY.
This entry was posted in historic building, Huyck Preserve, Natural History. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bullfrog Camp

  1. Tootie Greene says:

    Nicely done, Laura. It was great fun as well as a large dose of nostalgia, reading about “Bulll Frog Camp” (think in those days it was three words, but I will have to check that out) and my grandparents’ life there, and of course the photographs.

  2. Pingback: The Many Lives of Lincoln Pond Cottage | lscnews

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